SCOC caught up with Boston Bruins defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk this week at practice and talked about why he loves the city, adjusting to the Bruins’ offensive game, being a veteran presence with the defense and highlights from the first third of the season.
(Keep reading for a little Christmas fun with the defenseman at the end!)
Shattenkirk, who played at Boston University, said he was excited to return to the city – but as a Bruin this time around.
He had a great time experiencing the city during college from 2007 to 2010, but it’s different as a 20-something-year-old versus being a professional athlete with a young family over a decade later.
“One thing I remembered and cherished most about Boston was the people and how loyal they are to their city and sports teams,” he said. “I was excited for my family to come and see that.
He saw early on the respect Bruins’ fans had for their team and the storied history which came with wearing the Spoked B sweater every night.
“It was going to be a much different experience playing for the Bruins,” Shattenkirk said. “I know in college how revered those guys were. To be playing for an Original Six team, there’s a lot of tradition and history there. On top of that, the excitement of joining a great hockey team, has been everything and more so far.”
His family has adjusted to the move from Anaheim to Boston. Although, he said his kids still ask when they’ll go to Disneyland next.
“They were getting so used to going to Disney,” Shattenkirk said with a laugh. “It was like going to the park down the street. My son mentioned it the other day, but I think the excitement of living in the city is pretty cool to them.”
In Anaheim, Shattenkirk said being an offensive-minded defenseman took a back seat for a bit while he was there for three seasons. Prior to his time with the Ducks, he had five 40+ point seasons in his time with the St. Louis Blues.
“The last three years in Anaheim, it’s something I’ve gotten away from because we were defending more,” Shattenkirk said. “But you get on a team like this and you have a lot of great offensive players and a system that pushes everyone to play that way.”
“It makes you think more aggressively on the offensive side of things,” he added. “It’s been great for me.”
Shattenkirk scored his first as a Bruin against the Toronto Maple Leafs on the road. It’s a moment which has stood out to him through the first third of the season to get “the monkey of my back,” he said.
Both of his goals have come from feeds from David Pastrnak, including one power-play goal.
He finds his offensive game is coming along now, but admits to being a little timid with his offensive game with the Bruins as Head Coach Jim Montgomery’s system looks for the defense to play an active role in the offensive zone.
“I was a little slow getting acclimated to it and a little tentative, but Monty reinforced that he wanted me to be more assertive out there, especially offensively,” Shattenkirk said “I just kind of let my brain work and trusted it to not be afraid to maybe make a mistake and get caught.”
“The balance of that has been great,” he said. “It’s something I reiterate every day. We want to score goals and offensively defend, but score more than we let in. We are consistently working at it and that reinforces it for you as a player.”
The Bruins defense has seen some players in and out of the lineup, whether due to injury or being sent down or called up from Providence.
For Shattenkirk who was signed this season to add depth to the blue line, he’s found himself providing a veteran presence for a defensive core dealing with some injuries and young players finding their games.
He’s helped Mason Lohrei, who’s getting his second stint this season with the team and watching as he gets valuable playing time to grow his game. Shattenkirk said he’s been there for the young defenseman, and now also Parker Wotherspoon who’s getting a shot because of injuries.
“That’s for me how I was brought up,” Shattenkirk said. “The older guys that I played with always made sure their game was air tight so that when you did speak to one of the younger guys and tell them something, you felt confident that you were coming from a good place and you respected it.”
“We have great young guys here,” he said. “Mason (Lohrei) goes out of his way to ask questions. As a group, we created that culture.”
“Again, it’s partially letting in and learning on his own, knowing when to step in and when to back off,” Shattenkirk said. “I’ve had to do that now for a few years and learning the balance. The most important thing is learning how to be patient and realize there are going to be some growing pains he’s (Lohrei) going to have to work through. You can’t get frustrated as a player.”
The defense has Charlie McAvoy back now from injury. Derek Forbort is still out on long-term injury reserve and Matt Grzelcyk was injured Tuesday against the Minnesota Wild.
Shattenkirk felt the Bruins’ culture has a lot to do with how the team has been able to adjust with different pairings and handling injuries. He’s watched guys step up on the power play and penalty kill when assets like McAvoy – and still Forbort – were out. He’s seen everyone play their part to fill holes.
“There are constantly guys coming into the lineup that are capable of doing those jobs,” Shattenkirk said. “Everyone enjoys that challenge when a guy goes down and they know they are going to have to step up and play. Everyone supports them and know they are put in the best position to succeed. It’s a seamless transition when guys come back in.”
Shattenkirk is averaging the least amount of time on ice that he has seen in his career, but he knows his role on the Bruins and what he was brought in to do.
He said the Boston community has made his transition to the Bruins in his 14th year an easy one.
“The community around here, the tradition that they’ve held, everyone is so entrenched in it, respects it and takes a lot of pride in it,” Shattenkirk said. “As a new guy coming in, you are embraced by them and that’s a comforting feeling knowing you have this tremendous community around you.”
The defenseman said being a part of the Bruins’ Centennial year has been an experience in itself for him this year. He’s gotten to interact with some of the most iconic NHL players of all time because of it and doesn’t take that for granted. He highlighted getting to rub elbows with Bobby Orr, Ray Bourque and Brad Park during the different Era Nights.
With Christmas around the corner, Shattenkirk also dished on his favorite and least favorite Christmas song.
“Please Come home for Christmas” by The Eagles
“I’m a big Eagles fan so that’s one of my favorites, but a close second is “Blue Christmas” by Elvis,” Shattenkirk said.
“Dominick the Donkey” by Lou Monte
Do you agree or disagree with his choices?