BOSTON -– Just when you thought Hammonds Plains, Nova Scotia had done all it could for the Bruins already, along comes another native son of the small Maritimes hamlet just outside of Halifax.
Hammonds Plains has already produced spark plug forward Brad Marchand, who was instrumental in last year's Cup run. On Monday, Marchand's old neighbor arrived to reinforce the blue line when defenseman Andrew Bodnarchuk was recalled from Providence.
"It's great," Marchand said of the reunion after the Bruins practiced Monday at the Garden. "He's worked very hard and he’s definitely excited to be here. It's great to have him here and be playing together again."
Marchand and Bodnarchuk, both now 23, grew up playing with each other in Nova Scotia, a connection strengthened when they joined forces first in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League in Halifax in 2007-08 and then again for better part of the following two seasons with the Bruins' American Hockey League affiliate in Providence.
When asked how long they had known each other, Marchand joked, "Too long. Thirteen years, something like that. It's been a while."
They were both drafted by the Bruins in 2006 and made their NHL debuts in the 2009-10 season, even managing to play together in two of the five games Bodnarchuk appeared in that April.
"We grew up and played minor hockey together, drafted to the same junior team," Bodnarchuk said. "When we played in Providence we were roommates together, and we're here now."
But while Marchand grabbed hold of a regular spot up front last year and enjoyed a breakthrough season, Bodnarchuk didn't get another sniff of the NHL until Monday. Marchand admires his friend's determination to keep his NHL dream alive through another frustrating season in the minors.
"He's been playing very well," Marchand said. "It just shows that he wasn't getting down. He was just waiting for his opportunity. Some guys have to wait a little longer than others, but what matters is you take advantage when you get it."
Naturally, when Bodnarchuk got the news that he would be getting the call-up on Sunday, he was quick to check in with his old buddy and fellow Maritimes native Adam McQuaid, who hails from Prince Edward Island. Marchand proved a little tougher to track down though.
"He's a busy bee, he's a tough guy to get a hold of sometimes," Bodnarchuk said. "But I talked to him and McQuaid when I found out and went out to dinner with McQuaid [Sunday] night. So it's good to see the guys, especially up here."
In a statement sure to send chills down the spine of anyone who remembers the constant stream of shirtless Marchand photos appearing on the Internet throughout the team's Cup celebrations last summer, Bodnarchuk said he plans to call upon the more experienced Marchand for his guidance on and off the ice.
"Marchy will keep me in line," Bodnarchuk deadpanned before admitting, "There was a little bit of sarcasm in that."
Not even Marchand was buying that anyway. "He's just pulling your leg on that one," Marchand said.
That’s nothing new for this pair. Last year's media guide featured several unexplained entries on their respective bios, with Marchand’s "hidden talent" listed as, "I'm awesome at hopscotch." Bodnarchuk, meanwhile, had his entry for "something about him that would surprise his teammates" recorded as, "I hate cotton balls."
Without admitting any guilt for those past entries, Marchand did note that there may be an explanation for this season's more routine responses on the players' bios. "We filled out our own this year," Marchand said.
Next season, Marchand and Bodnarchuk just hope the media guide shows plenty of games played together down the stretch of this season.