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BOSTON (CBS) – While there are questions about whether Johnny Boychuk can rebound from an off-year in 2010-11 and re-establish himself as a regular top-four contributor for the Boston Bruins, there’s no doubt about the amount of compassion in the defensemen’s heart.
For one, Boychuk sympathizes with some of the younger defensemen who are trying to make an impression in Bruins camp. While guys like Steven Kampfer, Matt Bartkowski and Colby Cohen are trying to push him out of a job, he’s still willing to offer advice and guidance.
“I was in that spot for quite a while,” said Boychuk over the weekend as the Bruins continued their training camp. “And if they ever ask you anything, you’ve been in that situation. You can tell them things that you could do and what to expect and just to stay positive.”
“Not too much,” Boychuk continued when asked if younger guys have been seeking him out during camp. “But if I see that something’s happening, like I noticed that I was in that situation, I would go up to him and say something that I did or just something to help him out.”
Boychuk’s compassion goes beyond the walls of the Bruins dressing room, as it was recently revealed he texted well wishes to Vancouver forward Mason Raymond in late July. Raymond suffered a broken vertebra in an awkward collision with Boychuk and the TD Garden boards in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final. Raymond is recovering and is hopeful he’ll be able to resume his playing career by midseason.
“I just wanted to make sure to send him a message just basically saying that I didn’t mean to and I hope he gets better,” said Boychuk, who noted he waited several weeks because he wanted to make sure the message would arrive without distraction. “Obviously you’d never want to see anybody get hurt like that at all. It’s one thing to maybe like break a finger. That’s like a minor thing. But to see a guy break his back, even in the Stanley Cup finals, I’d never, ever want that upon anyone because it does mean a lot. If somebody did that to me, it would crush me and you’d never want to do something like that to somebody. But it was unintentional. I just wanted to send him a message saying sorry, I hope he gets better.”
View: Bruins 2011-12 Schedule
Now Boychuk’s focus is locked in on his play and that of his team. The Bruins need less compassion from him and more of those open-ice hits and rocket-fast slap shots that he became famous for during his rookie season. In 51 games as a rookie in 2009-10 he recorded 15 points. While he played in 18 more games last season than the prior year, he produced just 16 points. Boychuk’s 2010-11 season was so uneven, he actually found himself out of the lineup as a healthy scratch on a couple of occasions.
Luckily for the Bruins, he emerged as a top-four regular and produced nine points (three goals) during the Cup run.
View: 2011-12 Bruins Roster
Now in the second year of a two-year deal with unrestricted free agency again looming next summer, Boychuk, who scored a goal in the Bruins’ preseason win Friday night, knows where he wants to play. He just has to give the Bruins a reason to want to retain his services even with so much talent rising up through the ranks.
“Well, I [think about it] but it’s always going to happen. I’ve been in this situation before a couple of times,” he said. “I want to stay here so I’ve got to show why [they should keep me].”
Matt Kalman covers the Bruins for CBSBoston.com. He operates TheBruinsBlog.net and also contributes coverage to NHL.com and several other media outlets.