BostonBruins.com - P.J. Axelsson is back with the Black & Gold. Though the 38-year-old will not be hitting the ice to skate in the spoked-B anytime soon (sorry, B's fans), the former longtime Bruin has joined the organization as an amateur scout. GM Peter Chiarelli made the announcement on Tuesday, via an official team press release. Axelsson will be based out of Sweden and responsible for scouting European amateur prospects.
The native of Kungalv, Sweden announced his retirement from professional hockey this past spring on April 10, following three seasons with Frolunda HC in the Swedish Elite League from 2010-13. His tenure as a Bruin lasted 11 seasons from 1997-2009, when the defensive forward established himself among the Boston faithful as a selfless act on and off the ice. 'Axie' never played for another NHL team.
He earned 287 points off 103 goals and 184 assists over his 797 games in the spoked-B, and added 4-3=7 totals in 54 playoff games. But it was his demeanor and leadership off the ice that made him respected and appreciated around the locker room and by the fans.
Axelsson was active in the Greater Boston community, most notably starting the annual "PJ Drive," where fans are encouraged to donate new pajamas at Bruins' home games for charity. The drive is now heading into its seventh year.
“Obviously, he meant a lot [to the Bruins],” Head Coach Claude Julien said, back in the summer of 2009, when Axelsson was not retained by the B's. “Anyone who was part of our hockey club and was inside the dressing room understood what Axie meant to our hockey club."
“He was a great leader. He is was a great team person and…he served us well in all areas.”
It was a farewell similar to Andrew Ference
When Chiarelli and his scouting staff head into the NHL Draft every year, there's a distinct idea of what it means to "be a Bruin." They look for that style in every prospect they're looking to draft.
It includes those who are tough to play against, committed to winning and the team game, and who demonstrate high character, among other traits.
I can see how that part will certainly come naturally to Axelsson when scouting the European circuit.
“I think Axie knew what it meant to be a Bruin and he tried to let everyone else know about it,” a 24-year-old Patrice Bergeron said back in that same summer of 2009. “He would teach the young guys and he was not the kind of guy who talked the most, but when he did stand up and speak, the guys were listening."
“Axie was a big influence on me."
B's Promote Gretzky, Add Sullivan to Scouting Staff
In addition to adding Axelsson, Chiarelli also announced that Keith Gretzky has been promoted to Director of Amateur Scouting and Keith Sullivan has been hired as an amateur scout.
Gretzky, brother to Hall of Famer Wayne Gretzky, first joined the B's in 2011 as an amateur scout based out of Ontario. In his new role, he'll help Director of Player Personnel Scott Bradley oversee the efforts of the team's amateur scouting staff, while spending time scouting players eligible for the draft.
Sullivan comes to the spoked-B following five previous seasons on the scouting staffs of Phoenix and Winnipeg. A recent GM for the United States Hockey League's Muskegon Lumberjacks, Sullivan will be based out of Omaha, Nebraska (an area of the U.S. rich with USHL junior teams - Torey Krug is a former USHL product before he took his talents to Michigan State for college hockey).
More info on the moves can be found in the Bruins' official release.