BOSTON (CBS) — The Boston Bruins traded former No.2-overall pick Tyler Seguin to the Dallas Stars in 2013, and the reasons for it were well-documented. As a young, up-and-coming offensive dynamo, Seguin struggled with his defensive play on the ice and professionalism off it.
Two years later, Seguin wrote an op-ed declaring that the Bruins gave up on him too early. While he won’t definitively prove that until he wins another Stanley Cup as the leader of a franchise, he appears to be maturing as a player and professional.
In an interview Wednesday on TSN Radio, Seguin commented on the Bruins trade and the media scrutiny surrounding him at the time.
“I think the real tough thing was being able to keep my mouth shut…That was real difficult after the trade happened, seeing all the things that were going on,” he said. “I had radio stations and newspapers where people were asking me if I wanted to post an article just saying my story. Seeing all the ‘Behind the B’ stuff and that footage, it was tough.”
Seguin hasn’t done much to change the general perception of him as immature. He partied at the Playboy Mansion and hobnobbed with other star athletes all offseason, which is totally fine and understandable for a young pro athlete to do – as long as it doesn’t affect his play (see: Rob Gronkowski).
On the Bruins trade, Seguin added: “I used it more as motivation and just said, ‘I’ll use my words on the ice.'”
Seguin feels he has already proven the Bruins wrong with his improved scoring in Dallas: he has scored 74 goals and 161 points in 151 games with the Stars.
But everyone already knew he could fill up a stat sheet – he potted 29 goals with the Bruins in Claude Julien’s system as a 20-year-old with limited minutes. The real on-ice question with Seguin is: can he improve his play in the other two zones? He told TSN that improving his defense is the top priority for him entering the 2015-16 season.
Referring to linemate and reigning Art Ross Trophy winner Jamie Benn, Seguin said: “We both know we can put up points and goals…we both need to grow in our own end.
“We’ve never been able to start the year playing good defensively, so that’s going to start in camp with our attitude and how we approach the game mentally, and I’m looking forward to that.”
Seguin also said he and Benn are joking back and forth about who’s going to win the Selke Trophy. What a silly question…everyone knows it’s Patrice Bergeron.
Seguin’s sharpened focus on his defensive play indicates he is starting to realize what it really takes to be a great player in the NHL. You can lead the league in goals every year, but if you don’t play a well-rounded game you will lose in the playoffs to teams and players that do. Looking at you, Ovechkin.
With 3 points in 6 playoff games and a 2-4 postseason record in Dallas, Seguin still has plenty to prove in that part of the season. Even if he does play a better all-around game this upcoming season, can he be a championship-caliber player? Can he not disappear, but elevate his game when it matters the most? Essentially, does he get it?
He said his time as a Bruin was valuable experience to build upon as a pro.
“It was awesome because I got to see what it’s like to be on a winning organization and team,” he said, “and seeing all the details of what it takes to be a Stanley Cup champion and be a part of that type of group.”
He also praised the Stars’ newly acquired Patrick Sharp, his “winning attitude”, and that he “knows how to play at both ends of the ice.”
Clearly, Seguin looks to improve to the point of playing at a championship level, which means to be elite in all three zones, not just one. Among the sports superstars he met were Kobe Bryant and Derek Jeter, two guys who have won a little bit in their careers.
He called the Bruins trade a wake-up call that invited introspection.
“You just kind of dissect your game and dissect yourself as a pro and make adjustments,” he said. “I think for me that’s what I did and I’ve moved on and I’m loving life in Dallas.”
Ironically, the Bruins’ impatience with Seguin’s maturity might have accelerated the process.
As promising as Seguin’s comments sound for the Stars, talk is cheap. He still needs to ‘use his words on the ice’, as he put it. But the greatest fear of Bruins fans in the Seguin trade – that the team gave up too early on a young, talented player – might be coming true.
Is the gap between Seguin’s personal and professional lives widening? Is he blossoming into a great all-around player who knows what it takes to win? Is he going to prove that the Bruins gave up on him too early, on the ice? Those things may still happen.
But until Seguin raises the Cup over his head in a Stars uniform, he hasn’t proven anything.