On what was supposed to have been the NHL‘s opening night, when the Boston Bruins would presumably have been busy defeating the Philadelphia Flyers to get their first win of the season (Dougie Hamilton would have probably netted his first goal and assist in the NHL and Nathan Horton would’ve made some sort of a splash in his return to playing) if not for the lockout, four Bruins went out into the Boston community to visit two peewee teams in the area.
The NHL Players’ Association has been organizing these visits and many players chronicle them by posting pictures on their Twitter accounts and using the hashtag #foundaplacetoskate. Johnny Boychuk, Gregory Campbell, Brad Marchand and Daniel Paille all #foundaplacetoskate now, too. Paille, the Bruins’ NHLPA representative, was instrumental in launching the idea of these surprise visits.
Boychuk and Paille joined a South Boston peewee team at the Francis Murray rink and Campbell and Marchand met with a Cambridge team at Simoni Memorial Arena. They didn’t just sit on the sidelines either–they got into the action. Boychuk and Paille actually found themselves getting cut (only jokingly, of course) from the team as they took part in drills with the young players. Campbell and Marchand joined in a scrimmage with their peewee pals.
Then, after the on-ice fun was over, the guys all hung around to take pictures and sign autographs for the kids. Marchand even got bowled over by a big, excited group of the little ones. Those kids are definitely going to remember that experience, probably for the rest of their lives.
Paille said that these visits are just a nice thing players can do for their supportive fan communities while the NHL doors are still locked. They may also be a good option for players who might not be the most likely to go to play in Europe during the lockout. For example, Shawn Thornton recently told the Pure Hockey crew during a visit to their Medford store that the Euro option is generally for the top six guys on a team. (He’s been keeping up his workouts and skating, using Boston University’s facilities when needed.)
By the way, for those really aching for Bruins hockey–even if it’s from the recent past–there are two options:
1. NESN is going through a re-airing of the road to the 2011 Stanley Cup starting with the quarterfinal round against Montreal.
2. For those who do not have NESN or only have it via NHL Center Ice, Youtube user dafoomie is uploading a full-length game between the Bruins and whichever team was on the schedule for the wiped-out two weeks of games. A January 2011 game between the Bruins and Flyers has been uploaded already and next will be a Devils game to be determined: