Whatever you might call him, you can add "happy" to the moniker, because Johnny Boychuk
is very pleased to remain in Boston - thank you very much - and he isn't afraid to tell that to anyone.
"I obviously wanted to be back in Boston all along," said the big defenseman via teleconference on Thursday. "I am just thankful that I’m back here."
Boychuk admitted that he really wasn't tempted to look elsewhere.
"Not really, after I was a healthy scratch and after playing how much I did in the playoffs and leading up to the playoffs, I wasn’t really looking to go anywhere else," said Boychuk. "I was just waiting to see what the actual offer would be and if they wanted me back there."
They did, and Boychuk quickly signed on the dotted line.
"Just to come back to Boston to the great coaching staff that we have there -- and you know, I know a lot of the guys -- it made it a lot easier decision knowing that we would have all these people back in Boston," he said. "That was the main fact that tipped the scale for me."
Boychuk has always talked about his love for the city of Boston, and today was no different.
"Obviously it means a lot to me," said Johnny. "I am a big fan of the Red Sox, I was a fan of the Bruins before.
"For me to come back and play with Boston," mused Boychuk with a thoughtful beat, "the only thing I have to do next is throw an opening pitch."
|Johnny salutes the fans. |
Like many of the other players who have returned to the B's fold, Boychuk also pointed to the stands and the skyline for more reasons to return.
"The people around Boston are really nice," said Boychuk. "We have great fans.
"It’s an old city and there is a lot to see, there is a lot of heritage in the whole city from landmarks to sports teams.
"Everything has a lot of character."
There's no doubt that "character" describes Johnny Boychuk
A favorite of the hockey media, Boychuk has no problem in front of the camera or microphone and visibly enjoys every minute he spends in an NHL locker room. And last season those minutes included many, many moments spent as a healthy scratch.
At that point, Boychuk said that he was focused on one thing.
"Well, just to be in game shape when I was called upon to be playing. Just to keep positive, work on my foot speed, work on conditioning, work on almost every aspect of the game because you know when you’re not going to be playing you have to work on something so you can get into the line up," said the blueliner. "I just wanted to improve almost every aspect of my game so when I do get into the line up I’ll be ready.
"I just wanted to stay positive; I’m always a positive thinker," added Boychuk. "Sitting on the bench, or not even sitting on the bench, just practicing with the team and just developing myself in practice helped out tremendously.
"Being patient, for me at least, paid off," he said.
It sure did. Boychuk improved and more than proved his worth to the Black & Gold who rewarded him with a two year extension.
"He has made great strides this year," said Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli during Thursday's press availability in Los Angeles. "He was patient before he got into the line up. He learned our system. He has a dimensional shot. He competes. He’s got size.
"But the biggest thing I saw was he has improved from being the defenseman of the year in the American League, to being maybe our seventh defenseman to start. He worked his way into our lineup patiently, but learning along the way. We have a very good defensive system and Johnny has picked it up and showed improvement while he was in the lineup.
"He is a good kid and he’s still young. Right shot D's with shots like that are hard to find."
During his call, Boychuk sounded like a man who has his eyes on a top-four slot on the B's defense corps. Speaking to the trade of Dennis Wideman, Boychuk said he knows that he has an opportunity to shine.
"It maybe makes an opening to me to maybe jump into a top four and play a bit more minutes," explained Boychuk. "So when they moved him it kind of sent a message to me that you better be ready to be a top four guys, and even if I’m not, I want to play like I am."
Chiarelli is content to let things play out on the ice.
"Well, we’ll see where that goes," said Chiarelli. "[Boychuk] has showed that he can play in the top four, but the other guys in our group have shown that they can lay in the top four too.
"It will be a good competition."
Competition be damned, Boychuk hasn't set any personal goals -- yet.
"You know I haven’t actually thought about it right at this point," said Johnny. "Maybe before the season starts I’ll sit down and write a couple goals.
"I just want to make sure to play good defensively and when I can chip in offensively.
"Hopefully if there is a chance to make a nice big hit I’m going to."
That shouldn't be hard for Boychuk, because in Boston Johnny is a big hit already.