Tuesday wasn’t all bad for the Boston Bruins.
Despite losing a tough one against the unstoppable Rangers and Henrik Lundqvist, the Bruins did manage to sign defenseman Johnny Boychuk to a three-year contract extension.
The 28-year old signed to 3.1, 3.4, and 3.6 million over the next three seasons with a limited no-trade clause. Next season, he will become the second highest paid defenseman on the Bruins.
Boychuk has been a relatively solid defenseman for the Bruins so far in his time with the team. He’s played in 53 games, with three goals and he picked up seven assists this season alone. He also ranks number two for the Bruins’ blue liners in plus/minus with a +23 on the season prior to the Rangers matchup.
With a Stanley Cup under his belt and playing in for an Original Six team, its easy to overlook his road to the NHL with his current success. But, Boychuk certainly remembers his journey to the NHL wasn’t all it was cracked up to be.
“It was awful,” said Boychuk remembering his time in the AHL, “The bus rides, then you go back home and think about maybe getting a job for the summer time.”
With a bright future for the Bruins’ defenseman and with 10.1 million extension over the next three years, worrying about paying the bills certainly won’t be a problem like it had been in his time in the AHL.
“Being a normal person when you have to work out and train really hard,” said Boychuk. “It’s tough when you’re a minor league player and you don’t make enough [money]. People think you make a lot but you don’t. You have to go home and pay for a lot of things, especially training.”
But his experiences leading to his career in the NHL may have been just the thing Boychuk needed to be the player he has turned out to be today.
“When you look back at that it’s probably a blessing in disguise that it happened, because it toughens you up, playing in the minor leagues. Taking those bus rides, you know grinding it out,” continued Boychuck, “you really get to appreciate it and you make sure that you don’t go back there.”
And of course, Boychuk certainly wont be going to the AHL anytime soon, with the chemistry he brings on the ice with his fellow defensemen and a Stanley Cup, along with the loyal Boston fans supporting him, staying in Boston was an easy decision for Boychuk.
“Oh Boston as a city is probably the best place to play I think,” he said, ” even though I haven’t really played anywhere else. The fans are just so into it, they’re always cheering – sold out every night. Why wouldn’t you want to stay here?”
And the Bruins management is 100% behind him.
“Johnny really wanted to stay in here,” said GM Peter Chiarelli. “I think thats the overriding theme. He has obviously been a good performer for us. He’s a Bruin type player- physical, and yet he can score the shot, and he’s a punishing player.”
Boychuk also signed his extension early, without looking at the other options out there for him, showing that his hearts in Boston and that’s just fine with the Bruins.
“He chose not to test the market,” said Chiarelli, “which was nice for us, and we have him under contract for three more years.”