CHARLOTTETOWN, Prince Edward Island -- My understanding of the B's Adam McQuaid was perfectly illustrated during a drive from Charlottetown to Cornwall on a blustery, rainy afternoon.
I asked the defenseman if his career had been enhanced by his upbringing on Prince Edward Island and he looked out the window of his truck, noticed farmers working out in the open on a nasty day and said, earnestly, with a slight shrug, "When you see these guys working in the fields on a rainy day, it makes it seem pretty easy to give 100% and leave it all on the ice."
None of that exchange was surprising to these ears or eyes, but the setting of the statement just underlined the blueliner's obvious love of this island and it's population as well as McQuaid's own desire to be true to his roots.
"I don’t do the touristy thing too much myself, but when people come here from away they’re always commenting on how beautiful everything is, how well everything’s kept up," said McQuaid. "It’s the birthplace of the confederation so there’s a lot of history here.
"I think people that are from here take pride in being from here and representing ourselves well. So I try and be welcoming to visitors when they’re here."
McQuaid always represents his home very well and he and his family were extraordinarily welcoming to a weary bostonbruinsTV crew invited into their home. But before we all sat down to a full turkey dinner with all the trimmings care of McQuaid's mother Dianne, Adam made sure we got an eyeful of his hometown of Cornwall and the nearby city of Charlottetown.
"There’s a lot of history, a lot of neat little restaurants and boutiques and stuff," said McQuaid. "It’s a fairly laid back feeling and I’m pretty lucky that I train right downtown [in Charlottetown] so, most days, after a workout we look forward to picking a different spot to go for lunch.
"When you're exhausted at the end of the day, it’s nice to go just relax and get a good meal."
It's also nice to read a good book, and while I'm pretty sure Adam hasn't picked up Anne of Green Gables too recently, he talked at length of the famous novel's setting in and around his home.
"Lucy Maud Montgomery…she’s from the island and she wrote the book," he said. "It's just a fictional book, but it’s funny - you get a lot of people that come to the island that want to see the exact locations that the book took place.
"It’s pretty well known around the world and something that a lot of people associate the island with."
Despite the storybook setting, P.E.I., thanks in large part to the modern architecture of Charlottetown mixed into a historic setting, also has a vibrant modern feel, too - a true testament to its people, who, like Adam McQuaid, seem very able to make an impact on the mainland, while keeping one foot firmly planted in the old fashioned, hard-working traditions of this island.
And even though McQuaid said he never felt as if he "shined" as a youth while playing on the island's rinks, as Adam talked about his rigorous offseason workout routine, which includes almost daily off-ice, weight training and on-ice components, his own hardscrabble mentality shone through.
"Getting out to the track a couple times a week and then the gym and then getting on the ice - sometimes they can be long days," said McQuaid. "But it’s worth it when you come to camp and you’re ready to go."
From where I sit, Adam is always ready to go, and a new display at his old rink in Cornwall speaks volumes to visitors who wonder about his roots.
But McQuaid's own reaction to seeing that commemoration for the first time said it all.
"You never expect something like this..."
Maybe, Adam. But it's a safe bet that your friends and family on Prince Edward Island certainly did.
A more aerodynamic Quaider? AM54 starts the day working hard at the track.
RIP McQuaid Mullet. Adam said: "I'm actually due for a haircut!"
HALIFAX, Nova Scotia – Thanks to numerous preseason games in the Metro Centre, for those of us working on the Bruins travel party -- and especially those of us who traveled hither and yon to cover the B’s Cup parties last summer -- Halifax has become a veritable home away from home.
But for Brad Marchand, Halifax is home and the B’s forward intends to make Nova Scotia his offseason base for the foreseeable future.
“It’s nice,” said Marchand, as he drove through the city’s streets after a brutal day-starting workout. “I live outside of town so I can come in and do my training and then, for the most part, I’m with my family the rest of the days."
“It makes being home really nice.”
His family -- and his neighbors -- make it the ideal location to recoup and regroup after the hockey season.
“For sure,” said Brad. “It’s always a lot easier when you have people around you supporting you.”
For Marchand, who is away for much of the year, having his family around is important.
“As we get older my siblings have more that they have to do, too. More responsibilities,” explained the forward. “So we do our best to spend time together.
“But the summers – you really have to dedicate it to your training and making sure you’re doing the right things for your body. So, you do have to focus on putting those first, those priorities first.
“But at the same time all that other free time goes to family and friends.”
As Brad spoke about his home base in Halifax, and his memories of last summer, he sounded as if he were talking about another old friend.
“Halifax is a big hockey city,” he said. “Everyone loves the game here and really enjoys anyone who has had success.
“There’s a lot of support for those people so we just knew that after winning the Cup it was definitely going to have to be a priority to share it as much as we could with the city and allow them to spend time and enjoy it as well.
