BOSTON — Just about every kid who ever laced up skates while growing up in Massachusetts has dreamed of one day playing for the Bruins.
At one point, that was a realistic goal for the top talent the state produced. As recently as the 2005-06 season, the Bruins had eight Bay State natives play for them, not to mention a coach (Mike Sullivan), general manager (Mike O'Connell) and assistant GM (Jeff Gorton) all from Massachusetts.
But since Peter Chiarelli took over in 2006, there have been just two players — defensemen Paul Mara and Bobby Allen –- from Massachusetts to play for the Bruins, with Allen the last Bay Stater to play before the home folks when he dressed for 18 games in 2007-08.
The last four seasons have gone without any home-grown talent, though the Boston fans didn’t have much reason to get upset as the club made it out of the first round in each of the last three seasons –something done just once in the previous 13 years — and won the franchise's first Cup in 39 years last spring.
But Boston fans might soon get the best of both worlds. The Bruins remain in first place in the Northeast Division, and on Monday night called up Josh Hennessy, a forward from Rockland, Mass., from their AHL affiliate in Providence.
"This is why I play, this is why I've played forever," Hennessy said after participating in the Bruins optional skate Tuesday morning at the Garden. "So I'm not going to act like I'm on vacation and enjoy it. I'm going to try to make an impression in any way possible and help this organization in any capacity. I'm absolutely honored and thrilled to be here."
Hennessy, 27, doesn't know when, or even if, he’ll get into the Bruins lineup, but it's obvious the chance to play for his hometown team has drawn a little interest.
"I had about 6,000 text messages [Monday] night," Hennessy said. "So I just sent a mass reply, 'Guys, I don't know if I'm playing.' I probably should take a peek at my phone right now."
It could be a mixed blessing for Hennessy if he does get the news he's in the lineup. Providing tickets for his friends and family could cost him more than the increase in salary he got with his promotion to the big club.
"I have to do the math, figure out if I'm actually going to make any more money up here or if I'm going to spend the rest on tickets," Hennessy joked.
Hennessy has already made his NHL debut, playing 20 games for Ottawa split over four seasons from 2006-10. He played against the Bruins twice, but never in Boston. And after spending last year playing in Switzerland and suffering a serious knee injury, Hennessy thought that chance might never come.
"If you told me a year ago when I was in a hospital bed in Europe with a knee injury that I would be here, I would have thought you were lying or messing with me," Hennessy said. "It's pretty special."
Hennessy enjoyed his time in Europe and was considering a return to Switzerland. That was before the Bruins called during the summer.
"It was pretty easy when the Bruins called," Hennessy said. "That was pretty much a done deal. I was on the fence [about going back to Europe] and I talked to them once free agency started and there really was no hesitation in my mind [when the Bruins offered a deal]. I probably would have been disowned by my family if I didn't take this opportunity."
Hennessy was second on Providence with 15-15-30 totals in 49 games at the time of his recall, but feels it’s the other parts of his game that have improved since his last stint in the NHL with the Senators.
"I think I'm more mature and more responsible defensively," Hennessy said. "I can probably fit into a couple of different roles. I might have been more one-dimensional then."
Bruins coach Claude Julien still expects Hennessy to help out offensively if he gets the chance to play in Boston.
"We knew when we got him he was a pretty good player," Julien said. "I saw him play junior hockey when he went to play in the Quebec League. [He's] a skill player. I think he's done a pretty good job in Providence as far as scoring is concerned. They're a lot like us, they spread their scoring around, but he’s one of the top guys on that team and he’s got some experience at the NHL level. So with this big road trip coming up, it's probably a good thing to bring some extra guys along."
As for his plans to use Hennessy, Julien was noncommittal.
"We’ll see," Julien said. "Again, that would depend on the play of some of our players and obviously the injury status and everything else. I think there's a lot of reasons for him to get a chance to play and if I didn't think he would I don’t think we'd bother bringing him, so there could be a possibility."
That’s enough to give Hennessy some hope of ending the club’s drought of home-grown talent, and maybe even doing it Tuesday on home ice, as expensive as that prospect may be for Hennessy.
"I've never actually played here at the Garden," Hennessy said. "So I'm keeping my fingers crossed."
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