In an amazing twist of hockey fate, things have come full circle for Garnet Hathaway with the Boston Bruins after growing up a big-time hockey fan in Kennebunkport, Maine. One might think the 6-foot-3, 208-pound Hathaway might have grown up a massive Boston Bruins fan living outside of Portland, Maine where the Black and Gold have a grasp on pretty much all corners of New England outside of the Western part of Connecticut.
But Hathaway grew up a 30-minute drive from the Cumberland County Civic Center in Portland, Maine where he grew up watching the Portland Pirates, the AHL farm team for the Washington Capitals that had future Caps players like Ollie Kolzig, Richard Zednik, Byron Dafoe, Anson Carter and Sergei Gonchar passed through on their way to the NHL. By extension that actually made the hard-hitting Hathaway as much, or more, of a Capitals fan than a Boston Bruins fan, with his most vivid memory going to TD Garden to watch Kolzig and Dafoe face off against each other as members of the Capitals and Bruins respectively.
It all makes it all the more “pinch me, am I dreaming?” for Hathaway as he has now played in the NHL for both the Boston Bruins and Washington Capitals hockey clubs that he watched so closely while growing up.
“I’d say I was pretty split. The AHL team [in Portland] when I was growing up was the Capitals and so my dad would take my brother and me and we’d come [to Boston] to watch Bruins and Capitals games,” said Hathaway. “Yeah, I’m a New England guy raised in Maine, so I was always cheering for the Bruins. But seeing those games it was always special. My brother was a big Olaf Kolzig fan. He watched and kind of taught me while we were watching the minor leagues and [the player] progression to the NHL, you kind of bought into the team and the organization.
“It went both ways. Those were the only two teams that we would come see [at the Garden]. [Playing for both of them] is pretty crazy. It’s nuts, actually. The one game that’s in my head that I’ll always remember was 1998 when Dafoe and Kolzig fought each other. I was in the stands and there was a line brawl and everybody on the ice for kicked off except for Joey Juneau. That’s the random stuff that I remember. My dad was born and raised in Maine and he went to school down here [in Boston] so I’ve always heard the stories about the old Garden. Stuff like that is what I grew up hearing about.”
It’s all built Hathaway into a high-energy, physical and emotional forward that plays like he grew up watching Big Bad Bruins games and is quickly endearing himself to B’s fans with his big hits, his willingness to stand up for his teammates and his underrated play all over the ice as a top-6 forward. Boston Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery hit it note perfectly when asked about Hathaway’s fit as a Boston Bruins player.
“He just embodies the Big Bad Bruins,” said Montgomery. “I was just talking to him [last week] about how much we as a staff appreciate what he does game in and game out. I think he is very underrated as a hockey player. He builds our game in all three zones and his understanding of game management and momentum is beyond reproach.”
It all makes one wonder what kind of future the 31-year-old Hathaway might have with the Bruins as he becomes an unrestricted free agent following the season. The fit has been excellent between players and team, but Garnet Hathaway said it’s something he hasn’t even thought about while coming off a four-year, $6 million contract that he’d signed with the Capitals as a much younger player.
“Honestly, I haven’t really even thought about it much. This last month has already been a lot to think about,” said Hathaway, who has 12 goals and 21 points in 79 games for the B’s and Capitals this season. “I never thought I was going to leave Washington. Throughout this year I was trying to win a Cup in Washington and then I get a call on Feb. 23, I think it was, and it’s crazy how quickly your allegiance has to change.
“So it’s really short-term thinking right now. It’s emphasized by the guys in this room too. I came [into the room] in the midst of a 10-game win streak and guys are just focused on that next game. It’s Belichick-esque but it’s really just worrying about the day that you’re in, and that’s how I am approaching it.”
It’s no surprise Hathaway has fit right in with the Boston Bruins given his approach to the game, but it’s beginning to feel like it was really meant to be for the hardnosed Maine kid to end up in Black and Gold as the prime of his NHL career.