“That’s what we did and everyone really enjoyed it, so it worked out great."
BANGOR, Maine -- So we were sitting in my boss’ office the other day and talking about last year’s travel around North America with the Stanley Cup.
I mentioned how much great material we had gotten for the site and how there was more to see and do that we couldn’t do because of Lord Stanley’s tight schedule.
Well, today we started on a six-day, 1821-mile journey through New England, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Quebec to see Bruins Brad Marchand, Adam McQuaid, Patrice Bergeron & Jordan Caron.
Right now, the estimated time in the car stands at 32-hours plus (only 11 or so on Sunday, though). But much of that day-and-a-quarter of driving is through some of the most picturesque parts on the continent (if not the world).
So, as I packed my bags for the significant sojourn to the Canadian Maritimes and la belle province, I was pretty excited to retrace at least some of my steps through St. Stephen, NB (Assistant GM Don Sweeney’s hometown), Halifax, NS, and Charlottetown, PE before returning to Quebec City for the first time since the B’s played the Canadiens in a preseason game in Le Colisee Pepsi.
Brad, Adam, Patrice & Jordan have all agreed to spend most of a day with our web video producer Jonny and I, and we’re hopeful to get to know their hometowns just a little bit better even as we learn about how they are preparing for the 2012-13 season.
Throughout the week I’ll be Tweeting and Instagraming via @NHLBruins (with the hashtag #BearTracks), blogging in this space and filming Bruins Beats. As we’ll have plenty of time in the car, feel free to send me questions about our trip along the way via Twiiter.
And we could certainly use a few suggestions for breakfast, lunch and dinner spots as we make our way to Canada and return to the USA.
We’re sure to have some fun and surprises along the way, so keep it here as we begin our summertime sweep through Black & Gold country.
BOSTON -- There's no doubt that Shawn Thornton has made a difference on and off the ice in Boston, but it's pretty clear that Boston has made quite an impression on Thornton as well.
As such the B's on-ice beat cop made sure to take some time to thank the people in and around his adopted home.
"The people have been unbelievable to me ever since I got here," said Thornton, who asked the powers-that-be to give him a little extra time with the Stanley Cup in order to give back to Boston.
"The organization, the Hall of Fame and the NHL were very gracious about giving me a day here on top of the one I had in my hometown," said Thornton from the dining room of the Warren Tavern in Charlestown. "So far, I mean we're only halfway through the day, it's been a good day.
"We've taken it to a couple of local establishments and all the people seem to be having a good time with the trophy, so I think everyone is getting a kick out of it.
"You see all the smiles on everyone's faces and that's pretty cool to see," he said.
Thornton said he was going to maximize that smile count, too.
"I know so many people in town now that I'm going to try and stop by a couple other places to get some pictures and take care of everybody as much as I can," said Thornton.
For Shawn, those stops included places like the Ironsides Grill, also in Charlestown, and the Red Sox offices at Fenway Park.
"We're going to take it to Fenway and let the people in the ticket office get to spend some time with it," said Thornton. "They're unbelievable to me over there.
"So we had talked about it and we're going to try and take it over there for a half an hour to 45 minutes and let all the people in the ticket office take their picture with it," he said, before adding "Then it's on to Children's after that."
Children's is, of course, Children's Hospital Boston.
"I know it's been to a few hospitals since we've won it and we're trying to figure out where we could take it where it hasn't been or it hasn't been in a while," said Thornton. "It's for the kids.
"I guess it sounds [cliche] because everyone says it's for the kids, but it is. So we want to take it there and bring some smiles to the faces of all the children.
"I mean that trophy has some special powers."
And so do the children. Thornton marveled at the patients' ability to transcend their illnesses.
"[Even] with the things that they are going through and they always have smiles on their faces it's pretty awesome," he said.
After a couple more city stops, Thornton planned to slow things down.
"I'm taking it to dinner with just me and my wife [Erin]," said Thornton. "I'm taking it to Navy Yard Bistro. My friend John Moore owns the restaurant. "It's a place in Charlestown where I spend a lot of time and John's a good friend of mine.
"He's recovering from an infection he had a year ago. He was in a coma basically and now he's walking around and swinging a golf club a little bit and he's been very supportive of my charities and stuff. So I'm going to take my wife in there.
"He said he's bringing out the best bottle of wine he has so I think we're going to try and enjoy that."
And then Thornton and a "few" friends will be treated to a private Dropkick Murphys concert.
"Kenny Casey's been unbelievable about tonight," said Thornton of the band's lead singer. "He's pretty much set all this stuff up tonight.
"He was supposed to have a [celebrity] golf tournament today and I was supposed to play in it...he cancelled that and he's bringing all the celebrities in, the corporate sponsors too, for a private show and of course I invited four or five hundred of my closest friends.
"It's like an astronomical number, but it should be a good time and the Dropkicks are going to play a private show for a couple of hours.
