A Serious Opportunity for Hutch
But the goalie still wears a smile to the rink
BostonBruins.com — The saying goes that the best things in life are the ones worth waiting for. Maybe that’s why, as Michael Hutchinson has waited his turn to get a crack at the starting goaltender job in Providence, he’s been all smiles.
Now, as the main-man in the crease for the P-Bruins, Hutchinson is still smiling, and ready to make the best of an opportunity he had to wait, and compete, to get.
"The last few years, I don’t think anyone liked sitting on the bench, and I was just sort of waiting for my chance and opportunity, and it just happens to be this year, so hopefully I can make the most of it, and continue where I left off last year," Hutchinson told BostonBruins.com after a practice last week at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center.
A 22-year-old prospect, originally from Barrie, Ontario, Hutchinson has been in-and-around Providence since 2010. The Bruins drafted him as an 18-year-old in 2008 (Round 3, 77th overall). Now, with two years of professional hockey experience under his belt, Hutchinson will take over the full-time duties for the P-Bruins in goal.
"It’s a bit of pressure, but it’s good pressure," Hutchinson said. "I can’t wait for the season to start."
How he got to where he is now was through waiting and hard work. Hutchinson has made 57 starts for Providence over the last two seasons, posting a 26-24 record, and a .876 save percentage. Last season, seeing his most time as an AHL player, Hutchinson sported a 2.36 goals against average.
This year, in training camp, he outdistanced teammates Niklas Svedberg and Adam Morrison to win the starting job on opening night. But Hutchinson acknowledged it’s been a process; one that has required much refining and one that will take more time to perfect.
"Last year, I really realized how important positioning is, and just where my depth in the net needs to be,” Hutchinson said. "It’s something that we worked with Boston as soon as I came in here, and it took me four years to finally figure it out, but now, after last year I feel I’m in a good place coming into this year, and I know where to be in the net, and what to do in certain situations that I figured out last year when I got to play a little bit more toward the end of the year."Bruins Assistant General Manager Don Sweeney said he hopes Hutchinson will excel in his new role, and take his game to a new level.
"Clearly, Michael would like to establish himself as a number one goaltender," Sweeney said. "I think any goalie wants the net as often as they can, and he had a real solid year last year, especially statistically, from a goals against, and save percentage standpoint.
"The wins might not have been [there and that's] the direction he would like to see it move forward in this year.
"I think being counted upon as that go-to guy is what he’d like to establish himself, and clearly we’d like to see that as well."
Hutchinson said he’s continued to become a better professional, in all aspects of the title.
"It’s just all the little things off the ice," he said. "Getting to practice early, making sure that you’re prepared to go on the ice for practice right when the practice starts.
"So it’s those little things that you see all the older goalies do, and you just try to implement them into your game, and just be ready every single chance you get to play."
Dedicating himself to the game has not made it any less enjoyable though, Hutchinson said.
Even coming straight off the ice, still carrying all the weight of his pads, and fatigue of a practice, Hutchinson wore the same big smile he has since he arrived in Providence.
"It’s still tons of fun," Hutchinson said. "When you’re having a bad game, you always feel that a bad day of hockey is a bad day of doing anything else.
"I just try and have fun, but I think last year I really found a balance between having fun and staying competitive, and focused, and serious about the game."