The following feature is running as part of BostonBruins.com’s #ProspectTBT series, highlighting current Bruins and their paths to the NHL, including key markers like the NHL Entry Draft and the Boston Bruins Development Camp.
BOSTON – Leading a post-practice stretch is a seemingly inconsequential task. But when you are a 21-year-old kid just a year or so into your tenure with a new organization it can be a meaningful step forward – as it was for Adam McQuaid in 2008.
Following an on-ice session at Development Camp that summer, McQuaid was ready to defer the duty to Patrice Bergeron, who was helping instruct the session. But Bergeron insisted that McQuaid take the reins.
“I said, ‘Here man, you can lead the stretch. I don’t want to step on any toes. But [Bergeron] said, ‘No, you go ahead.’ I didn’t mind doing it,” McQuaid said at the time.
Some eight years later, such hesitations do not exist for the now-29-year-old Bruins defenseman. McQuaid has taken charge on plenty of occasions, while blossoming into one of Boston’s most dependable and admired veterans.
McQuaid, a native of Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, made his NHL debut for the Bruins on Dec. 19, 2009, after two-plus seasons in Providence, and has since suited up for 347 games wearing the Spoked-B.
The rugged defenseman was an essential contributor to the Bruins’ 2011 Stanley Cup championship season, playing 67 games and registering a plus-30 rating (third-best in the NHL) in his first full NHL campaign.
He was also a vital piece to the Bruins’ run to the 2013 Stanley Cup Final, tallying two goals and two assists in 22 postseason games, including the series-clinching goal in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals against Pittsburgh.
“You watch that [old interview] and realize how much things have changed,” said McQuaid.
“Obviously time goes by quick, but I’ve had a lot of great memories and good experiences in the time that’s elapsed. It’s pretty neat to go take a trip down memory lane.”
At that Develpoment Camp in 2008 – his second after being acquired by trade from the Columbus Blue Jackets the year before – McQuaid was already reaping praise for his dependability, particularly in the defensive zone.
“There were stretches in Providence where he proved to be a very stabilizing influence,” then-Director of Hockey Operations and Player Development Don Sweeney said in 2008.
“He reads the play well and he's an effective puck mover. He takes pride in his own end. Adam has a bit of a bite to his game and he will stick up for himself and his teammates. He's getting stronger and he can be a physical influence.
“We are pleased with where Adam is at. He has a little way to go yet. He's a solid, steady-Eddie type.
“Those guys are often undervalued and underappreciated."
He has been neither of those things to the Bruins, as McQuaid has become a staple in the Bruins lineup over the last seven seasons. He has scored 10 goals and added 42 assists, while compiling 519 penalty minutes (including 44 fights) and a plus-57 rating.
It was at those early Development Camps that the 6-foot-4, 212-pound blueliner feels he began to carve out his path to a successful NHL career.
“They were huge for me,” said McQuaid. “To get the emphasis on the work ethic, and I think just being able to get to meet other guys that were kind of in the same situation as you were.
“Those are the first times I met guys like Marchy [Brad Marchand] and Tuukka [Rask], the guys I’ve played with for a long time that you hope you grow together and share in a lot of fond memories. That’s kind of where the lifelong friendships begin.”
It was also where McQuaid first met Bergeron, who at the time had already been in the league for several seasons. Bergeron became someone that McQuaid could look to for guidance – both then and now.
“I was kind of just in awe of being around him at that point,” said McQuaid. “You can see his professionalism even at that point and how mature he was for his age. He had the experience. Even though he’s a guy that’s not a whole lot older than me, he’s a guy that I’ve always looked up to. Definitely feel fortunate to have him as a teammate.”
Nowadays, McQuaid has become one of the veterans that younger players turn to for advice. Providence Bruins defenseman Brandon Carlo recently said he tries to model his game after players like McQuaid and Zdeno Chara.
“It’s always an honor to hear something like that,” said McQuaid. “Looking back at this video you see that time has elapsed a little bit and even sometimes you don’t feel like you’re that far ahead of where you’ve been.
“But you see that and realize that you are an older guy now and hopefully can share some of the experiences that you have with younger guys coming in.
“If you can help guys out in any way…it’s kind of that trickle-down effect where guys have done stuff for you in the past.
“Hopefully I can do the same for the next generation of players.”
And maybe some day soon, McQuaid will be telling Carlo it’s his turn to lead the post-practice stretch.
The 2016 Boston Bruins Development Camp, presented by AT&T, will take place from July 12-15, at Ristuccia Arena in Wilmington, Mass. All on-ice sessions are open to the public, with the camp’s roster to be announced at a later date. For the latest information on current Bruins prospects, bookmark BostonBruins.com/prospects.