"It's going to be awesome."
Just like the rest of the summer.
BOSTON -- Andrew Ference brought Stanley back home to Boston for his day with the Cup on September 5.
"Well I've lived almost half my life in the States, so I feel like ive got a lot of homes," said the B's veteran defenseman, who hails from Edmonton, Alberta, when asked why he decided to spend his day with the Stanley Cup in the Hub of Hockey.
"Obviously, with the kids growing up and in school, we have a neighborhood that we live in and you add all the things together we have a lot of really close friends here in Boston.
"On top of that, it means a lot to this city. You know? If this was the type of city that wasn't so passionate about their hockey then I probably would have taken it home [to Canada]."
Like many of his teammates, Ference considers Boston more than a home-away-from-home.
"It's a great place," continued Ference. "They've been great to me and it's like home to us, just as much as anywhere else.
"A lot of my family came down here instead and will celebrate down here and have a good time...and we'll have a ton of people that we consider good friends with us."
That number would grow considerably during the day as Ference decided to bike the Cup around the city.
"I wanted to do that, I didn't know if I'd be able to pull it off or not," said Ference with a laugh.
"You know that's another perk of having it in Boston, you can get the Boston PD to help out and they've been pretty great and with the pedicabs we have a caravan going."
That caravan consisted of a some police on bicycles, a couple of bicycle cabs and Ference & Stanley -- with the Cup safely tucked into a cart that would normally carry Andrew's young daughters.
"So, we're doing a couple of cool things as far as my environmental interests go," explained Ference of his green tour. "I'm a big biker and would love to see more bike lanes in the city and all those kind of things.
"Even the beer that we are supplying for the party is from Harpoon -- a good local brewery that's doing their own environmental initiatives -- so, it's little things like that that I wanted to pepper into today.
"It's fun and I can do them -- it's my day -- so I can get away with them and have a good time with it," he said.
That good time began at the Beacon Hill Nursery School.
"This is the nursery school where my youngest daughter is going to go and where my oldest daughter did go," said Ference, from the middle of a gorgeous courtyard playground nestled in the middle of the historic neighborhood.
"It's great, we're right in the middle of Boston," he said. "From here we're going to Spaulding hospital, which is a hospital that we've done some work with over the past few years and they're tremendous.
"We're going to meet with some special people over there."
Finally, Ference would bring the Cup to some of the oldest addresses in Boston.
"We've got a procession in the North End which is going to be pretty much off the charts," said Ference. "After that, it's some good family time and a good little party at the end."
Beyond the bikes and the procession, Ference said that his intention, first and foremost, was always to share the Cup with his family and friends in Boston.
"I'm never going to get higher than I lifted it on the ice or in the locker room with the Cup, so to me this is my chance to share it with all of them and give my family some good time with it," said Ference.
"My wife and kids are obviously just as much a part of winning, or my career, as I am, so it's important.
"And you go down the list of parents, aunts and uncles and all the support that I've had through the years this is my day to organize and their day to experience and have fun with it," he said.
Halifax, NS -- Brad Marchand had some tense moments as he, like the rest of North America's East Coast, waited out Hurricane Irene's fury on Sunday and when it seemed certain that planes wouldn't be flying on schedule on Monday morning, he certainly had a few moments of worry.
But a few phone calls and a solid plan B put the Cup back on the road to Halifax on what turned out to be a gorgeous -- albeit windy -- sunny day in Nova Scotia for Marchand's day with the Stanley Cup.
"My dad [Kevin] did a great job of setting up a car to take me, my uncles, my cousins and a few buddies up to PEI," said Brad. "We drove up last night and spent the night there and we had a little hiccup this morning -- the bridge was closed -- and we couldn't get back on the car we went over on.
"So we had to take three taxi vans over the bridge and have a couple more cars meet us on the other side to bring us back to town, but it all worked out all right."
It certainly did, but Marchand couldn't have been shocked to see his family step up on his behalf. They've been doing that his entire career.
As such, Brad was thrilled to be able to use his moment with Stanley to show the world just how important his family and friends are in his life.
"It's very important," said Marchand. "Family is everything and through my whole life and everything I've done, everyone else in my family's done it [too].
"The support that everyone shows; it doesn't matter what it is. Going to work, hockey, volleyball -- whatever it is -- every sport, my family is there every step of the way and it's really amazing how everyone comes together to support each other.
"So, coming through everything, they've been with me every step of the way and it's just that much better to share with them all," he said.
Marchand expanded that sharing to include all of Halifax.
"Well, obviously I grew up here and we have a hockey crazy town at any time," he said. "Something big like this, that has to do with hockey, and everyone will come out and support each other.
"It's amazing, just being around town, how many people love the Bruins and are excited about the team winning.
"So, to bring it back here is very special," said Marchand.
