BOSTON — The whole Thanksgiving and Black Friday thing probably doesn’t mean too much to Canadian-born Bruins rookie Tyler Seguin and his Carolina counterpart Jeff Skinner.
No, today’s matinee at TD Garden is more just about renewing a relationship that dates back to before the 2010 first-round draft picks were even in their teens.
“We both used to play for the top two teams around when we were like 7 and 8,” said Seguin recently. “There was always this big matchup, Skinner vs. Seguin. They used to do exhibition games just for us, just to showcase us two when we were really young. It was more for the parents, I think.”
Both junior-eligible players have done well to make the NHL as teenagers just months after getting drafted. After Seguin went second overall to Boston, the Hurricanes used the seventh pick to pluck Skinner. In 21 games, Skinner, also a natural center, has posted impressive 6-11-17 totals. Seguin, who recently shifted out to the wing a bit, has produced eight points (four goals) in 20 games.
It’s hard to believe that prior to their stretch as rivals in the OHL — with Seguin skating for Plymouth and Skinner for Kitchener — the pair of standouts were teammates for the Toronto Young Nats in the Greater Toronto Hockey League.
Obviously, it was tough to game plan when facing that talent-laden squad.
“We both were actually centermen and then we mixed and matched all the time,” said Seguin, who said he sometimes even skated on a line with Skinner. “In our [OHL] draft year, we had three lines but we’d do two centermen – it’d be Skinner and I – and we’d do three [sets of] wingers rotate through so one of us would always be on the ice.”
Seguin said he keeps in touch with Skinner here and there, but mostly when he faces him on the ice. This afternoon, he gets a chance to catch up with Skinner, and they both get to show one another how they’ve matured into NHL-caliber talents.