© (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
Boston Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid celebrates his goal against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the third period of Game 4 in the Eastern Conference finals of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup playoffs, in Boston on Friday, June 7, 2013.
What a difference a year can make.
A year ago today, Adam McQuaid was having surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome after a blood clot was discovered under his collarbone and NHL players were locked out. Tonight at 8 p.m. Atlantic, the Cornwall native and his Boston Bruins teammates host the Tampa Bay Lightning to begin the 2013-14 season.
“It puts things into perspective,” the 26-year-old McQuaid said of the surgery. “Hockey is a big part of my life, but it kind of gave me a chance to reflect on things that are really important.”
The blood clot was serious and required two surgeries — one to remove the clot and the other to prevent the condition from returning. He had a rib removed and part of his neck muscle.
“It’s kind of behind me now. It’s not something I think about,” McQuaid said Wednesday night. “If nothing else it is something that makes you not take your health for granted.”
McQuaid was able to return when the 2012-13 season began in January. But the six-foot-four, 200-pound stay-at-home defenceman said he had lost a lot of strength heading into the season.
While this off-season was a short one, with the Bruins run to the Stanley Cup finals coupled with the delay of the shortened season, McQuaid said he was able to prepare a lot with trainer Dave (Eli) MacEachern and training partner Nathan McIver.
“I got to train more for this season than I did last year,” he said. “I feel like I am further ahead.”
The Bruins appeared heading to Game 7 of the finals before the Chicago Blackhawks scored the tying and game-winning goal late in the third period of Game 6 to win the cup.
“That obviously stung at the time,” said McQuaid. “I think that we learned it’s a fine line from winning and losing in this league. Hopefully this year will be a little different outcome.”
The Bruins won the cup in 2011 and made the final two years later. It has many pundits predicting they will be in contention again next spring, despite making a number of roster changes.
“We have high expectations for our team,” said McQuaid, who was paired with young offensive defenceman Torey Krug during Wednesday’s practice. “We know we’re capable of doing something special, but we also realize it’s not an easy league to win in.”