Former Boston College left-winger, Chris Collins, put his best talon forward this past week at the Bruins development camp in Wilmington.
Joined by Providence teammates David Krejci
, Matt Lashoff, T.J. Trevelyan, and Martins Karsums, as well as former BC teammate Brock Bradford, Collins showed the crowd that he wants a big role in the B's organization this season.
After splitting time last year between Providence and the Eastern Coast Hockey League’s Long Beach Ice Dogs, Collins returned to camp with a little more pro experience than most of his fellow Bruins prospects, and is feeling a little more at ease, this time around.
“Obviously, your second year, you feel a little more comfortable," said Collins. "You know what to expect coming in here.
"Last year was definitely a learning experience for me in a lot of different ways…I had some good time in Providence (too).
"So, I feel good.”
Chris was even able to land some ice time in one of the Baby B’s playoffs game against the Manchester Monarchs.
“It was a great experience,” he said. “It was exciting.
“Anytime you are in the playoffs it is a pretty exciting time.
"Providence had a good team last year, so it was fun to be a part of that team with all those guys."
There were added bonuses, as well.
“We were playing a bunch of my buddies from Boston College, too,” said Collins, thinking of the Manchester series.
Collins may have had fun playing against his BC buddies in Manchester last spring, but recently he is teamed up with his former teammate, BC’s junior forward Brock Bradford, and former Hockey East foe, University of New Hampshire’s senior goaltender, Kevin Regan.
Speaking about Regan, Chris had only good things to say.
“I have known him since I was a kid,” said Collins. “He is a good buddy of mine.
"It is good to have him here in camp.”
Camaraderie, no matter who used to play where, seemed to be the general feel around the locker room. Everyone was just excited to be at camp and wearing the spoked-B on their practice jerseys.
You see, wearing the “B” is especially significant to Collins, who, after four years of attending college in Boston, became a huge Bruins and Red Sox fan.
“I chose Boston College because I love the city of Boston, and I love the school," he said. "Throughout the (past five years), I have just had a great time here.
"To be able to come back here and play for this team is very special for me.”
Since Chris already knew the city very well, he was a little hesitant before the prospects got on board one of Boston’s Duck Tours.
But he had good things to say afterwards.
“I had done one once before with a hockey school,” said Collins. “I was a camp counselor.
"It is always fun to learn the history about the city.
"And every time you learn some new facts that you did not know beforehand," he said.
But unlike the guys from out of state who were here, not only to play hockey, but also to familiarize themselves with the city, Chris focused all his energy to the ice.
His favorite part of camp, which was an opinion shared by many of his peers, was the four-on-four scrimmages that were held in the afternoon of the three double session days of camp.
“It is just fun to be back in a game type atmosphere,” said Collins. “We practice a lot, but it is nice to be out there playing games, too.”
Brock Bradford, who was teamed up with Collins on a line during one of the scrimmages, agreed.
“It is definitely fun, (Chris and I) had some good connections out there so far,” Bradford boasted. “It is always fun to play with him – he is such a skilled player.
“At BC, he taught me so much and was a great mentor for me.
"I think Chris has become such a well-rounded player, and has developed more in the mental aspect of the game…He has got to see first hand how to stay in play in the professional leagues. I can learn a lot from him,” he said.
Collins even seemed to enjoy the hard power skating workouts that Strength and Conditioning Coach John Whitesides was putting the campers through.
“It feels good,” he said. “It is the third day we are here; I think the first two days we were just getting our legs under us. I feel better every skate. It is just good to be out here with all the guys and going through hard drills. It has been fun.”
Chris also commented on how ready everyone was to play.
“I’ve been impressed with pretty much everyone," said the forward. "This whole camp, everyone has been in great shape.
"Everyone is passing all the tests (and) everyone is really skilled – that is what I have come to see.”
With the development camp over, Chris plans to get some "R&R" and go fishing up in the Artic Circle, but he will not rest for long before he is back in his hometown of Rochester, NY training and making sure he is prepared for September.
Training camp may decide where Chris will play next season, but one thing is for certain: Collins is one guy that the Boston faithful can be proud to support. Even with his younger brother, Greg, donning the blue & white for the University of New Hampshire Wildcats, Chris’s allegiances remain in Boston.
“I definitely still cheer for BC. I still have a lot of great friends there, and I had a good four years there. My loyalty is at BC. Greg knows that.
“I root for him for sure, when they aren’t playing my alma mater,” he said.
No doubt everyone in New York and in New England is rooting for Chris Collins.