On Tuesday, July 7, the Boston Bruins’ latest acquisitions—Matt Beleskey and Jimmy Hayes—had their first media scrums representing their new team. They are both extremely happy to be playing in Boston—and each has a different emotional connection to the team and the city.
“Yeah, this has been a dream come true for me, to be able to come home to my hometown and my family and to be able to have this opportunity to win another championship for this city is a dream come true,” Hayes said. “It is going to be a great opportunity for me, to be able to wear a jersey that I dreamed of wearing is a dream come true.”
For Hayes, who was born and raised in Dorchester and went to college at Boston College, where he was part of teams that won a couple of Beanpot Tournaments as well as a couple of Hockey East tournaments, this is not only coming home to where his family is, but also were he has played the most hockey.
“It’s the Boston Bruins. It’s an extremely attractive place to be,” Beleskey said when asked what made Boston so attractive. “It’s an Original Six team. You know, the Big Bad Bruins. They’ve always been a team I’ve liked watching. It’s been a team that I’ve always been drawn to.”
Beleskey and his wife have already taken a tour of the city and he’s been very happy with his experience of the city.
He and Hayes went to Tuesday’s Red Sox game.
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) July 7, 2015
Emotions of coming to Boston though don’t win hockey games. What is it that both of these players are going to bring to the Bruins?
Principally, they are both power forwards, though clearly Hayes has six inches and 17 pounds over Beleskey.
“I’d hope they’d describe me as [a power forward] at 6’6”. Hopefully… I like to play that game. I like to throw my body around,” Hayes laughed. “I just try to play a north-south game and add some skill around the net.”
“I’m going to play my same game, be a power forward and the forecheck and go to the net hard, that’s what I’m going to do,” Beleskey described. “I don’t think I’m here to fill anyone’s spot. I’m here to be Matt Beleskey and play my game and that’s what I’m going to do.”
Both of the players are coming off of good years this past season on their previous teams; Anaheim Ducks for Beleskey and Florida Panthers for Hayes. For each, their goals are to continue to improve. Perhaps more importantly, their style of play fits with the identity that the Boston Bruins lost this past year—that of the Big Bad Bruins.
This isn’t meant to say that they will be crossing the line and physically hurting the other team, but the Bruins are a team that plays better when they can be a little more physical, and they lost some of that identity this past season.
“They’re known as the Big Bad Bruins, so it’s always a heavy game when you’re playing against them,” Hayes explained. “It’s a team that always had a ton of size and a lot of power forwards as well. I think that we’re gonna continue to try and go in that direction; adding a guy like myself and Beleskey. There’a a lot of skill players up front as well.”
And perhaps this is partly where things broke down last season. The skill players were targeted by other teams—especially the young phenom, David Pastrnak—with little retribution in the form of a check in response by the Bruins. Adding Hayes and Beleskey to the lines will undoubtedly offer their linemates some space, and as a result could increase scoring opportunities.
Both players have stressed that they intend to bring their games to their new team. They are looking forward to slotting in wherever head coach Claude Julien feels they belong. At the very least, watching them gel with the core group will certainly be interesting when training camp gets underway later this fall.