Benoit Pouliot Determined to Take Advantage of Fresh Start in Boston After Struggles in Montreal and Minnesota


Sep 16, 2011

BOSTON — Benoit Pouliot is not hiding from his past failures.

The new Bruins winger knows he hasn't lived up to expectations since being selected fourth overall by Minnesota in the 2005 draft. He knows he's getting an opportunity to turn things around this season in Boston, and that there may not be many more chances after this. There certainly won't be opportunities in better circumstances than this, as Pouliot gets to join the reigning Stanley Cup champions after agreeing to a one-year, $1.1-million deal as free agent this summer.

"Boston won the Cup last year, I'm more than excited to be here with them," Pouliot said Friday after veterans reported to training camp. "I just want to fit in on the team. I don't want to mess up any chemistry. I just want to jump in here and help the team out a much as I can. If they give me a chance to do that, I'll try not to mess it up and just be good every night."

That consistency has been the biggest thing lacking in Pouliot's game. He's shown flashes of brilliance, glimpses of the offensive skill that made him such a high draft pick and even a willingness to put his 6-foot-3, 203-pound frame to better use at times in Montreal. Now it's a matter of putting that all together on a regular basis.

"This is second, maybe even his third chance if you consider he started off in Minny," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "It's an opportunity for him to maybe fit into our hockey club. When we made that decision [to sign him] we felt he had a lot of things going for him that would blend in well with our hockey club. His skill level is a high skill level. He has some good size. We felt that last year even in Montreal he was one of the guys that was the most physical on their hockey club. I think he was third on their team in hits. So having the surrounding of the rest of our team, we feel he's going to be a good fit."

Despite a strong start in Montreal, Pouliot never quite fit in Canadiens coach Jacques Martin's system. Pouliot scored 15 goals in just 39 games after being acquired from Minnesota during the 2009-10 season, but last year saw his ice time reduced and managed just 13 goals in 79 games. He was a healthy scratch for the final four games of Montreal's opening-round loss to Boston in the playoffs, and not tendered a qualifying offer after the season.

"It was pretty bad," Pouliot said. "In February in March I felt [Martin] was lacking in a little patience, a little confidence in me. At the same time, I learned a few things. I played third and fourth line all year, sometimes I had my minutes and sometimes I didn't. It's just a thing to adjust to, and now I can say I can play a checking line too, or like when I showed up in Montreal I played second line. It helped my game out in a way, so it's good."

Pouliot, who has just 37-35-72 totals in 183 career games in the NHL, believes he can apply what he learned in Montreal to be a better all-around player in Boston. He's also heard nothing but good things about Julien from his new teammates and is confident he can thrive under his coaching. More importantly, Pouliot believes he can earn Julien's confidence.

"If I get the chance to show what I can do, if I do it on a regular basis, I'm pretty sure that things are going to go well," Pouliot said. "Claude is going to have confidence in me and trust in me, and that's all I want is the coach to let me play, let me do my thing and for him to trust me as much as he can and put me out there."

And how does Pouliot earn that trust from Julien?

"It's just working," Pouliot said. "I think when I was younger maybe I was relying more on just my talent. But when you get to the NHL you have to have more work than talent to stay up here and play every night.

"When I showed up in Montreal I was scoring right away and things went so well," Pouliot added. "Now I just have to do the same thing when I show up here, but not only at the beginning of the year but the full year."

Pouliot is off to a good start. After an offseason training regime that he described as "the toughest summer of my life," Pouliot has added a few pounds of muscle and enters the season at the heaviest playing weight of his career.

"That's good, I wanted to get bigger," said Pouliot, who played at 197 pounds last season.

Now it's just a matter of proving that bigger really is better. Pouliot has been given a chance for a fresh start in Boston, but he won't be given anything else. For here on in, everything he gets will have to be earned.

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