Colborne shows he could be captain material

WILMINGTON, Mass. – We now know that Bruins prospect Joe Colborne is intent on being more than just a top-performing center in the NHL someday.

With his actions prior to arriving for the club’s development camp, which started today with off-ice physical testing at Ristuccia Arena, Colborne established himself as a future leader that might one day where the captain’s ‘C’ on his sweater.

The 2010 edition of the Bruins’ development camp is Colborne’s third since he was selected 16th overall in the ’08 draft. He remembers how intimidating and uncomfortable it was to land in Boston two summers ago and not know anyone and not know what to expect. So he made sure that Boston’s ’10 draft picks would endure fewer of those feelings.

“I just wanted to be there and give them just a few words of encouragement and just say ‘if you have any questions, there’s someone who’s been through it before,’” Colborne explained today.

He secured phone numbers from assistant general manager Don Sweeney and then reached out via text and phone call to fellow prospects, including No. 2 overall pick Tyler Seguin.

“Just because when I came in, I didn’t know anyone,” Colborne continued, “and I just wanted them to have someone here that’ll answer the questions, even if they sound sort of stupid sometimes. They’re coming in, they have no idea what to expect and I’m someone who has been through it.”

Colborne has been through it and mastered it. He said that he came in at one pound more than his target weight (he’s 216), his strength testing has improved in every category and he ran a personal best in the 300-yard shuttle run in 57 seconds.

So Colborne, 20, is setting an example with his actions, as much as his phone calls and texts. You can count assistant general manager Don Sweeney among those impressed with Colborne’s decision to reach out to the club’s recent crop of draft picks.

“That’s music to all of our ears, to be honest with you. … I love that initiative on all our players,” said Sweeney. “He’s a great kid, but each and every one of these kids should understand that we hope that more (leaders) will emerge.”

Colborne produced 41 points (22 goals) in 39 games as a Denver sophomore last season, playing mostly on the wing. His six-game introduction to the pro ranks with Providence in AHL last spring featured him back at center and tallying two assists. Again, Colborne showed his maturity and burning desire to win by stressing that he’d be willing to even play goalie if the Bruins told him that’s how he’d reach the NHL. So needless to say, playing wing or center doesn’t matter to the 6-foot-5 phenom as long as he can work his way onto an NHL roster.

If he accomplishes his offseason goals during this camp and over the rest of the summer, he might have a great chance to win a job come fall.

“Talking with (strength and conditioning coach John) Whitesides and with the guys, I really want to improve on my explosiveness. It showed in my vertical jump, which is something I’ve been working on, and I improved a few inches from last year,” said Colborne. “I’ve been doing a lot of explosive lifting with my trainer back home … but I also feel like the quickness is coming and I’m kind of getting more comfortable in my body and I’m starting to fill in this frame.”

Sweeney said he could tell Colborne has filled out. But the assistant GM stressed that there’s still tons of work for Colborne to do. It’s doubtful that Colborne will shy away from that work. And if he continues to be as concerned about others as he is his own career, he’ll not only be a fixture in Boston’s lineup for years to come, but one of the players the rest look to for guidance. That could be as important as Colborne’s point and goal totals.

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