Charlie McAvoy made a smooth transition from Boston University to the Stanley Cup Playoffs in 2018, and since then he has quickly became one of the Boston Bruins' best players.
McAvoy is one of the top five to seven defensemen in the NHL, one who has twice finished top five in Norris Trophy voting. He tallied 52 points (seven goals, 45 assists) in just 64 games last season, while setting a career-high with 1.49 points per 60 minutes at 5-on-5.
The 26-year-old star plays in all situations, defends at a high level, logs a ton of minutes and contributes to both special teams units. He's the type of No. 1 defenseman all teams covet.
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While McAvoy's on-ice performance has received most of the attention during his career, he also has taken great strides as a leader. And with the Bruins losing a lot of leaders in recent offseasons -- most notably Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci -- McAvoy has an opportunity to step up even more in that area of the game.
“I think it starts with Charlie on the ice and his presence and what he commands in all situations when he first arrived to the NHL and not really being afraid of any moment," Bruins general manager Don Sweeney said Monday at a Media Day press conference. "Now you're starting to see that translate off the ice and in the locker room and in leadership roles that he can speak about."
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A lot of the Bruins' greatest leaders have been on the blue line, players such as Ray Bourque, Bobby Orr, Chara, etc. McAvoy has a ways to go before joining that group, but he's certainly on the right track.
"We talk about leadership, it's something you can't really force," Bruins president Cam Neely said Monday. "You can't hope that someone's going to be a leader because maybe they're one of your better players, someone has to kind of come up and emerge and show you that they want to be a leader, but show you because of what they're doing both on and off the ice. And Charlie is certainly doing that."
Being able to witness and play with so many great leaders during his Bruins tenure has helped prepare McAvoy for his increased leadership role going into the season. What has he taken away from those players?
"A lot. They've all done it in different ways," McAvoy said after Monday's practice. "That's probably the biggest thing. No one size fits all being a leader. You've seen (Chara) have a certain style, Krejci have a different style, David Backes have a different style, Foligno, Bergeron obviously. All of these people do it in different ways. You have to do it organically and be who you are everyday.
"I'm getting older, trying to realize who I am and who I want to be, really. I think that might be the biggest thing I've taken from those guys -- the stuff I've loved the most about them, that everybody does. They're all gentlemen. They're all good guys. They treat everybody the same way. Those are probably the biggest things I want to take from them and carry forward."
McAvoy will wear an "A" on his jersey this season along with David Pastrnak as the alternate captains. Brad Marchand was named the new captain following Bergeron's retirement. Plenty of other players who won't have a letter on their jerseys will also be part of the collective leadership effort we'll see from the Bruins this season.
(Marchand) has been part of that core for a while. You've seen Charlie and (David Pastrnak) start to get exposed to that, but now it's their team, that's exciting for them," Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery said Monday.
"They've learned under great players and leaders. I think there's other players to support them now, whether that's (Hampus) Lindholm and (Brandon) Carlo on the back end, and you have up front (Charlie) Coyle, (Pavel) Zacha, those kinds of players who are ready to be. This is their team now. I think you're going to start seeing that excitement come out Wednesday night.”