Getting traded to a playoff contender is great, but it’s not always easy. If you’re a young, single guy, then yeah; it’s all fun. But for Drew Stafford, getting dealt from Winnipeg to Boston at the deadline meant a whirlwind of activity. And it wasn’t the first time the big right winger has gone through the process.
“I relied on my experience going from Buffalo to Winnipeg,” Stafford said. “That one definitely caught me off guard because it was before the deadline, it kinda came out of nowhere and it was a big, blockbuster deal (the Evander Kane/Tyler Myers trade) with a lot of moving parts. At the time, my son was only a month old, so it was like, ‘Sorry babe, I gotta go.’ You’re packing as quick as you can and I had to be on a flight in a couple hours, so I was literally gone.”
This time Stafford was more prepared, as he thought a trade from the wilting Jets might happen. Not that the circumstances were any simpler: this time, his wife was 33 weeks pregnant with twins.
Luckily, everything worked out. Stafford was there for the births and the rest of the family is staying in Minnesota while he plays for Boston. The veteran gave the Bruins depth scoring as they gritted their way into a post-season slot down the stretch and he has already counted on the scoresheet in the opening round series against Ottawa. Having the opportunity to just come in and play helped the mental aspect of the move and that’s important: as has been noted countless times, deadline trades don’t often have the impacts that fans expect. Sometimes it’s the smaller deals that reap the most benefit.
Boston’s advantage is that the Bruins already had a core with Stanley Cup rings. Injuries have held them back and we all know how shooting percentage damned them at the beginning of the season, but that got better with time.
Stafford ingrained himself in the room early, even taking Matt Beleskey to see Buffalo metalcore giants Every Time I Die at legendary Boston club The Middle East (Stafford and the band go way back). For a guy that played for the division rival Sabres for nearly a decade, it was also nice to get to know some of the Bruins stars on a personal level.
“Playing against these guys, we had some pretty good rivalries going back,” he said. “I didn’t know guys like Chara or Marchand or Bergeron, but playing against them there’s a healthy respect for what they’ve done and for me to be part of the group now has been huge.”
And while he was never a target for heckling by Bruins die-hards during his Sabres days, it is fun for Stafford to rock the black and gold when he’s in Boston now.
“So far in the city, I’ve had a lot of support from fans reaching out,” he said. “It’s been a really good experience so far.”
What would make it even better is if he can help the Bruins make another run at the Cup. With key players such as David Krejci, Brandon Carlo and Torey Krug on the sidelines, the Bruins are a little thinner than usual, so the addition of Stafford at the deadline is looking like a very savvy move in hindsight.
Plus, the veteran becomes an unrestricted free agent in the summer – so he’s playing for both team playoff glory and the chance to show off his skill set to the rest of the NHL once again.
No matter what happens during the post-season, Stafford will have the summer to get to know his newest big (tiny) fans back in Minnesota – and he can do it while living at home, instead of a hotel.