Boyes Off to Fast Start with Blues
Brad Boyes is happy as a clam right now.
The former Toronto Maple Leafs first-round draft pick is playing on a line with Paul Kariya and Keith Tkachuk, he's on the first power-play unit, he's got six points (4-2) in five games, the Blues are off to a 4-1-0 start, he bought a house and loves the city of St. Louis.
What else can a guy ask for?
"Things are going well," the 25-year-old forward told The Canadian Press on Friday.
That wasn't the case last season in Boston. After putting up 69 points (26 goals, 43 assists) in 82 games in his rookie NHL campaign with the Bruins in 2005-06, Boyes went through a difficult 2006-07 season. New head coach, different linemates, and the team overall struggled. It all amounted to a tough time.
"I was excited going into the season, we added some big players like (Marc) Savard and (Zdeno) Chara," said Boyes. "But as a team, we didn't gel.
"We didn't play real well. I think our first game we lost like 8-2 or something like that (8-3 at Florida)."
Boyes also wasn't back on a line with Patrice Bergeron and Marco Sturm, a combination that worked so well in 2005-06. Boyes still put up 34 points (13-21) in 62 games with the Bruins but had one tough stretch that tested his confidence.
"I went into this big lull through January - I think I had one goal in 20 games - and that was tough," he said. "I was put down to the fourth line and not playing a lot.
"I was trying to figure out what was going on. Everything goes through your head. That was tough to deal with but at the same time it was good to go through it because you learn how to deal with it."
He was dealt at the Feb. 27 trade deadline to St. Louis for defenceman Dennis Wideman. The move paid immediate dividends as he put up 12 points (4-8) in 19 games before the season ended.
"Just right away when I got here last year, Andy Murray gave me that confidence," he said of the Blues head coach. "I was given an opportunity right away.
"It's been great. It's all about getting the chance."
The Blues haven't been disappointed.
"He and Paul Kariya have meshed," Blues president John Davidson said Friday. "They played an exhibition game together in Dallas and were very good. And that's when we saw a little bit of the chemistry that you look for.
"Walt (Tkachuk) has been the centre and geez, they've been good," added Davidson. "Brad has fantastic hands. He's a little bit better a skater than people give him credit for. He's in great shape and Andy has him competing. It's all paying off."
Playing with Kariya and Tkachuk has been a dream assignment.
"Everyone knows the history of those guys and their stats, the experience they bring," said Boyes. "That's cool for me to join them. They've got 2,000 games between them and I've got 100. It's kind of funny.
"Those guys help me a lot," Boyes added. "But at the same time, I have to go out there and produce, I have to earn my role. I'm trying to consistently to do that."
He's already in his fourth NHL organization but hopes to have found a home. Boyes now realizes why players end up retiring in St. Louis.
"That's the one thing I've heard is how much guys love it here," said Boyes, a restricted free agent at season's end. "Tkachuk came back here, Dougie Weight came back here, they have 40 or so alumni. Living here has been awesome. I really do enjoy it. ...
"The Blues are picking it up as well, the buzz around the city has been real good."