Between Boston's annual February tradition and the Garden's annual hosting of the Hockey East Championships, Mike Mottau
, who earned the Hobey Baker award in 2000, has played plenty of games in TD Garden while with the Boston College Eagles.
However, it was wearing a spoked-B that fulfilled a lifelong ambition this morning.
"Growing up a Bruins fan and following the team throughout my whole professional career, and finally getting a chance to put on the sweater was really special this morning, even just to go out for morning skate," said Mottau. "Playing with the Islanders last year, I was home for the Cup run – watching the guys go through it, it was pretty amazing for the city and for these guys and for a few guys in the room.
"It’s great to be a part of it now."
That goes for Mottau's family, as well.
"My wife didn’t believe me at first, she was thinking I was joking," said Mottau, drafted by the New York Rangers in the 7th round (182nd overall) of the 1997 NHL Entry Draft. "But as far as the excitement level, it was through the roof for my parents, my brothers and sisters and my in-laws.
"They’re all excited to come home."
However, Mottau, who has played for the Islanders, Rangers, Calgary and New Jersey doesn't expect any nerves when he dons the game-version of the Bruins sweater tonight against the Ottawa Senators.
"Oh, it’s just excitement for me - controlling that emotion," he said. "Once you get out there it’s the same game which is a comfortable feeling, but leading up to it – the events, the warmup and seeing some familiar faces in the stands and stuff like that will be pretty exciting.
"Once the puck drops, it’s the same game I’ve been playing and that’s the comforting thing."
Also comforting are the number of familiar faces he's found in the Bruins locker room - including Rolston, who came over with him from Long Island.
"Yeah, it’s nice another familiar face. I played with him in New Jersey as well and we’ll be in the hotel together for a bit, have to carpool – so it’s nice to have someone taking lean on when you need to," he said. "It’s great, like I said I’m familiar with some of the guys, I skate with them in the summer time.
"I know a few of them personally, and just from what I see as a group, they play well as a team very structured and that goes a long way especially with the results from last year.
I’ve known for a long time, he played with my college roommate [Jeff Farkas]," added Mottau. "I know Dennis Seidneberg and Andrew Ference
– I was his roommate in world championship."
But asked where he will fit in -- on the ice -- with his new team, Mottau simply said, "I don’t know - wherever they need me at some level.
"I’m just getting on the ice and do what I can to try and provide some depth for the stretch run."
And that depth will come in handy tonight, with Johnny Boychuk
down with a concussion.
"They skated with us this morning," said Head Coach Claude Julien of Mottau and Rolston. "SO obviously we need those guys in our lineup, with Boychuk not being in.
"They came in last night, so they had a good rest and we feel like they're ready to go."