That’s how the newest Bruin ended up with No. 47, which defenseman Torey Krug donned when he hit the ice in Black and Gold for the first time Tuesday for the club's morning skate at the Garden.
Krug was signed as an undrafted free agent out of Michigan State on Sunday, and will be with the Bruins for the rest of the regular season. He is not eligible for the postseason because he was signed after the trade deadline.
Despite being a newcomer to the organization, Krug showed some knowledge of the franchise's proud tradition on defense with the selection of his new number.
"I was 44 at Michigan State," said Krug, who was unable to keep that with veteran Dennis Seidenberg already wearing it in Boston. "When I talk about 47 I like to think about Bobby Orr and Ray Bourque, a little bit of a mix of those two. Obviously being an Original Six team all the lower numbers were taken, so it was just something I liked and picked it up."
The nod to history was enough to overcome the fact that 47 was last worn by a Michigan man, with Steven Kampfer using the number until his trade to Minnesota at last month's deadline. Wolverines and Spartans don't usually mix well, but Krug was OK with following in the footsteps of a rival on this occasion.
"I knew that, I obviously watched Kampfer, but that's all right," Krug said. "I'm wearing it now."
The question is whether Krug will be wearing the number in a game anytime soon. He joins a crowed blue line that's already scratching two veterans each night, but Bruins coach Claude Julien wouldn't rule out giving the youngster a chance at some point.
"I've heard a lot of good things about this player, and certainly haven't had a chance to see him play," Julien said. "But we can get a pretty good idea just by watching him in practices, and [Wednesday] he’ll get a chance for a full practice with us and we'll see where we go from there. I'm certainly not going to tell you right now that he's not going to play. We may give him an opportunity. It depends on how everything goes. But the one thing he gets to do is experience the level of competition here at the NHL."
That's an experience that has already been pretty special for the 20-year-old from Livonia, Mich.
"It's awesome, the last few days have been a whirlwind," Krug said. "A couple days ago I was sitting in my house in East Lansing getting ready to study for a test, and now here I am sitting in a locker room full of NHLers. It's been a great past couple of days and I’m looking forward to the next couple weeks."
Krug went undrafted largely because of his lack of size at 5-foot-9, 180 pounds, but his production at Michigan State (12-22-34 totals in 38 games this season as a junior) brought plenty of suitors for his skills, with the Bruins’ recent success as reigning Cup champs helping Boston win the bidding war.
"My whole life I've been told I was too small, and I think that’s one of the reasons I wasn't drafted," Krug said. "But not being drafted is a blessing in disguise. There's few times in pro sports where guys get to pick where they want to play. I had that opportunity, and here I am in Boston.
"The one thing it kept coming down to is that I want to be part of a winning organization," Krug added. "And that’s what the Bruins have here."
The Bruins' success also makes it more challenging for Krug to crack the lineup right away, but he understands the situation.
"Right now I'm just trying to get my feet wet, get a little bit of experience," Krug said. "At the same time I hope I can push the guys in practice and do whatever I can do to help the team win."
That process began Tuesday with Krug meeting with Julien, then joining the club for the morning skate.
"I really wanted him to kind of experience the whole day of preparation on game day," Julien said. "He came in early this morning, I had a real good chat with him and he's a real good individual. You can tell right away. The rest of his pedigree explains a lot. A team captain, and how he's produced and played in the collegiate ranks. Today he came into our PK meetings, PP meetings, got an opportunity to skate with the team and see how things are done here."
Krug, who said he patterns his game after fellow Michigan State product and current Toronto defenseman John-Michael Liles, hopes to contribute in all those areas at some point.
"I like to think I'm a dynamic skater," Krug said. "I can definitely play both sides of the puck. A lot of guys see me as a smaller defenseman and think I'm just an offensive defenseman, but I like to take care of the D zone and I take a lot of pride in making that first pass out of the zone."
Krug did find one area where his lack of height is definitely a disadvantage in the pro ranks, as he struggled to get used to the stalls in the Bruins locker room that have been built on a scale more suited for the likes of 6-foot-9 captain Zdeno Chara.
"I don't know if they built these lockers for him, but I can barely reach my helmet on top," Krug said.
Photo via Twitter/TKrug44