FOXBORO, Mass. — The NHL Winter Classic is marketed as a game that takes players back to their roots. This year’s edition had the same effect on New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski.
With the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens taking the ice Thursday at Gillette Stadium in preparation for their outdoor matchup on New Year’s Day, Gronkowski took the opportunity to reflect on his own experiences playing hockey as a kid in Buffalo.
“I was super aggressive,” he told reporters. “Fights, goal scores, checks.”
The four-time Pro Bowl tight end hung up his skates after ninth grade to focus his offseason efforts on basketball, but he said he still laces them back up from time to time.
“I’m all right now whenever I go back and play with my friends back home,” Gronkowski told reporters. “I used to play with all the top dogs growing up in Buffalo. But I don’t got those skills, really.”
His 6-foot-6, 265-pound frame would make Gronk an imposing presence on any blue line, but he doesn’t envision himself as a defenseman.
“No, I’d be a left wing,” he told reporters. “Defense is cool, but I need the action. So, left wing.”
Gronkowski said Patriots practice likely will prevent him from watching the Winter Classic, which is set for 1 p.m. ET Friday, but he did swing by the Bruins’ skate Thursday and even threw on one of the team’s sweaters.
Gronk later tweeted some smack to Patriots teammate Rob Ninkovich, who wanted to join the fun.
The Patriots will visit the Miami Dolphins this Sunday to close out their regular-season schedule.
Thumbnail photo via Twitter/@Trags