If the March 4 trade deadline had been a speed- dating party, Boston Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli would’ve had every box on his checklist marked off once he got past Steve Montador’s table.
The fact is, the 29-year-old Montador is a perfect fit for this Bruins club. An excellent skater with puck-moving abilities and an offensive flair, Montador is as adept at playing forward as he is his natural defense position. He recently recalled to TheBruinsBlog.net that prior to last season he played at least one game a year at forward. Last season with Florida, he played about two fifths of the season up front – albeit unwillingly at first.
“Once I accepted the situation last year, I actually started enjoying it and having success. So, probably just like anything …” said Montador, who this season with Anaheim and Boston has posted 4-17-21 totals. “Being a D, it’s nice to be on the other end of it – sitting at a different part of the bench, doing different drills. I mean it’s like I’m a fan again of the game, just seeing everything for the first time, enjoying it, trying new things, being in situations you’re never in. It’s all fresh. And that’s what I really enjoy about it. It’s a new opportunity. It’s a chance to get better at something I’m not as familiar with. Now when I step into it, there’s no problem.”
He finishes his checks and plays with a physical edge that’s synonymous with “Bruins hockey.” And, as he showed over the weekend – with two fights in two games – he’s not afraid to cross the line and drop the gloves to make a physical point.
“He’s a great teammate. He’s a guy that’s got some experience, too. He’s played in the playoffs. And he brings that to our team,” said winger Chuck Kobasew about Montador, who was his teammate also in Calgary.
“He’s versatile, he plays them both well. He’s a hard worker. He’s got offensive ability but he also brings a lot of toughness.”
Plus, off the ice, he’s a man of the world — both charitable and intellectual. Like his teammates Andrew Ference and Zdeno Chara, Montador has traveled the world and become a major supporter of the Right to Play charitable organization.
It’s widely known that in the summer of ’07, Montador traveled with Ference to Africa for Right to Play. And Ference often points to Montador’s willingness to depart for the Dark Continent on short notice as representative of the type of man, as well as player, Montador is. But you might not know that when Montador got the call to go to Africa, he’d recently returned from a lengthy tour of China.
Despite the short amount of time he had to get his paper work together, get his shots and take off for Africa, Montador immersed himself in the experience, a trip that completely opened his eyes to the world.
“It’s was life-changing. To see other parts of the world on TV — and I had just recently gotten back from a trip to China prior to that trip – so you gain a new perspective, not only for other cultures in the world, but growing up in Canada, I realized how fortunate I was to have the childhood that I did,” said Montador, who has also traveled to Europe a number of times and hopes to one day visit South America. “And so (the Africa trip) just reiterated that.
“I still have a hard time putting it into words. But it was amazing to see how much hope kids have in such dire situations.”
For Montador, getting involved wasn’t a one-and-done affair. Since that summer, he’s done numerous speaking engagements and fundraisers.
“Steve has been an incredible ambassador for Right To Play ever since he returned from his trip to Tanzania in 2007,” Right to Play Canadian deputy director Mark Brender said in an email. “During the season he has taken the initiative to get other NHL players involved, and in the offseason he is extremely active in speaking, appearing at events and being a passionate advocate for Right To Play’s work. He does it because he cares, and because he has seen first-hand how sport and play can change the lives of children and communities in the most disadvantaged areas of the world.”
And so there you have it – a completely filled-in checklist for why Montador is a perfect fit for the Bruins. The Bruins hope this world-traveler’s next trip involves taking the Stanley Cup on an excursion.