Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Where Were They Then?

With the Boston Bruins paying their first business trip to Winnipeg since Dec. 31, 1995, now is the time to assess how much has changed in each Bruins’ life and career in the 16-year Jets-free interlude.

Here is a quick note as to where each current Boston player and coach was in the middle of the 1995-96 season and, in at least some cases, a factoid as to where they are on this day.

Tyler Seguin was three years of age going on four in Greater Toronto when the Bruins last visited the old Jets. The franchise’s first visit to the new Jets will also happen to be Seguin’s 100th regular-season game in the NHL.

Jordan Caron was barely old enough to be filed under “Tyke” in Hockey Canada’s age classifications.

Steven Kampfer, depending on his local cutoff date, was either in first or second grade and filed under “Mite” by USA Hockey.

Milan Lucic was old enough to be in second grade. Now he’s on the first line.

Brad Marchand, like Lucic, could not have been anywhere beyond “Grade 2” as they might have phrased it in his native Halifax. Now he is in Year 2 as an established NHL winger.

Tuukka Rask was eight years old in his native Finland. He is now on the verge of his 88th career regular-season start in the NHL.

Benoit Pouliot was an Atom (9-10 age group) player in Ontario.

David Krejci was not yet 10 years old in the Czech Republic and would not resettle in North America for another eight seasons and shortly after the Bruins drafted in the third round in 2004. Since joining the Gatineau Olympiques in the QMJHL, however, he has found steady employment on this side of the Atlantic.

Adam McQuaid was not yet out of elementary school.

Patrice Bergeron was in Grade 5 and in his final year as an Atom. Now he is not too far away from Game No. 500 in his ninth year with the Spoked-Bs.

Nathan Horton, who is Bergeron’s age, has already surpassed 500 career NHL appearances. But two more minor penalties, one more double minor or one more major and he will crack the 500 plateau in the penalty-minute column as well.

Johnny Boychuk was old enough to be in junior high.

Ditto Gregory Campbell and linemate Daniel Paille, who each made their OHL debuts in 2000.

Rich Peverley was old enough to be an eighth grade student. He is now in his eighth year of professional hockey and slated to put in his 300th NHL appearance with his first-ever NHL twirl at the MTS Centre, where he used to visit the Manitoba Moose in his AHL days.

Dennis Seidenberg still needed to wait two more years before joining one of the lower tiers of his native land’s Deutsche Eishockey Liga.

Chris Kelly was still in minor hockey and one year away from stepping into the Junior A ranks in his native Ontario. He was still a decade removed from a permanent spot in The Show but has not looked back since the end of the lockout.

Andrew Ference was in his first full season with the WHL’s Portland Winter Hawks, with whom he played for three more years before turning professional at the start of 1999-00.

Shawn Thornton was in his first of two seasons with the Peterborough Petes, a stint that in turn led to four full years with the Toronto Maple Leafs’ AHL affiliate and then six back-and-forth years before coming to Boston.

Joe Corvo was a freshman at Western Michigan University, where he stayed until after his junior season before beginning a minor-league journey in 1998-99. He is now seven outings away, including Tuesday night’s in Winnipeg, from hitting 600 in his NHL game log.

Zdeno Chara was still one year away from relocating to North America and making his Canadian major junior debut with the Prince George Cougars.

Tim Thomas was a junior at the University of Vermont, on the way to his best college campaign that saw him post a 26-7-4 record and help the Catamounts to a Frozen Four appearance. Now he is following up on his best NHL campaign to date.

Head coach Claude Julien was three years removed from ending his playing career and one season away from his debut behind the bench of the Quebec League’s Hull Olympiques.

Julien would help Hull to a league playoff championship and Memorial Cup the following year – Winnipeg’s first without the NHL. And he would not recreate that feeling for himself until last spring, when his Bruins won the Stanley Cup two weeks after the Jets confirmed their reincarnation for this season.