Pevs Has Come a Long Way
BostonBruins.com -- Until you look at his career stats, it simply doesn't occur to you just how far Rich Peverley's come since first donning his skates on the youth rinks of Guelph, Ontario.
From the Milton Merchants of the OPJHL to the NCAA's St. Lawrence University Saints (of the ECAC) to the ECHL's South Carolina Stingrays and Reading Royals to AHL stops with the Portland Pirates and the Milwaukee Admirals and finally to three NHL cities, Peverley's hockey experiences have been as varied as the jerseys which adorn the closet of his new home in Guelph.
When we visited the forward this summer, Peverley tried to encapsulate that amazing hockey journey as we viewed his memorabilia and as he talked about his career it seemed clear that the pragmatic forward attempted to maintain perspective even as he made the jump from student athlete to the three levels of professional hockey. However, it was also very apparent that Rich was grateful for each of his stops and the way that his work in each of those cities prepared him for his NHL time in Nashville, Atlanta and, eventually, the Stanley Cup-winning Boston Bruins.
"Not a lot of Canadians have the experience to play college hockey, most of them want to play major junior," explained Peverley of his beginnings in northern New York. "Being able to go to a US college was a lot of fun and you learn a lot of things, a lot of great experiences.
"They give us a jersey towards the end of our career it was really nice."
Also nice was Peverley's ability to then take the things he'd learned with the Saints with him to the Stingrays.
"The ECHL was a huge building block for myself," said Peverley of his time in South Carolina. "Coming out of college, I was a little young and it took me a little bit of time to adapt to the pro game.
"But being able to play that amount of time in the ECHL -- they dress fewer forwards -- it was a lot of fun. It was the NHL lockout in 04-05 so to be able to go down there it was a pretty good league and it is today.
"For myself it was a really good development tool," he said.
For the NHL clubs that use the ECHL as a proving ground that development is the whole point. As such, Peverley said he was pleased to hear that the Stingrays have since become the B's ECHL affiliate.
"In my opinion, probably one of the top ECHL programs that they have going right now," said Peverley of the Stingrays. "It was a great place to play; a tremendous city, Charleston, South Carolina.
"I still keep in touch with a lot of people in the organization there, so like I said it was invaluable for myself."
Peverley's time in the AHL -- mostly with the Milwaukee Admirals -- was also invaluable.
"When you get to the American League you truly understand that you’re only one step away," said Peverley. "When I was in the ECHL, the NHL seemed a little bit like a pipe dream, but when you finally make it to the American League you’re playing with players that are being sent down from the NHL you really truly believe that…you’re really close and you believe in your abilities."
The Predators believed in Peverley, too - so much so, that Peverley never actually got to use one of the jerseys in his collection, his AHL All-Star sweater.
"I didn’t play," said Peverley. "I got the jersey – I had a choice; I was with Nashville at the time and they said you can go play…but I would've missed a practice with the team in Nashville and I would have had to be late, almost, for a game, which was actually in Boston, so I chose to stick with the team and I think it was probably the best thing."
Given that he was living his dream in the NHL and playing against the world’s best, Rich fondly recalled experiences in Nashville and Atlanta.
"They support their team really well and it’s a unique experience to go to a hockey game there," said Peverley of the Predators, his first NHL city. "It’s a very loud building and I really enjoyed my time in Nashville.
"They gave me a great opportunity to get in the NHL and a lot of teams don’t give their players that aren’t drafted a chance to play in the National Hockey League, they usually bring up their drafted players.
"I wasn’t drafted and I owe them a big thank you."
Peverley also passed along similar kudos to his friends in Atlanta organization, which subsequently moved to Winnipeg, Manitoba.
"The fans that were there were very supportive and we were lucky to have them because the team might not have been there as long as it [was] if the fans didn’t push to keep it as long as they did," said Rich.
"Atlanta was a great place to play," added Peverley. "I was very lucky…they picked me up off waivers [because] I could have been in the American League if they didn’t pick me up.
"So I’m very lucky that I had the opportunity in Atlanta."
Also lucky was Peverley's eventual shift to Boston.
"When I first got traded I knew we had a chance," said Peverley. "But when you’re going through the process of the playoffs - you really believe.
"And the more you win the more you believe in yourself and you believe in your teammates."
As Peverley looked at his framed Boston jersey, he added, wistfully, "It was just an incredible experience and something you want to relive again."