BOSTON, MA -- Every team, from peewee to pro, needs a player who will stand up for his teammates when the going gets tough.
When the opponent decides to resort to intimidation tactics in an attempt to beat your team, you look for that guy who will step up and let the other team know that will not be tolerated. Ask around the Boston Bruins’ dressing room who that player is on their team and you get the name Adam McQuaid.
Going back to Boston’s first season in the NHL in 1924, the franchise has always had that player in its lineup from Eddie Shore to Eddie Shack to Johnny McKenzie to Shawn Thornton and now “Quaider,” as he is known in Boston, has assumed the role.
He is not the type of player that one would call a “goon.” He does not step on the ice looking to intimidate or injure an opponent nor does he sit on the bench waiting to be tapped on the shoulder by the coach indicating that he is to hop over the boards and take on the other team’s tough guy.
McQuaid is a throwback to the stay-at-home, defensive defenseman in the mold of a former Bruins Don Awrey, Mike Milbury and Kyle McLaren.
Need a puck battle won in the corner? McQuaid will do it. Need an opponent moved out of the slot? McQuaid will do it. Need a crisp first pass to start the breakout? McQuaid. Need a big hit? McQuaid. Need someone to drop the gloves? Yup, Adam McQuaid.
He just does his job without looking for attention night after night and while doing so, McQuaid has become a leader on the ice and in the dressing room.
McQuaid joined the Bruins organization on May 16, 2007 when he was traded from the Columbus Blue Jackets for a fifth-round draft pick in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft which Columbus traded to Dallas, who used the pick to select Jamie Benn.
McQuaid plied his trade with Boston’s American Hockey League affiliate Providence Bruins until he put on the big club’s uniform in Boston in 2009 for his first taste of the NHL. He joined Boston on a full-time basis in 2010. Since, McQuaid has risen from a quiet youngster to confident leader.
Patrice Bergeron is one player who has watched McQuaid grow into the role of a leader.
“For sure, he’s a guy that we always look up to,” Bergeron said when asked about McQuaid. “(He’s) standing up to guys, always having our backs. He’s just a great player. He’s a great person, can’t say enough (about him) on and off the ice. He’s becoming a leader for us on and off the ice and the young guys are looking up to him as a mentor so he’s been great for us.”
Bruins captain Zdeno Chara, agrees with Bergeron and appreciates how dependable McQuaid is on a nightly basis.
“Adam is a very quiet leader but he tries to lead by example,” Chara said. “He’s steady on the ice and he lets his actions speak for his words. He’s very reliable, very steady, very likeable guy in the dressing room and you always know what you can expect from him. It’s great to have someone like that who you can rely on and always count on as a teammate.”
Ask him to describe his style of leadership and the ever-humble McQuaid immediately tries to change the subject from himself to his team.
“I want to do my part,” said the 30-year-old native of Prince Edward Island. “I think everybody does. The thing is with this team is when we have everybody going and doing what they best, we can be a pretty successful team.
“I guess I am getting older, and the thing is, the guys that come in (rookies) are so skilled and talented it’s not like I’m going to be teaching them whole lot on the ice probably, but if I can just be a veteran guy that can be there for questions and stuff off the ice. I try to be available for guys if need be from game to game depending on the situation. I just try to give my best effort when I’m out there and called upon.”
There is no doubt that McQuaid has been doing his part for the Bruins since 2009. He was a key member of the 2011 Stanley Cup championship team and sent Boston back to the Stanley Cup Final in 2013 when he scored the only goal in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Final against the Pittsburgh Penguins to complete the Bruins sweep of the series.
In the years since, McQuaid has become one of the game’s top defensive rearguards by playing a tough, in your face brand of hockey. There have been injuries along the way but that’s all part of playing that style.
It is a style Boston’s fans have come to expect from their Bruins dating back to Eddie Shore and like Shore, Adam McQuaid’s teammates know that he will always be there for them and will always have their backs.
Shawn Hutcheon is the Boston Correspondent for The Fourth Period. Follow him on Twitter.