As the fan’s face stretched into a gigantic smile, Jared Knight
skated away with memories of pressing his own face against the glass, beginning his hockey journey as a young boy on the other side of the boards.
“Boston has the -- they’re the best fans in the NHL,” Knight said. “So just to give back, a little tap like that, it’ll make their day.
“I remember what it was like, when I was a little kid I used to go to the pro team back in Kalamazoo [MI] and I used to go to practices, so I know how it feels.”
Knight’s play has carried him well beyond the other side of the glass. The center, who was the second round Bruins draft pick (32nd overall) in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, is now a development camp veteran, lacing up his skates at Ristuccia for the second time this year.
It’s a different experience coming to Wilmington as a veteran, Knight said. After one development camp under his belt, he has a better idea of what to expect- and an opportunity to shine as a leader.
“It’s nice. Last year, I was nervous coming in and this year, I had a year under my belt and I wasn’t as nervous coming in,” Knight explained. “I know what to expect, and for me, I’m just trying to help out these guys.”
The physically demanding development camp requires leaders like Knight to step up for the new prospects, aiding them through the grueling process. But even an experienced skater like the Providence Bruins center leave the ice drained after a long practice, pushed to their limits by staff demanding everyone’s best effort.
But Knight knows just how valuable the experience is.
“[Providence Bruins Head Coach Bruce Cassidy] runs a really good practice, about thirty minutes into the skate today I started cramping up,” Knight laughed, adding, “They run some good drills out there.
“You’re trying to soak everything up,” he added, “and just trying to learn.”
The 5-foot-11, 202-pound center spent most of this season playing for the London Knights, where he led the team in assists and points, posting a 25-45-40 line in 68 games. Knight recorded seven points in three games in February, and had consecutive three point nights (2-1-3) in January against Oshawa and Niagara.
The native of Battle Creek, MI, also played three games for Providence last season, posting two assists. The call-up to the American Hockey League was an incredible experience, Knight said, one that provided invaluable on-ice learning opportunities.
“That was huge. That gave me some experience up in the AHL, the first game was definitely an eye-opener,” Knight said. “Seeing the guys having beards and having kids, you definitely don’t see that in the OHL. It was fun and I learned a lot.”
Knight may be ahead of some of the other prospects at development camp in terms of hands-on learning and experience, and the maturity that comes with professional play, but he’s no less eager and willing to learn.
The development camp veteran knows the value of the sessions at Ristuccia.
“Coming into development camp, you just want to work hard and soak everything up,” Knight said.
“[Boston Bruins Assistant General Manager Don] Sweeney told us to be sponges here and take everything in and learn.”---Elizabeth Traynor