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Haggs: Greer Admits Former Bruin Lucic ‘Is Who I Want To Be’



Boston Bruins

BOSTON, MA – If Boston Bruins fans were to draw up what’s been missing from the hockey team for the last couple of years, it would have looked very much like what A.J. Greer brought to the table in his TD Garden debut on Tuesday night.

The 25-year-old Greer was hitting everything in sight, stirring it up before and after the whistles and ended up potting a pair of goals in the B’s 3-2 overtime win over the New York Rangers in their home preseason opener. That’s the same Greer that scored two goals in his first 47 NHL games prior to signing a two-year, one-way contract with the Black and Gold that has Boston perhaps finally finding the attitude and energy player they’ve desperately needed for years.

Greer finished with the two goals, five shots on net, six shot attempts and seven hits in 13:06 of ice time while bringing loads of energy to the table. It was stark, in fact, to watch Greer and Trent Frederic playing in the same game with both players expected to play similar roles, but only one of them really shining in an important moment for all bottom-6 forwards competing for lineup spots right now.

“It was an amazing feeling. Putting that jersey on is something special for sure,” said Greer. “Every year when you come into camp, whether or not you’re a guy they see in the lineup, you’ve got to give it your all. This year, they trusted me with the contract they gave me and I wanted to make sure [they knew] that they made the right decision.

“To be given the opportunity, I cherish it. And I’m going to give back to the game. I’m going to give my 100 percent do everything I can to put myself in the position to succeed. Everything is coming to a peak here. Everything on and off the ice is coming to fruition. Sometimes things don’t work out right away, but that’s when you bring perseverance, and you’ve got see that goal and breathe it…you gotta live it and do everything you can to make it.”

That sure sounds like a player that’s hungry to carve out his niche in Boston where he might be the right player, at the right place during the right time to bring energy and attitude.

It got to the point in the game that Rangers players had their head on a swivel looking for Greer because he was stirring up the action, as Jarred Tinordi did at the second intermission after a scrum in the corner as the period ended. Greer was in the Rangers’ collective faces all night and elevated the temperature and energy within the game.

But it wasn’t just energy and grinding it out, as his two goals would attest to in the OT victory. The 6-foot-3, 210-pounder teamed up with young center Jack Studnicka for both of his goals, so it wouldn’t be a stretch that the Greer/Studnicka/Marc McLaughlin line skating around on Tuesday could potentially be the fourth line when the regular season opens. He felt the moment and celebrated hard afterward even though it was just a preseason game, and the former Boston University forward wasn’t about to apologize for it afterward.

“Listen, when I scored that OT goal maybe I shouldn’t have cellied that hard, but I love scoring goals. Scoring an OT goal in Boston…what do you want more?” said Greer. “I have fun. I have fun playing the game. That’s the thing, I’m focused and I’m an intense person. But I enjoy what I do. I’m not going to apologize, but that was definitely a sick reaction from the crowd and I’m hoping to do that again.”

Certainly, he’s caught the attention of the new Bruins coaching staff as well, as players often do that come into training camp intent on making an impression and winning a job. Jim Montgomery said matter-of-factly that if the regular season started tomorrow, Greer would have already won a job with several weeks of preseason play still to go.

“They were really good. The energy they provided tonight and the second and third effort on pucks,” said Montgomery, of the Greer, Studnicka and McLaughlin trio. “Getting to the hard areas. A couple of hard forecheck goals and that overtime winner was a skill goal by both of them.

“What I like is we see a young man [in Greer] that’s looking to make a starting lineup from Game 1. He’s doing everything he can to impress. He’s fighting, he’s hitting, he’s shooting. He gets energy in the building, and he gets energy on our bench, so he’s doing a lot of good things.”

What Greer had to say afterward about his style of play, and approach to wearing the Spoked B, had to be music to Boston Bruins fans’ ears as well.

“I grew up watching Milan Lucic. I try to model my game after him, for sure,” said Greer, who finished with 22 goals and 52 points in 53 AHL games last season. “Energy, physical, can put the puck in the net & will stick up for your teammates anytime. That’s who I want to be.

“Growing up in Montreal, I saw a lot of the Bruins. I think I’ve always seen myself kind of playing the hockey that the Boston Bruins play. So to be here is a dream come true and I’m fortunate every day to be in the position I’m in and make the most of my opportunities.”

Obviously, Greer is a long way from a guy like Lucic that became a folk hero in Boston and has logged 1,096 NHL games as a fearsome power forward and Cup champ, but just having a player that aspires to that on the Boston Bruins roster is a very good thing. And the Boston Bruins have a long list of Lucic-lite players like Matt Beleskey, David Backes and the Ritchie brothers that were brought in and failed to live up to that job description.

The Bruins will gladly settle for what they saw on Tuesday night in Greer stirring things up, bringing the energy and maybe even lighting the lamp every once in a while, when the B’s are looking for a jolt.

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