TORONTO, Ontario -- I'm sitting here typing with Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (filmed locally) playing in the background, chomping on pizza (pizza) washed down by chocolate milk (as I couldn't track down any Coke Zero) contemplating my whirlwind Tuesday tour of Toronto with local boy (and Bruins forward) Tyler Seguin and his GTA-based entourage of 20-somethings.
The whole day, beginning with my own late-night stop at Sonic Boom (a terrific record shop) all the way through apps at Real Sports had me reminiscing about my own college days. But the surprising thing was that Tuesday's trip around T.O. had Seguin recounting his own school days, too.
In the process, I uncovered yet another facet of Boston's budding superstar.
After a workout and skate at his school, St. Michael's College School, Seguin said that he had his eye on a Maize and Gold jersey way before he first donned his Black & Gold sweater at the 2010 draft.
"I came to Saint Mike's in the eighth grade and I came here because I went to Red Berenson's Michigan [hockey] camps growing up," said Seguin. "That’s the University of Michigan. That was kind of my dream growing up since my dad did go to college [to play hockey].
"And at the time, I knew a lot of guys went to the Saint Michael's Buzzers," added Seguin. "That was kind of my goal, so I wanted to go to this school and make this junior-A team.
"And I think by the ninth -- or probably early tenth grade -- I started growing a bit more and heading into my OHL draft year and last second kind of decided to go the old OHL route…and it’s kind of funny I ended up still in Plymouth, Michigan. So I did have the chance to go down to U of M and watch a couple games here and there," he said.
Saint Michael's is a hockey factory and even though Seguin played his hockey with the Plymouth Whalers, Seguin said his school experience was important.
"I mean, even though I didn’t end up playing for this team or going to college I still took a lot away from it," said Tyler as he surveyed the old rink. "This was a very, very professional school, professional atmosphere.
"You know you’d wear a tie and pretty much a blazer and dress pants to school every single day and yes it was all-boys school but in the end I think just knowing all the hockey guys that went here and learning from a lot of guys that came and visited and they’d give a little speeches here and there.
"And being a young kid I still took a lot away."
Seguin's still young, but he's no longer a kid. However, that doesn't stop his stomach from getting into a knot as he steps on school grounds every morning - he always feels as if he forgot his homework!
And when he was traveling to school there was no going back to Brampton.
"Yeah, it was pretty intense for two years," he said. "My mom would wake me up at about 6 a.m. to go to downtown Brampton which was about a twenty-minute drive at the time to catch a bus.
"I’d take that bus to Yorkdale Mall, which is about probably 40-45 minutes in the morning. From there I’d hop on a subway and take it to St. Claire street which was another about 20 minutes and then from there I’d walk about three of four blocks to get to my first class," he said.
"So I’d do my best to make my first class every day, but it was definitely a haul every day to make it."
But Seguin has made it - literally. Already NHL sniper, Tyler has a Stanley Cup ring and a terrific career ahead of him. Even so, a look at the plaques and pictures in the Buzzers' home rink leaves him humbled.
"It’s definitely an honor [to have gone to St. Michael's]," said Seguin. "Coming back, I run into my teachers all the time.
"I’ll get messages from them just to meet their kids outside of school here because they want to train here and I think that’s definitely something you definitely feel proud about when your old teachers…want [you] to meet their kids."
That said, some of the staff remember a young Seguin begging to borrow a tie for the day as he hurried onto campus.
"Yeah. I can’t believe they still remember that," said a smiling Seguin, who said he'd often lose neck wear on the way to school. "It was definitely a long day every day I came to school, but it was for my dream."
Seguin does tough core/pilates training to help strengthen and stabilize muscles.
Tyler's healthy habits are extending to the kichen, too.
In this video, Seguin shows you his simple post-workout meal of eggs, toast and a protein shake - with organic elements, of course, complements of the “Ference effect” as 19 jokingly referred to Andrew Ference’s healthy nutritional habits.
Tyler Seguin and his dog Marshall in Toronto.
