Drew Stafford joined the Bruins on Thursday night and skated in a practice with the club on Friday. (Sergei Belski/USA Today Sports)
Trade deadlines are rarely fun for the actual participants.
Drew Stafford, acquired from the Jets in exchange for a conditional sixth-round draft pick in 2018 by the Bruins on Wednesday, knows it.
“It’s crazy, I mean, anybody you talk to that goes through it, it’s the same kind of thing. You find out, nowadays, with social media,” Stafford said of the trade process that landed him in Boston. “The TSN guys are sitting in the room there for however long, looking at their phones, and you find out on Twitter or whatever.”
The 31-year-old Stafford was spared the trouble of finding out his fate on his Twitter, though, as it was his agent that broke the news to him.
Nevertheless, you’ve been traded. No big deal. Now imagine having to immediately pack your life in Winnipeg up into a suitcase, catch a connecting flight in Minnesota, saying hi and then bye to your wife, and arrive in Boston just before a game starts. Oh, and your wife, who is back home in Minnesota — which is an hour-plus flight from Winnipeg but much more Boston — is 33 weeks pregnant and thus unable to actually fly with you and join you here.
Welcome to Stafford’s journey to the Hub.
“Yeah, so it’s been a circus. Calling the family and making sure everything’s okay back home, packing up out of Winnipeg,” admitted Stafford, “There’s a lot of moving parts, but, like I said, I’m just excited to be here, excited to get going.”
Picked up by B’s general manager Don Sweeney as an expected boost to the middle lines, and as a likely solution on the B’s third line to the right of Ryan Spooner and Frank Vatrano, Stafford is excited about the prospect of playing in Boston, a city he’s more than familiar thanks to a near decade-long run with the Sabres.
“To play in some of the games we had and the rivalries we had there, I’ll never forget that,” Stafford recalled of the Bruins-Sabres rivalry, which Stafford was apart of during their 2010 playoff series and the unforgettable incident with Ryan Miller and Milan Lucic. “It’s one of those things where you play against a guy for so long, you almost kind of know them a little bit and you kind of feel that way a little bit. Like Chara, Bergeron, Marchand, those guys that have been there forever. Even though I might not know them on a personal level, I know them well enough from playing against them.
“Very familiar with the city, obviously, playing here so much. I can tell you all about Boston Common, that’s pretty much the only area that I’ve stayed. When we came in here, we stayed at the Ritz. I’m just excited here. It’s one of my most favorite cities and to be able to play for a franchise like this with the history and the original team, I could go on and on about that.”
It’s been a struggle of a season for Stafford — he has just four goals and 13 points in 40 games this season, and with a total of 24 games missed to three different injuries — but the Black and Gold view his versatility as a much needed boost to the club.
“I think he can play, probably, anywhere on the right side,” Sweeney said of Stafford, who comes to the Hub with 179 goals and 392 points in 707 NHL games. “Good shot, strength, can get to the net, and has a power play acumen, and has a good shot.”
The Bruins hope for an easy immersion into a B’s sweater for Stafford, too, who was thrilled to land back in a playoff race.
“Unfortunately, the way the season went in Winnipeg, I knew there was a realistic chance that I could get shipped out of there,” said Stafford. “But to be in a place like this with an organization like this, it’s just incredible and I can’t wait to get going.”
Bruins interim head coach Bruce Cassidy has already confirmed that Stafford will play on Saturday night against the Devils.