With the season opening at home Wednesday against the Flyers, the Bruins don’t have long to be upset about the loss of one of their best teammates.
Still, even coach Claude Julien said after Saturday’s preseason finale that the team will take a little time to get over “the sting” of losing Johnny Boychuk ($3.37 million) to the harsh realities of today’s salary cap NHL.
Torey Krug, just 23, now understands just how important managing the salary cap is for each team after spending most of the summer without a contract because GM Peter Chiarelli couldn’t fit him under the cap. Krug and Reilly Smith had to wait all summer and through most of camp to sign their $1.4 million deals because the team couldn’t sign them.
“[It's] another lesson in the business for me,” said Krug. “I learned a few things this summer for sure, and it’s always going to be part of it forever as long as this game exists and the cap situation exists in this sport, so it’s tough to see him go for sure.”
Several defenseman will have to pick up the slack for Boychuk and will have the opportunity to step right in play a bigger role for the 30-year-old who was considered one of the heart-and-soul parts of their Stanley Cup run in 2011 and their finals appearance in 2013.
Adam McQuaid, Matt Bartkowski and Torey Krug are all younger than Boychuk and all will likely get chances to play alongside Dennis Seidenberg on Boston’s No. 2 D-pairing.
“I mean it’s been like this the last few years so it doesn’t really change anything,” Seidenberg said. “For me, it’s just trying to play wherever they put me and trying to do it well.”
“I didn’t know that’there was some talk about different things and stuff but I was pretty much shocked,” McQuaid said in reacting Saturday. “I don’t know, I guess maybe we all just kind of had that hope in the back of our minds that somehow we could all stay. He’s a guy that’s a huge part of this team and for me a guy that always put a smile on my face every day. Always came to the rink in a good mood and was cracking jokes. I think I’ve played seven pro seasons and six have been with Johnny so we’ve been through a lot together. He’s a guy that’I don’t think it’s really sunk in quite yet’but a guy that will be sorely missed.”
The 27-year-old McQuaid, who now takes Boychuk’s spot as the third-oldest blueliner on the Bruins, isn’t looking immediately at the trade as a sign that his future in Boston is more secure.
“Not necessarily. I don’t look at it that way,” McQuaid said. “I think if anything it’s a reality check. Anything can happen. Just because that one move is made doesn’t mean that more moves can’t be made. You want to prove yourself every day and do what you can to be a part of this team.
“I was really surprised. Again I don’t think it’s really sunk in yet. I guess there was talk about one defenseman having to be moved and I think we all just kind of hoped that there was somehow that we could all stay a part of this group. I think it will take a little time to sink in.”
Behind McQuaid in experience are Kevan Miller, Bartkowski, Krug and Dougie Hamilton, who is slotted into the No. 1 pairing with Zdeno Chara.
McQuaid knows he and the other young D will have to step up their game.
“Yeah it will be a thing that we’ll have to do by committee,” McQuaid said. “It will be probably everybody chipping in a little bit here and there to fill that void and guys will have to step up.
“I guess that just goes hand in hand with the situation. At this juncture you just have to wrap your head around everything. It happened just as I was coming to the rink and I had to put it in the back of my mind to focus on the game and just kept trying not to think about it and trying not to think about it and I still haven’t had a chance to really reflect on it so I don’t really know what to say.
“You guys [media] all know what Johnny’s personality is. He’s a great friend, a great teammate and a guy that’s just always in a good mood. He’s a guy that will put a smile on your face and the same time a guy that battled on the ice. You knew you were going to get everything from him and that’s what you want from a teammate. You respect that. It will be something that well all have to, kind of, chip in and raise our game to fill that void.”
Here were some of the other Bruins who reacted Saturday to the trade:
Patrice Bergeron: “We’re going to miss him. He was a great teammate for us, a great player as well. He always went to battle every night and we won a Cup together so ‘ definitely a guy that we’re all close to and [we] wish him all the best in Long Island.
“We had depth on defense and I think everybody knew that we had eight guys and that it was an option, something that might happen. And it was Johnny. So, we have plenty of confidence in all the guys that are here right now. That being said, he was definitely a big part of our defense. But, like I said, I feel confident with all the guys I have.”
“I guess it’s the cap era with the salary cap. I think it’s things that are going to happen around the league and as much as I want to see that happening, at some point some difficult decisions are going to happen. Is it a new era? I’m not sure. Hopefully we can create some more memories with the team that we have and relive 2011. It’s always about that. So, like I said, I wish him all the best and I feel great with the defensive corps that we have.”
