ALLSTON, MA– Just before heading off to China for two preseason games against the Calgary Flames Bruins general manager Don Sweeney addressed his team’s logjam on the blue line. Sweeney dealt veteran defenseman Adam McQuaid to the New York Rangers for defenseman Steven Kampfer (who played 39 games for the Bruins between 2010-12), a 2019 fourth-round draft pick and a 2019 conditional seventh-round draft pick.
The move was sensible but difficult to make, and for teammates really tough to swallow.
“A lot of sad guys walking around here today,” Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy said before boarding the team bus to the airport for the flight to China.
In 462 regular season games as a Boston Bruin, defenseman Adam McQuaid had just 13 goals and 53 assists. He added three more lamplighters and eight helpers in 68 playoff games. So why would there be so many sad guys after he was dealt to the Blueshirts? Well as veteran winger Brad Marchand and goalie Tuukka Rask – who came up the Bruins ranks with McQuaid in both Providence (AHL) and Boston pointed out, he was the ultimate teammate and “a warrior”.
“It’s difficult losing Quaider, who has been an incredible teammate for a long time,” Marchand said. “When you look around the room, you want guys like him. He’s just an incredible guy off the ice and in the room. He’s a great friend, and as a teammate, he’d do anything for the team and for each individual player. So it sucks. It’s, unfortunately, part of the business. This is the game that we play and these are the things that happen, but we’ll never forget him as a teammate or as a friend after everything we’ve been through together. It’s hard losing him.”
Rask concurred and thanked his former teammate for all the times he kept Rask’s goals against average lower sacrificing himself and blocking shots.
“On the ice, he was a warrior,” Rask said. “He blocked so many shots, he prevented so many goals on me and other goalies and we’re forever grateful for that. He was a true warrior and defended his teammates on the ice all the time. He was a just such a solid teammate and a great guy. I spent my whole career with him and we developed a great friendship and he’s going to be missed. He’s a great player and he knows it and all the best luck in New York for him.”
The Rangers made it clear at the 2018 NHL Trade Deadline that they’re undergoing a youth movement when they shed some veteran talent and salary trading away former captain Ryan McDonagh and Rick Nash. So one may wonder why they would trade for an injury-riddled and aging defenseman in the 31-year old McQuaid? Well, if McAvoy’s reaction to the trade and gratitude for his time playing with McQuaid is any indication, it’s because McQuaid is a leader and can be a mentor for the Rangers youngsters.
“With ‘Quaider’, I’m so happy; I’m so blessed and thankful to have called him a teammate and to be able to have played with him and become friends with him,” the 20-year old McAvoy said. “I learned a lot from him. He’s such a great guy and the Rangers are getting a heck of a player and someone who will do anything for the team and an even better person. He’s just so selfless, it’s insane! It was so refreshing because he’ll do anything for you, literally anything. You can lean on ‘Quaider’ and you know that, and he makes that pretty obvious. He’s just so selfless, a great guy, teammate, and a good friend. It sucks. We’re gonna miss him a whole lot.”
McQuaid’s former teammates know though that trades are part of playing in the NHL and they understand it’s a business. As Rask pointed out, it’s a new opportunity for McQuaid, who was likely going to be a frequent healthy scratch and he and his former teammate will still maintain their friendship.
“We’ve both been here throughout our careers and since the beginning,” Rask pointed out. “He’s a great friend, a great teammate and it’s never easy, but it’s a business. You just gotta look at this as an opportunity for him and he’s going to a great organization with the Rangers, so hopefully, he’ll have a great rest of his career, but our friendship will go on and it’s something we cherish.”