David Warsofsky Making NHL Debut in Buffalo
BUFFALO, NY – When Marshfield, MA native David Warsofsky hits the First Niagara Center ice in the Spoked-B on Thursday night, he'll be making his much anticipated NHL debut.
Naturally, and not surprisingly, the defenseman is both nervous and excited.
"Obviously, it’s my first NHL game and I’m excited about that opportunity," Warsofsky said following the team's pregame skate before facing the Sabres. "I’m a little nervous at the same time, but I think nerves are a good thing and hopefully it helps come game time."
The 23-year-old is in his fourth year with the organization, after getting his first taste at the end of the 2010-11 season with Providence, following a three-year collegiate career with Boston University. It was right before Boston made their run to the Cup.
So, when Assistant General Manager Don Sweeney pulled him aside during the P-Bruins practice on Wednesday, the thrill came rushing in.
"Sweens came up to me after, just asked if I could be on a flight at two o’clock so I kind of rushed out of practice, went home and grabbed some stuff, and met the team at the plane," said Warsofsky of the whirlwind day that always accompanies a callup, especially the first of his pro career.
The recall came after Kevan Miller was sent down before his tenth NHL game (to avoid losing him to waivers), and with Adam McQuaid (lower body, injured reserve) not yet ready for game action. No matter the circumstance, Warsofsky is now getting his chance.
The defenseman has proven himself at the AHL level, having played in 160 games with Providence, and putting up 64 points - off 10 goals and 54 assists - in that span. This season, he's put up 16 points (2 goals, 14 assists) with a plus-10 rating. He was a national champion with the Terriers.
"He’s finding his own game – I’ve seen that this year – and he’s comfortable in his own skin now," said General Manager Peter Chiarelli, on Warsofsky's development. "So I think you’ll see a confident player [in his debut] that doesn’t try and press too much."
After spending significant time in Providence being "seasoned" and maturing as a player, Warsofsky was never really too worried he wouldn't get the call.
"I don’t know if there was a concern. I think, it’s my third year, I was kind of waiting for the opportunity but I never really gave up hope in the organization," he said. "I know if I played well, eventually I would get my opportunity."
A look around the Bruins' locker room right now easily suggests that it was easy for Warsofsky to slide in, with former P-Bruins teammates Matt Bartkowski (who he'll likely be paired with to start the game in Buffalo), Torey Krug and Jordan Caron.
Also, with other callups like Ryan Spooner, Matt Fraser and Nick Johnson around the room, a strong veteran presence, and a characteristically welcoming group, it's a been fairly seamless transition for Warsofsky.
"I think any time you go into a new environment and you know someone – even if it’s one person or two people – I think that settles your nerves a lot and just makes you feel a lot more comfortable," he said.
Warsofsky has been around the organization for a while, so whether it's at training camp or during the playoffs, the team is plenty familiar with him.
Right before Warsofsky met with reporters in the team's visiting room, vet - and former longtime P-Bruin - Johnny Boychuk knew exactly where all of the media were headed. "Yep, David's available, he's available," the blueliner jokingly remarked, with his stall nearby.
"Millsy came up and then I live with Craig Cunningham down in Providence. He was telling me how welcoming everyone was here so that kind of gave me the sense of relief," said Warsofsky.
In fact, it's been quite the week for roommates Warsofsky and Cunningham, who received his first NHL recall and played his first game this past Tuesday, December 17, against Calgary.
"Yeah, we haven’t even seen each other all week. But I was taking care of the house and now he’s on duty," joked Warsofsky. "So it’s fun."
There's no doubt that Cunningham will be tuned in to his friend's debut, but Warsofsky will also have a cheering section in attendance.
"I think my mom and my dad are obviously coming and I have three brothers too, so I think they’re trying to make the trip down, they’re trying to get off from work," he said, before quipping, "So I think they’re a game-time decision whether they’re going to be here or not."
One brother who may not get the leave from work is Ryan, who, ironically enough, is the manager of hockey operations and assistant coach for the Bruins' ECHL affiliate South Carolina Stingrays.
"So that’s pretty neat, but I don’t know if his coach is going to let him get off. I think they play tomorrow so he’s going to try and make it and hopefully they all can."
With family and friends tuned in, there's also excitement from his teammates in Boston.
"It’s exciting because I think it brings back memories for everybody and their first game," said Bruins' netminder Chad Johnson, who will be between the pipes for Warsofsky's debut.
"Having new guys there, it just sort of lightens everything up and I think everybody reflects on that moment when they have that first outing. So for us, it’s exciting that he can experience it tonight."