The Bruins have a large hole in their leadership group with the losses of Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci and Nick Foligno.
It is a good bet that Brad Marchand will replace Bergeron as captain, but he’ll need other people to step up for a team that has seen a lot of turnover.
David Pastrnak, seemingly the forever-young little brother of the leadership, will no doubt be asked to take a larger role in that department.
While it’s still rare to see Pastrnak without a smile on his face, he’s not exactly the same happy-go-lucky kid he was when he arrived here in 2014. He is a veteran of 592 regular season NHL games and another 77 playoff games. He’s only the second Bruin to hit the 60-goal plateau (Phil Esposito being the other) and he’s about to be paid handsomely for it, with his new eight-year contract that will pay him an average annual value of $11.25 million about it to kick in this season.
Pastrnak, who arrived in Boston on Sunday night and participated in Monday’s captain’s practice at Warrior Ice Arena, believes he’s following in the footsteps of some great leaders.
“In my time, I’ve had (Zdeno Chara) and Bergy and Krech. Half the guys here spent time with them on the team and we are privileged to have learned from these guys and grown as players and as human beings. Not everyone is so lucky to play under the leadership like we had these past couple decades that they’ve been here,” said Pastrnak.
Pastrnak is thrilled to have back Milan Lucic, who he said looked out for him when he was a rookie.
“I’m so happy to have him back. It’s been a long time since we’ve been on the team (together), but I always remember my first couple of years,” said Pastrnak. “He’s one of those guys who helped me to (mature) as a human being and as a player. I still remember the day he got traded. So he brings some memories back and I’m really excited to have him back, just like the whole city is.”
If there’s anything he’s learned from past leaders it is to stay connected with your teammates.
“You check up on every single guy,” said Pastrnak. “You’re here every day, so these guys are like your second family. It is our job here, but at the same time every single guy in this room lives a life, has a family and kids, so it’s very important to check up. They say the sun comes up every day but it can be a gray day for you. So you help each other out, you’re there for each other. It’s definitely something where Bergy wouldn’t miss a day to check up in a guy and help them out with whatever. He helped me out going through my career. Time flies. I’m going on 10 years. I’m not so young anymore.”
Pastrnak has experienced his share of gray days. Two summers ago, he and his partner Rebecca suffered an unspeakable tragedy when their first child Viggo Rohl, died after six days.
In June, the couple announced the birth of their daughter, Freya Ivy.
“It’s been amazing turning your life around,” said a beaming Pastrnak. “It was great to have time to spend with my family this summer. It was perfect timing and we’ve been enjoying every day.”
From a hockey standpoint, the retirements of Bergeron and Krejci means the loss of the two centers with whom he’s played the bulk of his career. While things can change quickly, it’s expected that Pastrnak will get a first look with Pavel Zacha as his center. Zacha played a lot with Pastrnak last year, but mostly as the left wing on the all-Czech line with Krejci centering.
“We played with Pav, same language, same nationality. It’s a very easy transition to play with him,” said Pastrnak. “He’s a very smart hockey player. He can adapt. Not every hockey player has that (ability) to adapt to other hockey players. And he has it. I think it’s going to be very easy for him to elevate, whether he’s playing as a center or wing. I obviously had some great games with him.” …
Danton Heinen, signed to a tryout agreement, made his first appearance at captain’s practice. Heinen hopes to make a second go-round with the B’s, who drafted him in 2014. He was in his third full NHL season when the B’s traded him to Anaheim for Nick Ritchie at the trade deadline in 2020. Heinen also has a chance to be reunited with Jim Montgomery, who coached him at Denver.
“That for sure (played a part),” said Heinen of Montgomery. “I know he’s a smart coach and I know most of the coaching staff here. And I know some of the guys, so it’s good to have some familiar faces.”
Heinen played the last two years in Pittsburgh, where he notched a career-high in goals (18) two years ago. Now it’s back to where he started, and the trade that sent him away is in his rearview mirror.
“It’s the business. It caught me off-guard a little, but that’s the nature of the beast. Those things happen. I loved my time here, but it is what it is. No hard feelings and I’m happy to be back,” said Heinen. …
The B’s announced some hockey operations hires, including John McLean as an assistant coach. He joined the organization as a skills coach last year. Also hired were Dan Darrow (assistant video coordinator), Josh Pohlkamp-Hartt (associate director of hockey analytics), Campbell Weaver ((director of hockey systems), Derek MacKinnon (pro scout) and Milan Jurcina (European scout)….
The Bruins rookies lost their final game of the Prospects Challenge in Buffalo to the New Jersey Devils, 4-2. Curtis Hall and Brett Harrison were the B’s goalscorers. The B’s finished 1-2 in the tourney.