This summer, Mark Mowers has been one of the ten (or so) Bruins who have hit Ristuccia Memorial Arena earlier than required in order to prepare for the upcoming NHL season. During those impromptu practice sessions, Mowers has become somewhat of an elder statesman amongst the bunch.
While 261 NHL games is not an enormous number to some, but for the relative newcomers who have been skating alongside "Mo" recently, it’s a pretty fancy number.
"It's a little different, especially because I think I will be the second oldest guy at camp," Mowers said, with a little sheepishness on Thursday. "But at the same time, at 33 years old I don't have as many games as most 33 year-old players do.
"Most of the guys who are in the league at 33 have played in the NHL since they've been 22 or something.
"For me, it's been a battle," he said.
It has been a battle for Mark to stay in the NHL. Before hooking on with the Bruins last year, the forward played parts of five seasons in "The Show" for the Nashville Predators and Detroit Red Wings. In between those major league stints, the IHL, AHL and Europe beckoned.
As such, Mowers has a clear understanding of his role, which is encapsulated in his TSN.ca scouting report: Brings a lot of energy to the lineup. Can play both center or wing. Has a history of point production in the minor leagues.
That same report projects him as a fourth-line forward. And yes, last year with Boston, Mowers played most of his minutes on the third or fourth lines. Regardless of where he ends up on the depth chart, however, Mowers knows what he has to do to make himself integral to the team.
"I think I am going to approach (this season) the same way I have over the last 4 or 5 years," said Mark. "I am going to go out there and do the little things.
"They might not be the most flashy goals or the most unbelievable passes, but getting in quick on the forecheck or backchecking, little intangibles -- that's what I think I can contribute."
"And I think I did contribute to the team last year," he said.
Mowers certainly was a useful player for the B's last season, playing 78 games and earning a 5-12-17 line -- often as a member of the clubs checking line. That's tough duty for a former collegiate sniper listed at 5'11 and 181-pounds.
It's all part of the job for Mowers, as is welcoming the newer players to the locker room.
"I hope that I am looked at as someone that the younger players can come to for advice," said Mowers. "I enjoy helping them out -- if they want it.
"I am not going to be pushy, but I am obviously there for the guys if they need anything."
After a few weeks of pre-preseason sessions, training camp is a welcome prospect for Mowers.
"It's four or five really tough days of rigorous workouts," he said. "But I think you have to look forward to it, rather than being mentally scared of it.
"Yah, it is hard work, but it's also the beginning of a new year that you are never going to get back.
"You enjoy the guys that are around you and hopefully the team comes together as quickly as possible," he said.
Beyond team chemistry, pride factors into the equation this season -- pride as an NHLer and most especially pride in the spoked-B.
Mowers said that the B on the jersey should be very important to the players who wear it.
"(Boston) is a great hockey city and the fans deserve it," he said. "Signing on last year, that is something I envisioned, being part of the turnaround and still being part of the finished product.
"I think it would be an unbelievable party if we can turn this thing around…you just know it would be."
If all the players come into camp with the same attitude as Mark Mowers, chances are pretty good that party will happen sooner than later.