The forward spoke about his other special city, Boston, and explained that some of his favorite moments of the playoffs revolved about the Hub of Hockey's support for the B's.
"I think the best part of it all was pulling through each step and realizing how much it took to win each round," said Marchand. "Then, even after we won the semifinals, being around the city and seeing how much the city and town was enjoying the whole thing was pretty special."
Brad's special day in Halifax seemed to hit all all the marks, too.
"We're going to hang out with the family here for a bit and do some pictures with thema and then we're going to go to the IWK Children's Hospital," said Marchand. "Obviously, that's a big thing to be able to share with the kids.
"Then we're going to have a parade and a little proclamation with the city.
"We're going to go out to the rink where I played my minor hockey and have an opportunity for people to come out there and share the day with me," added Marchand. "It's going to be fun."
It was fun to see Marchand's face as he put the Cup through its paces on a day that matched the banner that now hangs in the St. Margaret's Centre, which proclaimed "Small Towns Big Dreams."
And it was even more fun to see Brad point to the children in the crowd at his own minor hockey arena and tell them to keep dreaming, that their own dreams can come true, and that the proof was right there on the stage with him -- the Stanley Cup.
CORNWALL, PEI -- As his own day with the Stanley Cup got into high gear, Boston Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid talked about his favorite memory from the B's championship run.
"To see the reaction of the fans and the support that we had was pretty great."
Anyone who saw the reaction of the fans from Prince Edward Island was surely saying the same thing as McQuaid traded a Boston Duck Boat for a hometown "Harbour Hippo" to travel through Cornwall to celebrate the Black & Gold's Stanley Cup championship.
For Adam, the return to his home in the Canadian Maritimes was a given.
"To go to the different schools and different places that I spent a lot of time growing up -- that's what made me what I am today and it's nice to go back and see those places and especially to bring this along with me," said McQuaid.
In fact, McQuaid wanted today to go well so badly for his family, friends and fans, he was still showing some nerves even as he held the Cup in his arms at mid-morning.
"The nerves are dying down a little bit, but even still I'm still a little nervous," he said. "You know, it's a big day and I've been waiting a while for it. And hopefully everything goes smooth.
"A lot of planning when into today," added McQuaid. "Hopefully everything can work out."
By all accounts, McQuaid's day went off without a hitch.
"Well, we picked up the cup at the airport and we had a little tour around my hometown of Cornwall," said McQuaid, downplaying he and Stanley's packed schedule,"the different schools that I went to growing up and the old rink that I played at growing up.
"And right now we're at my father's homestead where he grew up to get some pictures and wait around for the parade.
"Then I'll have a little private gathering," he said.
In contrast my own private notions, it's the land that is so initially striking about the first impression of Prince Edward Island, and as McQuaid was photographed in and around his old stomping grounds, the green beauty of the natural landscape and the red soil of the fields contrasted nicely with the dark blue hues of the Atlantic seen in Charlottetown.
Most interesting (and perhaps a first for the Cup) was the McQuaid family's visit to a local potato farm and pictures with Stanley some very well known products of their home province.
"Well, really, it's what PEI is known for," said McQuaid of the potatoes. "It's kind of cliche I guess, but it's still part of who I am and where I am from."
Those people who surrounded him in nearly every picture -- McQuaid's family and friends -- certainly get the lion's share of credit for instilling the work ethic and values that fueled Adam's ascension to the NHL and the young blueliner made sure everyone knew it.
"I've had an amazing amount of support from my family and, you know, today's a day that we all get to share together and for a lot of people here it will their first chance to see the Cup -- it's exciting to see the reaction you get from people when they get to see it," he said.
McQuaid, a soft spoken, but well spoken, recent entry in the B's locker room, decided to take a moment to thank the hundreds of people who lined his parade's route and waited in the parking lot of the APM Centre.
"To see the support that I have here keeps me going during the season. It gives me the added motivation a lot of days," said McQuaid. "There's some long days, so knowing that I have the support from you guys means a lot.
"I'd like to thank all the volunteers here today for making today happen. I had a great committee that helped put the day together. It wouldn't have been able to go as smooth -- so far -- as it has without them.
Obviously, I'd like to thank all my family and my extended family that's come in from all over the place; my billet family from Sudbury and everyone who's traveled here to the island from Boston," he said.
But McQuaid seemed to want to talk specifically to the young people in attendance and his words of wisdom came from a place that belied his youth.
"I just want to say that it was just a short time ago, I think seven years ago, I was just like anybody else in the crowd watching [fellow PEI native] Brad Richards have his celebration," said McQuaid.
"I guess I just want to say that regardless of what you're doing, whether it's hockey or whatever it might be, if you want something bad enough and you're willing to make a sacrifice and be determined to get there -- it may not happen overnight and there's going to be your ups-and-downs -- you can always make it happen if you truly believe it."