Boston blue line keeping Shattenkirk hungry

Now a veteran presence with the Boston Bruins in his 14th NHL season, Kevin Shattenkirk has come a long way since his collegiate days as a Terrier – but he’s not done learning.

Boston blue line keeping Shattenkirk hungry

Feature photo: Getty Images

The one thing that Kevin Shattenkirk wanted to impress upon his new teammates was something he has carried with him since his rookie NHL season.

Skating in his 14th campaign in the league, now a member of the Boston Bruins, the 34-year-old Shattenkirk has fit in seamlessly playing with the Original Six club.

Boston’s elder statesman on defence, in terms of age and games played, is effusive in his praise of the team’s blue line corps.

“I’ve been very impressed with the guys on the back end, and I knew going into it that it was a special group,” said Shattenkirk. “Charlie McAvoy and Hampus Lindholm are leading the charge, then a guy like Brandon Carlo, seeing how hard he plays and how great he is defensively and Derek Forbort, the effort and contributions he makes there is a lot of experience on the blue line. That is great for a guy like me.”

“We have great conversations and dialogue about our games. That’s the best part of it, the open forum for everyone. It doesn’t matter where your place is in the lineup, how much time you play on the powerplay and penalty kill everyone is very supportive. When you play with guys of that calibre, it forces you to be better. That’s what I’ve enjoyed about it so far. … you get to raise your level as high as it can be.”

And if you’re Shattenkirk, you are given an opportunity to share some words of wisdom with your fellow defenceman, including one piece of advice that has stuck with him since his rookie season of 2010-11.

“The biggest thing is consistency,” offered Shattenkirk. “I found through the veteran guys that I played with and learned from is that you can’t just have one good game and sit on it. You need to do that every night. You won’t have your best every night, but you find a way to work through that. It’s something that I still carry with me today and that I try to impress upon everyone that I play with. You can always learn something.”

It has been an approach that has served the New York native well over his hockey life, including an NHL career that made stops in Colorado, St. Louis, Washington, New York,  Tampa Bay and Anaheim.

Having the chance to be back in Boston, albeit in a far different scenario than his collegiate days at Boston University, is a treasured one for Shattenkirk.

“It’s been a lot of fun. Obviously with the start we’ve had, that’s been the cherry on top. We’re settled in as a family. It took a few weeks to get adjusted to apartment living with two kids, but it’s been great.”

“I’m having a different experience than I did in college. We’re living in an area where we didn’t venture out too much in college. In a way, it’s been a different experience, but in the same sense, there is also that familiarity, visiting spots we did in school.”

The 6-foot, 212-pounder looks right at home on the ice too.

In his first 10 games, Shattenkirk posted three assists while averaging over 17 minutes of ice time per game.

“I’m the most tenured player on the back end, but there are still so many things I am learning from these guys. That’s always what is fun for me it keeps you fresh and energized. You have that hunger. Someone like Charlie, I’ll ask him questions and he’ll have questions for me. It works both ways. We all get to work together.

A key member of the Tampa Bay Lightning team that won the Stanley Cup in 2020, Shattenkirk, who has 47 points (eight goals, 39 assists) over 85 postseason games, finds himself in a similar role with the Bruins as a respected veteran with big-game experience.

It’s a role he enthusiastically embraces.

“What happened to them last year, you can see that everyone is looking to be that five to 10 percent better than last year. I am so grateful to be part of it all.

“This locker room, the guys have been together a long time. There have been great leaders over the past 20 years who have helped build an amazing culture here. They make sure everyone is taken care of and everyone is as comfortable as possible so that you can focus on your product on the ice.”

All of which makes playing in Boston an ideal fit for a veteran player who is happy to share lessons learned from his hockey journey, along with words of encouragement for his teammates.

“I tell the guys that they are here for a reason. You did something right to play at this level. If you approach everything professionally, you are prepared for each game and taking care of yourself, your qualities will shine.”