WILMINGTON, Mass. — The hours immediately after NHL free agency opens in July are usually dominated by the signing of some of the game’s biggest starts.
This summer, the Bruins didn’t make a first-day splash but instead subtly added character to their organization by bringing back Jeremy Reich, who today joined some old and new Boston teammates for captains’ practice at Ristuccia Arena.
“I had a couple options. It’s something I talked over with them, with my family and I didn’t need to talk very long,” said Reich, who played 90 games over two seasons with Boston and 199 with the Providence (AHL) farm team over three seasons before leaving as a free agent for the New York Islanders last summer. “I felt really comfortable [here] and I’m just fortunate they wanted me back.”
On most people’s depth-chart projections, the 31-year-old Reich is ticketed again for Providence, where he would be a favorite to regain the captain’s ‘C’ he wore in 2008-09. Reich, however, isn’t limiting his options in terms of where he might play this season and what role he might fill.
“I’m coming in with the same mindset I’ve had ever since I was 18 coming into camp. You want to make the team,” he said. “Once I start coming into camp saying, ‘oh I’m slated for so and so,’ then I think it’s time for me to move on. … But if it doesn’t happen I want to make it as hard as I can for them to send me down.”
With prized prospects Joe Colborne and Jordan Caron among a group that should provide the P-Bruins with a young core, Reich’s experience could be invaluable. Reich won’t shy away from the mentor’s role, just like the Bruins weren’t shy when it came time bring him back into the fold.
“Throughout my career I’ve tried to be a guy [with character],” said Reich. “When I was younger I was learning from the older guys, and now I’m older and the younger guys are learning from me. It’s something I enjoy.”
Things didn’t work out on Long Island because Reich broke his wrist in the last preseason game last fall and then returned for a brief stint before a broken collarbone landed him back on the sidelines. The ups and the downs of an NHL career have turned Reich into a coveted veteran presence that should benefit the Bruins regardless of where he’s playing.