BOSTON — It’s not unusual for a college-aged kid to pack up his belongings and head home for the summer, which is exactly what Charlie McAvoy did Tuesday at Bruins break-up day.
But he still has to swing by Boston University and clear out his dorm, too.
It’s been a whirlwind year for the Bruins rookie, who made his NHL debut in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup playoffs just about a month after completing his college hockey career at BU. With the Bruins’ overtime loss in Game 6 of the playoffs Sunday, McAvoy’s hockey season — which started with the Terriers in the fall and included a gold medal at the world junior hockey championships — probably ended. (He’s open to the idea of playing for Team USA at the world championships if they’re interested.)
Unlike most 19-year-olds, McAvoy won’t spend the next few months working a summer job. He’ll instead take some time to rest, reflect on a crazy year and get prepared both mentally and physically for his first NHL season.
“You get a feel for it and there’s nothing like it,” McAvoy gushed about his experience Tuesday. “I’m still kind of feeling the loss and definitely not over it — I wish we were still playing — but there were so many positives you can take from it. Being able to come in and build a relationship with these guys is special and going into next year, I’ll have that good foundation.”
McAvoy did plenty on his own to help build that foundation, too. He’s a first-round talent and his skills were apparent to anyone who had watched him play either in college, on the international level or in his brief stay at Providence after BU’s season ended. But it’s hard for anyone to say they could have seen this coming from McAvoy, who was one of the Bruins’ best players throughout their playoff series with the Ottawa Senators.
The Bruins threw McAvoy into the fire, and he not only survived. He flourished. Of all the players on both the Bruins and Senators, only Boston’s Zdeno Chara and Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson — who have three Norris Trophies between them — played more than McAvoy. The youngster averaged 26 minutes and 12 seconds of ice time per game and contributed on the offensive end with three assists. There were occasional lapses in his own end, but he certainly held his own in front of the Boston net, especially for a D-man with an offensive-minded game getting his first taste of the NHL game.
“I kind of had a quiet confidence in myself, but before you experience something like that, you really don’t know how you’re going to fare,” McAvoy said. “I think it was a credit to my teammates. If you’re going to play with someone like Zdeno Chara, he puts you in a position every shift you’re out there to look good and be successful. I was out there with a lot of great players playing hockey and they made that transition as seamless as possible for myself and I’m very thankful to have that opportunity. ”
McAvoy admitted Tuesday that while him and his teammates would rather still be playing, the break might be a blessing in disguise, especially after such a frantic season. But there is work to be done. The blueliner said he’ll spend at least part of his summer in Boston, taking courses at BU (he’s a communications major) and doing his offseason hockey work in a familiar place.
McAvoy got a brief intro to life in the NHL, but he already craves more. And after his impressive debut, he’s ready to start taking the next steps in his career.
“I think there’s a lot I can learn and a lot I can grow in,” he said. “I’ve had just a small sample size of experience, but I still feel like I can have an impact on this team — a big impact — and it’s something I’m going to have to work on in the offseason to put myself in the best position to have immediate success, and it’s something I’m committed to.”
Thumbnail photo via Marc DesRosiers/USA TODAY Sports Images