There was no pomp or circumstance surrounding the announcement, perhaps because Matt Poitras’ play took all the drama out of it.
“He’s sticking around,” said coach Jim Montgomery on Tuesday morning at Warrior Ice Arena.
The Bruins had nine games to decide whether to keep the 19-year-old rookie in Boston and burn a year of his entry level contract or send him back to his Canadian junior team in Guelph. He’s got 3-2- totals and is plus-4 in those first nine games and essentially made himself too important to the Boston Bruins for him to be playing anywhere else.
“(With) his play, he earned it,” said Montgomery. “I think we’re comfortable with him. No guarantees here the rest of the year, but we feel the way he’s progressed that for the time being he’s going to be a Bruin and he’s helping us win hockey games. That’s the most important thing, right? He’s still 19, so we’re going to be cautious.”
Montgomery would not rule out giving him a night off here and there as Anaheim has done with their star teenager Leo Carlsson. But with the injury bug that has hit the B’s they just can’t afford to sit him out right now. And right now, he hasn’t showed signs that he’s in need of a break.
“He’s played faster, he’s continued to get better at both ends of the ice, but what’s appealing to us is that every time you start to think, well, this might be too much, whether it was the exhibition season or these nine games, he just always finds a way to (show) he belong. He belongs. He just belongs,” said Montgomery.
The skill of Poitras was never really questioned. He posted 16-79-95 totals in Guelph last year. But skill alone doesn’t guarantee an NHL career. One of his most eye-popping traits is his doggedness on the puck.
“That’s the number one reason why he’s going to play a 10th game, because of that,” said Montgomery. “We see the hockey IQ, we see the skill, we see the vision. But if you don’t compete and you don’t have natural second and third effort, especially at a young age, it’s hard to stay in the league. And that’s been the best quality as to why we think he’s earned this.”
Poitras was unavailable to reporters because he had meetings, according to B’s public relations. It’s a good bet one of the things to be discussed with GM Don Sweeney was how exactly does a 19-year-old who has never lived on his own go about living in a city like Boston. He’s been living in a local hotel.
Montgomery is comfortable with the support system the B’s have in place.
“We use all avenues at our disposal,” said Montgomery. “We have sports psychology, we have athletic trainers, we have sports science and then you have the experience of people like Don Sweeney, he’s great at understanding time management and all of that stuff and imparting that knowledge. And we have great team leaders that take guys under their wing like (Brad Marchand) and (David Pastrnak) and (Charlie McAvoy) and (Hampus) Lindholm and (Brandon) Carlo .We have so many resources here within our culture in the Bruins organization, then you have the alums that are around, with a guy like (Patrice) Bergoenr or (Ray) Bourque. We have a president (Cam Neely) that’s pretty good as a player. We have so many resources and we encourage our players to use all those resources.”
Even the the B’s have started the season at 8-0-1, they are in a transitional year after the retirements of foundational players Bergeron and David Krejci. But there can be an upside to the turnover, and we’re seeing it with both Poitras and rookie John Beecher.
“You always feel the young guys bring you youthful, innocent energy that lifts everybody up,” said Montgomery. “It reminds you of your first days in the NHL because of how excited you were, to go on the road, oh my God, you’re on a plane, you’re not on a bus. All those things. We have a couple of those players who are new to the league and young and they’re bringing us that kind of energy. In fact, we need more of it.”…
The B’s will be without Matt Grzelcyk (uper body) and are expecting to miss Charlie McAvoy for Thursday’s game against Toronto. McAvoy was scheduled for a phone hearing with the league for his high, late hit on Oliver Ekman-Larson on Monday night.
Ian Mitchell, who played a couple of games earlier in the season, is a candidate to come up and Montgomery said that first-year pro Mason Lohrei is as well.
“He’s definitely one of the players we’d consider,” said Montgomery.
“I think he had a really good weekend (in Providence). We’re excited about the player because of what he did in camp, as probably you guys are.”