Big step up for McAvoy
PROVIDENCE — After his first practice as a professional hockey player, Charlie McAvoy had the look of someone just worried about getting his bearings straight.
After all, he was just a week removed from playing in the NCAA tournament with Boston University, and a little less than three months past his gold medal-winning performance with Team USA at the World Junior Ice Hockey Championships.
In other words, after signing an amateur tryout contract with the Providence Bruins, the defenseman wants to make sure this next huge step in his career goes smoothly.
“Just acclimating myself as well as I can,” the 6-foot-1, 211-pounder said of his goals in his first few days as a pro. “There’s a great group of veteran guys here along with some young guys who have a lot of experience, obviously. I’m looking to be a sponge and pull as much information from those guys as I can and just get used to the pro game. I think that the guys here will definitely help me do that. Everyone throughout the organization has been very supporting of me, so I have a good feeling that this is the best place for me right now.”
According to coach Kevin Dean, McAvoy’s Providence debut will likely occur tomorrow at home against the Hartford Wolf Pack. Dean also said he will pair McAvoy with 27-year-old Tommy Cross in order to give him a veteran to learn from.
Dean admitted he had not seen a ton of McAvoy in college, but offered an NHL comparison that has been thrown around at this early stage.
“I heard there’s a little (Kings defenseman) Drew Doughty in him, but there’s a little more physicality in his game from what I understand,” Dean said. “So I don’t know. I just know he looks like a thoroughbred. I heard he skates like the wind. So, yeah, we’re going to try and encourage him to do those things and then chip away and rein in the stuff that might get him in trouble. Maybe it doesn’t. I don’t know. We’ll have to see.”
For now, McAvoy simply seems happy to be making this transition. Despite the infamous tweet from 2013 when the Long Beach, N.Y., native and Rangers fan said he hated the Bruins “so much,” McAvoy appeared delighted to be in the organization.
“Special. Very special,” he said of what it will be like when he suits up for a game. “Since last June when I was fortunate enough to get drafted here you immediately become a Bruins fan and amongst that is a Providence Bruin. I’m very excited to be here, and I’m going to have a lot of pride when I put my game jersey on for that first time.”
And even though McAvoy will likely take some time to get used to the pro game, Dean does not want him to hold back.
“For me, I would hope that sooner than later he’s going to understand that, ‘Yeah, I can keep up and I can really make a difference,’ ” Dean said. “I think when a player has a mindset he can make a difference, that’s how he grows more quickly.”