BOSTON — Steve Montador‘s stay in Boston was brief, but it certainly made an impact on the veteran defenseman.
Montador, 30, played just 13 games with the Bruins at the end of the 2008-09 season, plus 11 more playoff contests after he was acquired from Anaheim for Petteri Nokelainen at the trade deadline.
“All of the players made me feel really welcome,” said Montador after Tuesday’s morning skate. “I knew a couple of the guys already and that helped, but the organization really treated us great.”
Montador was particularly impressed by the passion of the Boston sports fans during his stint as a Bruin.
“It seems this is as good a sports town as you’ll find in North America,” said Montador. “The Bruins are a part of this city. The Celtics are a part of this city. Obviously the Red Sox are, and watching last night, there’s no doubt the Patriots are too. It was just an easy place to come because there’s a pride about this city and especially with their sports teams. And when you’re a part of one of them, it’s really special.”
Montador left Boston after the 2008-09 season, but he stayed in the Northeast Division as he signed a two-year, $3.1-million deal with Buffalo on the first day of free agency that summer.
“The best thing about our division is I think we have the best collection of five buildings to play in,” said Montador. “They’re always sold out. They’re always cheering. And there’s a different flavor to each and every one of them.”
Montador had just one assist and 18 penalty minutes in his 13 regular-season games with Boston, though he did add 1-2-3 totals and another 18 PIMs in the playoffs. But his game has truly blossomed in Buffalo.
Last year he matched a career high with 23 points in 78 games, and this year he’s on pace to shatter that mark. Montador is sixth on the Sabres with 11 points through 27 games, putting him on pace for 33 points in a full season.
Even more impressive is the fact that he’s second in the NHL with a plus-16 rating. And that’s on a team that’s been outscored 73-65 this season and has no one else on the roster better than a plus-5, while nine Sabres are a minus.
“I know I’m getting a good opportunity to play here,” said Montador. “I’ve always felt that I could contribute in all situations and all areas of the game. So I’ve just been put in circumstances where things have clicked here.”