BostonBruins.com – Bay Staters have a special affinity for the Fourth of July. After all, the seeds of revolution were sown in the fields of Lexington and Concord well before Thomas Jefferson put pen to paper in Philadelphia in 1776.
Avon’s Mike Mottau, who played at Thayer Academy and Boston College before breaking into the NHL, knows exactly where to celebrate today and it’s not on the Esplanade.
"No I never really went in town,' he said via phone on Wednesday. "We had another parade growing up that was in Randolph that we would go to.
"It’s a little smaller, and my parents would always bring us over there. But since I’ve been dating Courtney way back in ’96 we’ve always gone down to the Duxbury Fourth of July parade."
It’s a family affair for Mike, his wife Courtney and their children.
"That is a little slice of Americana," said Mike. "We actually have a 1948 Ford pickup truck that my brother-in-law drives in; he drives it I just kind of supervise, and we put all the kids in the back and they throw candy out to everyone along the parade route.
"We enjoy it," added Mottau. "It’s probably about a two-hour drive down Washington Street in Duxbury."
But Duxbury doesn’t corner the market on Americana in New England. Everyone seems to have some tradition to follow on America’s birthday.
"I mean even growing up, you don’t really appreciate the history and the access that you have to it – the actual landmarks and things that you read about in a book," explained Mottau. "But as you get older you do appreciate it more and I think that rings true to it kind of all comes together on the Fourth of July, because there is a lot of celebrating going on especially in smaller towns – each town has their own little thing, and it does show how deep and how rich the traditions are and how America started in this area."
Mottau’s hockey career started in this area, too, and even before the former Eagle wore the colors of the Rangers, Flames, Devils, Islanders and Bruins, he wore the red, white and blue of Team USA.
"I’ve played World Juniors and World Championships a few times," said Mottau. "So I’ve been able to pull on the sweater.
"It was pretty exciting times when you have that opportunity to represent your country in international play."
Mottau said he always understood what it meant to be a member of Team USA.
"It was quite an honor and I think the coaching staff did a great job reminding us what we’re representing; who we’re representing and the fact that it meant so much to put that jersey on," he said of his experience at World Juniors. "That was at an early age. I was 18-years old and so every time after that I was able to kind of draw on those experiences and remind myself that it is a honor to represent your country when on foreign soil it makes it even that much more exciting."
Mottau, who in 1997 earned college hockey’s Hobey Baker award (a trophy named for America’s first hockey star - who died serving as a pilot in World War I - given to the NCAA's top player) also expressed thanks to those men and women who have served in the military and gave us all the opportunity to have fun today.
"I like to go out of my way to thank the servicemen for their service to our country and protecting us and allowing us the freedoms to do what we do," said Mottau. "I was able to go to the Walter Reed Clinic in Washington and just shake a few hands of some of the active wounded warriors.
"At the core of it, those are the people that allows use to celebrate and allow us to live the life that we do.
"So, yeah, I mean it’s the whole point of celebrating our nation’s birthday and the people who defend it to the point where we’re allowed our liberties and our freedoms. It’s a nice way to celebrate," he said.
And the man who proclaimed he’d "take a puck in the teeth" for the Bruins said he hopes to be celebrating a new contract with Boston later on this summer.
"There is still an opportunity," said Mottau. "We’ve had a few conversations and we’re just trying to sort through some options here.
"There’s been kind of quiet on the free agent market on some level for me, but hopefully once things start moving and teams kind of figure out what they need then, you know, I can find a job whether it be with the Bruins or not.
"Ideally it would be nice to be back with the Bruins," added Mottau. "My experience there was a lot of fun.
"Great people, great room, and there’s a lot of pieces in place to make another great run there for years to come, so I’d just like to be a part of it."