Not many fans of the Boston Bruins knew who Connor Clifton was a year ago. Not looked at as a top prospect, Clifton went about his business in both rookie and main camp without much fanfare. No one expected the young defender to make an impact for the Boston Bruins in 2018-19. Things don’t always work out the way people imagined. Connor Clifton is exhibit A of that fact. An afterthought last September, Clifton played a key role on the Bruin blueline during their march to the Stanley Cup Final.
“It’s something you don’t forget. Obviously making it to the Stanley Cup Final Game 7, that’s something special on its own, but it’s nothing we’re gonna forget anytime soon,” Clifton said.
That roller coaster ride can be difficult for some to handle, but Clifton took it all in stride. Now, he and his teammates must face a different challenge. The Bruins must avoid the Stanley Cup hangover that so many teams have dealt with in the past. Getting so close and falling short, in any sport, can have a lasting impact on a team. Clifton and his teammates understand that challenge.
“You use it as fuel, gotta be ready to go for game one,” admitted Clifton. “You just have it in the back of your mind. The feeling of defeat when you go so far, it’s pretty heartbreaking. It’s just always in the back of your mind.”
One other challenge that players who go on a run deal with is a short summer. There isn’t the same time to train, recover and prepare for another season. “It’s a short summer obviously, but that’s what we want to play until June 12th, right? That’s going to be our goal this year and that’s gonna be exactly what we want to do so obviously you gotta sacrifice something and that’s a lot of the summertime, which is good. It’s exactly what we want.”
Clifton’s role on the 2019-20 Bruins will be dictated by circumstances outside of his control. He’ll be playing higher up in the lineup if the Bruins struggle to get deals done with Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo and he says he’s ready for anything when it comes to those situations.
“Hopefully they’re back as soon as possible, but given that. . .if we have to play a couple of games without them, guys will step up and we’ll manage,” he said.