The Boston Bruins have brought a few hometown players into their lineup over recent years. As Charlie Coyle makes his way back to Boston to play for the B’s, he has been added to that list. Some players have shown great success, but others have not.
Success and Failures of Boston Bruins Hometown Players
Frank Vatrano made his debut for the Bruins on November 7th, 2015 against the Montreal Canadiens. His first NHL goal was a lot like the scenario most young hockey players from Massachusetts dream of. His shot from just inside the blue line found the back of the net to take a 2-1 lead in the Habs own arena. Vatrano also notched a hat trick against the Pittsburgh Penguins in the same season.
Vatrano isn’t an unsuccessful player, but with a lot of young prospects outplaying him, his time with the Bruins was over. For the Panthers this year, he has 20 goals and 13 assists for 33 points in 57 games.
Jimmy Hayes came to Boston from the Panthers for Reilly Smith in 2015. The Dorchester, Massachusetts native, who attended Boston College, was not the point producer they had hoped to receive. He ended his time in Boston with 15 goals and 19 assists in 133 games.
A high point for him but a low point for Bruins fans was when Hayes scored in a game against the Tampa Bay Lightning to put Boston up 2-0. He celebrated by taking the figurative monkey off his back. The celebration made sense, as it was his first in 35 games, carrying over into the previous season. But even with the goal, his performance was nothing special. After scoring just two goals in 2016-17, his contract was bought out by the Bruins at the end of the season.
He is the son of former Bruin Ted Donato, who was drafted by Boston in 1987 and later ended his career there in 2004.
Ryan Donato was just dealt away to the Minnesota Wild for Coyle but showed that he has a lot of potential to play at the professional level. In 46 games, he recorded 11 goals and seven assists. Like it was with Vatrano, he could find success with his new team now that he’s away from the pressure of being the hometown hero.
Coming from the New York Islanders, Chris Wagner made his way back to Boston in the latest off-season. He has since scored eight goals and five assists in his 58 games. He is one of three players from Massachusetts on the roster, Coyle included.
Wagner hasn’t had the most success in the league but has already broken his goal total for a season with a few months to spare. Even as a fourth-line winger, he generates a lot of shots. As of now, he has totalled 104 — just 44 away from top-line centre Patrice Bergeron’s total. Now, Wagner isn’t the next Bergeron, but he delivers in areas he needs to.
Matt Grzelcyk is the other current member of the team born in Massachusetts. The defenseman has just four goals and 25 assists over his three seasons with Boston but averages about one full period of ice time per game this season. This is a huge jump from the 12:29 average he had two seasons ago.
The Pressure of Performing
Neither Grzelcyk nor Wagner are “Hometown Heroes”, but perhaps that’s for the better. The three former members mentioned above had some type of pressure on them to be producers for the team but didn’t live up to that expectation.
Vatrano was a thrill that just didn’t last. Hayes was a gamble that didn’t pay off — proven by the fact that the Bruins bought out his contract a year before it was supposed to expire. And Donato may not have been given that chance to shine. He only played in 46 games, but the Bruins have playoff hockey in their sights.
Coyle only has 10 goals and 18 assists this season, but a change of scenery and expectation to provide goals in his home state may just be what he needs to get going. And if he does, the Bruins will have a player ready to help them try for another Cup.
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