Torey Krug: “He’s a big part of this room. For me personally, he was a guy that took me under his wing when I first got here and made me feel really comfortable in this room, and he was a big part. It’s the sad part about the business. Your friends go and it’s tough.
“Yeah that can be tough for sure. This is my first taste of it, so this is all new to me. I’m coming into a season where I tried to prepare as best I could, and you look at the group of guys around you and you think everybody’s going to be there, and unfortunately they’re not, so it’s definitely a tough part of it for sure.
“Obviously we know everything we have in Johnny, and he’s a great hockey player and an even better person and fits in very well in this locker room. Times like this though you trust your GM. We know he’s doing everything he can to make this team a better team, and you just trust him, so yeah it’s tough.”
Dennis Seidenberg: “It’s pretty sad. He was a big part of our team. He was always a guy that played his heart out every night on the ice and to see him go is tough but that’s how the business goes in the salary cap era. You just have to try to move forward and pick up the slack he left. I mean everybody understands that it had to be done because there was no room and that’s why it happened. For us, again, we have to move forward and focus on the regular season on Wednesday and that’s about it.
“He definitely talked about it but he handled it very well, I think. He knows that he’s in a good spot moving forward whether it’s with his current team or wherever it’s going to be. But he knows that he’s got a good few years ahead of him and he’ll be all set. The first time I heard of it was when Johnny [Boychuk] said bye to everybody in a group text. So, I was kind of surprised. I think everybody knew that something was going to happen eventually; it was just a matter of time. But, I didn’t expect it today or [it to be] Johnny.
“I think we’re set up pretty well. I think, again, we have a good mix of young guys and old guys. Guys can really move up-ice and catch the plays out defensively. I think everybody brings something to the table and I think we’ll be good. It’s pretty tough. He was a big part; he was a funny guy like you know. He was very vocal on and off the ice and everybody loved him. We lost our D.J. so that’s another tough part. So, it hurts that he left.
“It remains to be seen. We’re just starting our regular season and I think we’re ready to go. I think we have the guys to pick up what he left and we’ll see.”
Milan Lucic: “We shared a lot of special times together so definitely going to miss him. He called me after it happened. It was definitely an emotional phone call between the two of us, and all you can do now is just wish him all the best in his future. [He was a] well-liked, popular guy, not just off the ice, for who he was off the ice. Everyone respected him for what he did on the ice just as much. A warrior, a guy who played the way that he did and didn’t miss too many games because of his durability and I think he was a big part of this team, kind of helping solidify that defense corps that we were able to get to that next level, that championship level, and as a guy, as a teammate, just as an overall person and a professional, he’s, I think he’s deeply going to be missed.
“It is hard, but you look at our management and their track record and what they’ve done over the last seven years and what they’ve done with the teams that they’ve put together. They’ve always done a great job so as a player I’ve never questioned any of the moves that they’ve made trading big names like even [Phil] Kessel and [Tyler] Seguin and we’re still able to be an elite team in the NHL, so we trust that the management believes in the guys that are in this room, and we have to believe in each other as well.
“To be honest, I didn’t even know what to expect. I had no idea what management was thinking. I was more focused on just trying to get myself ready to go with the injury and all that type of stuff more than what was going on from that standpoint, and the move was made. You hope that what we got in return can turn into some pretty valuable players, and still as a player I think there’s a lot to look forward to heading into this season even with this deal.”
Zdeno Chara: “I think that we all really feel that Johnny is such a great teammate. Always loyal and always willing to do whatever is being asked for him. It’s not very easy to see one of your teammates and good friends to be traded but I’m sure that everybody tried their best to keep the team together. We have to move on. Obviously we wish him all the best. He will always be very much missed and all of the memories we have while he was playing here are always going to be with us.
“Well you don’t know if it’s going to make us worse. It’s something that I guess I really wish that we’d be able to keep everybody together for a long time but you always try to improve the team. At certain times it’s not always easy, like I said, to keep certain guys in positions. Sometimes, as we know, it’s a game of numbers and we know who were talking about right now.
“Yeah I mean it’s something that we have to turn the page on. Focus on what’s coming up. You have to be willing to adjust to these kinds of situations and moves. Sometimes they come early in the season and sometimes they come right before the trade deadline. It’s just one of those things that you have to be able to take and then basically move on. Like I said, were all going to miss him. We all know Johnny was such a great teammate on and off the ice. He was always happy, always made it very fun but it is what it is. Sometimes things like this happen and players can’t control them.
“Johnny was always such a fun guy to be around. His presence was always such a gift for this team. Winning is always something that’s always on top of the list. For sure, those memories will always stay with all of us.”