Despite suffering a horrifying injury to his neck after being cut by a skate blade this past April, the Bruins 2015 second-round pick was determined to return for the Memorial Cup in late May.
His parents, however, were urging him to take it slow. Both are doctors and did not want their son to rush back from such a traumatic experience.
“His parents are actual doctors and were saying, ‘Put the brakes on here,’” general manager Don Sweeney said at Bruins Development Camp earlier this month.
But pumping the brakes and watching from afar are not in Lauzon’s nature.
“When I got cut, right after that I said to my parents I wanted to be back for the Memorial Cup,” said Lauzon, who needed emergency surgery to seal off the cut, which avoided any nerves or veins.
“I stayed positive along my recovery, hoping it would pay off.”
That it did.
Lauzon was ready for the Memorial Cup and suited up for all five of Rouyn-Noranda’s games, tallying two assists while helping the Huskies advance to the final against London (a 3-2 loss).
It is that determination and desire to compete – in addition to his on-ice talent – that stands out so firmly to Sweeney and everyone else in the Bruins organization.
“Oh, Jeremy’s compete level is off the charts,” Sweeney said of the 6-foot-2, 197-pound defenseman. “He realized he had a very scary injury and he circled the calendar for the week he was going to be back for the Memorial Cup.
“He made it back and I actually went out to see him in his first game after being off, and the competitive nature didn’t take a backseat despite the injury.”
Bruins assistant coach Jay Pandolfo, who was the organization’s Director of Player Development when Lauzon was drafted, echoed Sweeney’s sentiments.
“It was obviously a very scary injury,” said Pandolfo. “He’s a dedicated kid. If you watch him out there, he’s really competitive and he’s got high character and those are the types of players you’re looking for.”
Lauzon, who says he does not think about the injury when he is on the ice, viewed the experience as a minor hiccup in what was an impressive season.
“A small bump in the road,” said Lauzon. “It’s over. When I get on the ice I just have fun and play my game.”
In just 46 games last season, the 19-year-old Quebec native tallied 50 points (10 goals, 40 assists), while posting a plus-40 rating, both the highest totals of his three-year career in the QMJHL. In 60 games in 2014-15, Lauzon notched 36 points (15 goals, 21 assists) and a plus-12 rating.
“He put up a lot of points,” said Pandolfo. “He’s a smart player, he likes to jump in the play, but also plays hard on both ends of the ice. He had an impressive year last year.”
Lauzon credited his strong season to the improvement in his defensive game.
“I think defensively I’m tougher,” said Lauzon. “I’m a player that’s difficult to play against. I want to keep improving that.”
Sweeney still believes there is room for growth, but acknowledged that ultimately it will be Lauzon who determines where he will be playing during the upcoming season.
“Developmentally he’s got areas that I think he and everybody else are going to continue to focus on and work on and we’ve identified them and we’re going to talk to him about it,” said Sweeney.
“But he’s excited about coming to camp. I’ve said all along the player dictates when they play. The trajectory is not predetermined. It’s a matter of when you’re put in the situations, can you handle it? Can you move forward?
“When the pond gets a little deeper are you able to swim and stay there? And each player will have to determine that themselves.”
Just like he was in the aftermath of the injury, Lauzon is determined to put up another strong showing in the fall.
“I will be ready to play at rookie camp,” said Lauzon. “My focus is I don’t want to leave Boston.”
The 2016 Boston Bruins Development Camp was presented by AT&T.