Joe Colborne knows exactly what Tyler Seguin is going through right about now. The 20-year-old center was selected by the Bruins in the first round (16th overall) of the 2008 draft after finishing second in AJHL scoring with 90 points. Ever since, he's spent just as much time under the microscope as anybody.
Colborne, who has spent the past two seasons at the University of Denver, knows what happens when you're in Seguin's position. Such is the plight that accompanies any first-round NHL draft pick.
"I feel for what he's been going through," Colborne said at development camp this week. "I'm sure he'll get it a lot more than I do, but just talking to him the last few days, he's really grounded."
Because Colborne knows what Seguin is going through — understanding the debilitating pressure that often faces first-round draft picks — he knows how to prevent it from interfering. Back when he first got drafted, he would have liked to have someone around who had been through the same thing, who knew how to combat the pressure and stay focused on the prize.
"I've tried to take on more of a leadership role, get in touch with guys who just got drafted and give them a heads-up because when I came in, I was a little bit under-the-microscope, and I didn't know what to expect," Colborne said.
That's why Colborne has taken it upon himself to become an ambassador of sorts to the other up-and-coming first-rounders in the Bruins organization. After the draft, Colborne asked assistant GM Don Sweeney for phone numbers of his new comrades and peppered them with words of encouragement.
"That's music to all of our ears, to be honest with you," Sweeney said. "Joe asked me for a couple of guys' numbers, and I was quick to shoot them out to him because I love that initiative on all of our players."
Of course, Colborne has more on his mind than acting as the student body president of the Bruins. Scouts often contend that Colborne would be better served to use his 6-foot-5 frame to his advantage and that he has a ways to go in terms of physical grit.
Colborne is aware of the criticism, and as he enters his third development camp, he knows exactly what he must do to impress the naysayers.
"Talking with [conditioning coach John] Whitesides and the guys, I really wanted to improve upon my explosiveness, and my vertical jump," Colborne said. "I feel like the quickness is kind of coming, and I feel like I seem more comfortable in my body and I'm finally starting to grow into this frame."
This April, Colborne signed with Boston and will play in Providence next season. It will be yet another test for the center, who is accustomed to the collegiate, run-and-gun style of play. After getting a brief taste of the P-Bruins last spring, he admitted that things in the professional ranks are far more structured, but it's an adjustment he is eager to make.
Though Sweeney has faith in Colborne's ability to adapt, he knows it's going to take work and unwavering energy.
"This will be a significant challenge for him," Sweeney said. "He's got a real nice foundation and a base going, and he'll continue to get better as he matures, but now we're going to put an 80-game schedule on his dinner plate and see how he handles that. That'll be a good challenge."
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