BOSTON -- Phil Kessel once leveraged his status as a restricted free agent to get the Boston Bruins to trade him to the Toronto Maple Leafs.
While Kessel has blossomed into a superstar in a Maple Leafs sweater, the TD Garden crowd never misses an opportunity to heave scorn at him whenever Toronto is in town.
One of the draft picks the Bruins received from the Maple Leafs in the Kessel deal was used to pick Tyler Seguin at No. 2 in the 2010 NHL Draft. In three seasons with the Bruins, Seguin won the Stanley Cup as a teenager in 2011, led the team in scoring in 2011-12 and helped the club reach a second Stanley Cup Final in three seasons in June.
Now 21, Seguin was traded to the Dallas Stars on July 4. He left championship memories and some impressive stats in his wake. However, there also were feelings from some inside and outside the organization that he didn't fulfill his potential. There were reports that his off-ice life was diminishing his ability to maximize his talents, and Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli famously questioned Seguin's professionalism leading up to the trade.
So how will the TD Garden crowd greet Seguin on Tuesday in his return to Boston?
"Not a clue," Seguin said after the Stars practiced Monday.
So far, neither team is regretting the trade that landed Seguin and Rich Peverley with the Stars, and Loui Eriksson, Reilly Smith and prospects Matt Fraser and Joseph Morrow with the Bruins. Seguin, who scored 67 points in his second season and had 32 points in 48 games last season, leads the Stars with six goals and 15 points. Peverley has seven points in 13 games after starting the season on injured reserve.
Prior to sustaining a concussion, Eriksson was finding his groove, although he only had three points in eight games. Smith has been a pleasant surprise since winning a regular job among the Bruins' top-nine forwards by scoring seven points in 13 games.
Most important, both teams have compiled solid early-season records -- the Bruins are 8-5-0 while Dallas is 6-6-2.
More importantly for Seguin, this trip provides him a chance to prove the Bruins shouldn't have traded him. He said that regardless of the opponent, that desire is what drives him every night.
"I'm not going to sit here and say that you know when I go and play in a game, even if it's not against Boston, you want to prove people wrong and prove something to you guys [the media] standing here wrong as well," Seguin said. "That's what you do every day. It's not going to change any different whether it's against a certain team."
In fact it might be a little weird for Seguin and Peverley, who were integral parts of a couple of lengthy playoff runs in Boston, to compete against their old teammates. Both players have kept in touch with their former teammates and say they still love the city and the team. The trade moved players, but didn't ruin the memories, especially of 2011.
Peverley was traded before, so he knows more of what to expect.
"I think it'll be the same but there's a lot of guys over there that I developed lifelong relationships with and some of my best friends in hockey, so it'll be hard but then it'll be no different than practicing," he said. "Those guys can practice hard, they're competitive and it'll be fun that way."
Center - DAL
GOALS: 6 | ASST: 9 | PTS: 15
SOG: 36 | +/-: 1
The Bruins acquired Peverley midway through the 2010-11 season. He proved to be a perfect all-around fit and finished the postseason with 12 points in 25 games playing mostly on the third line and then on the first line after Nathan Horton
was injured in the Cup Final. However, he followed a 42-point 2011-12 season with 18 points in 47 games last season.
With the reduction in the League's salary cap, the Bruins decided the best way to keep the majority of their core together was to trade Seguin and Peverley.
"I think they had their reasons and whether you put it on the cap … I don't think you could put it on one particular reason, but I've moved on here and I'm excited to be in Dallas," Seguin said.
The crowd Tuesday might be one of those mixed groups that boos him and cheers him depending on a prior opinion of Seguin. This might be a case of wishing Seguin well, as long as he doesn't fare too well against the Bruins. Although he's now wearing the Stars sweater and figures to be in the League a long time and might change teams several more times, he's always going to consider Boston one of his homes.
"I know I'm not part of Boston anymore, but it's always going to be a part of me," Seguin said. "And I'm still going to visit in the summers all the time. So it's still nice to be here again."