BROSSARD – Bud Holloway’s road to the NHL might have been long, but the right-winger never stopped working to reach his goal.
A third-round pick of the Los Angeles Kings back in 2006, Holloway spent three seasons with the AHL’s Manchester Monarchs between 2008 and 2011. Unfortunately, he never received a call from the big club to pack his bags for the City of Angels.
As a result, Holloway headed overseas to Skelleftea, a city of about 72,000 people in the northwestern part of Sweden, to ply his trade with AIK in the Swedish Elite League. Even if he paced his squad to championships in 2013 and 2014, Holloway admits that his dream was always to one day play in the NHL.
“I was really far from the NHL when I was in Europe for four years,” explained Holloway, who was Sweden’s top scorer in 2013, amassing 71 points in 55 games. “By playing hockey in Europe, I had a few doubts that I’d be able to eventually re-adjust to the game in North America. I had a lot of help from my coaches to get used to things again.”
Not only did Holloway have to adjust to a different style of hockey on the other side of the pond, but he also had to learn a few other things along the way in Sweden, and then in Switzerland, where he spent the 2014-15 season with SC Bern under the watchful eye of former Canadiens minor league coach, Guy Boucher.
“I learned about the different cultures and customs in Europe. When you’re at home here, it’s easy. There, it can be difficult going grocery shopping, for example, because of a language barrier,” mentioned Holloway. “That really puts you in a situation where you want to learn new languages and new traditions. It makes things really interesting, especially away from the rink.”
That learning experience aside, Holloway never lost sight of his primary objective. He even admits that Boucher always supported him in his quest to return to North America. Whatever was supposed to happen would ultimately happen.
“My agent got in touch with me over the summer to let me know that there was an offer on the table. Things happened pretty fast,” explained Holloway, who doesn’t really know which Canadiens scout he impressed at some point in time. “I really didn’t know what to expect. Four years had gone by since I played on the other side of the Atlantic. My agent put my name out there and I was really happy that the Canadiens gave me a look.”
Returning to Canada over the summer, the Wapella, SK native got right back to work and became the IceCaps’ top offensive threat before receiving a call from Montreal.
“I’m getting my first call at 27 years old. I’m really excited right now,” admitted Holloway. “I was called into the office and they told me that I had a flight out at 5 a.m. the next morning. I was in shock. Everything happened so fast. I went home, called my dad, and tried to get a few minutes of sleep.”
Holloway’s call-up to the Canadiens means that Sylvain Lefebvre has lost a key member of his squad for now.
“I try to be a leader in St. John’s. I do everything I can. There, I’m a veteran at 27 years old. We’ve got a very young group and my goal is to lead by example,” explained Holloway, who has 20 points in 18 games during the 2015-16 campaign, which puts him among the AHL’s top point-getters.
And his nickname, Bud?
“That comes from my babysitter. I’m George III, so it was just easier to give me a nickname. It made things less confusing,” cracked Holloway.
Welcome to Montreal, Bud!
Vincent Cauchy is a writer for canadiens.com. Translated by Matt Cudzinowski.