BostonBruins.com asked Tyler about his best moment of the summer...
"Probably when I got my dog," he said of Marshall's homecoming. "The first day, just because they’re like a baby.
"It’s been a task, but it’s helped me become even more responsible and it’s nice to see him grow up."
Tyler Seguin warms up before a skate.
"Every day starts off with usually 30 to 45 minutes of stretching and a lot of just getting your muscles ready for the workout and then after that we go to in the gym or we go in the track," said Seguin after the workout/skate. "Today was in the gym. It wasn’t too much heavy lifting but it was a lot of explosive stuff, since we’re at the end of August.
"Probably within the next two weeks it will probably start being a bit more battle drills, almost like a training camp and, you know, that’s why I enjoy coming here."
TILLSONBURG, Ontario - For nearly 20 minutes, bostonbruinsTV waited patiently for Gregory Campbell to say something into the wireless microphone mounted to his hockey equipment during a late-morning skate at a rink in Waterloo. But in that entire time all we heard, besides the crunch of skates and the slap of the puck, was a focused silence.
However, after practice, when asked about the reasons so many of the Bruins make it a priority to return to their hometowns, Campbell was downright verbose.
"As much as I love Boston, I think, for me I think family is one of the most important things," he said. "I think for a lot of players [feel] it’s nice to get away from, I guess, your place of work for a while and enjoy your time with your family.
"For me, it’s my immediate and extended family who’s all from this area, and obviously my current family now with my new wife and her family’s from this area. So I think it’s just a place where I’m comfortable with being; a place that I don’t get to spend a lot of time, being in Boston eight to ten months of the year and a place where I get to come home and see my friends and people that I don’t get to see a lot and kind of enjoy a different side of life.
"As I said, as much as I love Boston and I love the people there and the city itself, this is my home," added Campbell of Ontario. "This is where I’ll settle when I’m done playing and it’s just a comfortable place for me to relax, but at the same time focus on what I have to do for the upcoming season."
But it's not that difficult for Campbell, who wears a trademark "game face" much of the time when he is in New England, to remain focused on hockey and the forward admitted that at times taking a step back from the rink has been difficult.
As such, the rolling green hills and fields of his native Tillsonburg or the more laid-back environment in the Kitchener/Waterloo area seem to create a respite that allows Campbell to smile a little easier.
"Yeah, I think it’s something that I’ve struggled with in my career," said Campbell. "It is finding that balance between being focused and being intense, but also letting myself enjoy myself ultimately and relax.
"You know, once the season starts it’s such a grind and there’s no telling how long the season’s going to go. Obviously two years ago we played for 10 months over 100 games and that takes a toll on you, and not only for one year but constantly if you want to be a player that enjoys a long successful career.
"I think you have to be able to step away to give yourself not only your body, but your mind, a break."
However, winning the Stanley Cup helped Campbell learn how to fine tune his focus.
"I think that with winning put things in perspective as far as the time we got off last year," said Campbell. "You know, basically we had two months off before we had to start the new season, and it kind of forced me to take a step back this year and use the time.
"Unfortunately, we were out a little too early, but it forced me to step back and use the time in a productive way – meaning letting myself rest, letting my body letting my mind relax and recharge and be ready to go at it again this year."
As Campbell traveled along Ontario's roads with his dog Wally, it was easy to see why he makes it a priority to take the foot off the gas. But as soon as talk turned to the upcoming season, the game face returned and so did Soup's slow boil.
However, Gregory quickly recognized the switch and smiled widely.
"I know that’s the knock on me a lot especially in the dressing room that I 'game face' a lot and, you know, I’m too serious," said Campbell. "So for me to change that it’s been a struggle, but I think to be successful you have to allow yourself to adapt and change, you know, you can’t be stuck in your ways because the game is always changing.
"I’m changing. I’m getting older and I have to allow myself more of a break sometimes.
"But, you know, for the time being, you know, the summer time…so I have found different ways to unwind and let loose a little bit."