McQuaid’s mean streak makes him a Bruins mainstay

McQuaid didn’t quite meet Jones’ goal of eight or nine a year but added some scraps to his ledger over his four seasons in Sudbury.

“It wasn’t in his nature,” recalls Jones. “I tried to tell him, you can still be a real nice guy off the ice and be real pleasure to be around. But on the ice, you’ve got to be nasty. And I said if you want to make a living, especially a real good living in the National League, you’ve got to have that nasty side. Everyone that plays in the National League has a mean streak – no matter if you’re a goal-scorer or a defensive player. It took him a little time to understand that, but obviously he got it and he’s just continued to get it.”

McQuaid, who was selected in the second round (55th overall) of the 2005 NHL Entry Draft by Columbus after his second season of junior, both honed his nasty streak and continued to improve his all-around game with the Wolves. He posted impressive 9-22-31 totals in 65 games in his last season with Sudbury in 2006-07. Stuck behind Kris Russell and Marc Methot on the Blue Jackets’ organizational depth chart, however, McQuaid was dealt that May to Boston for a fifth-round draft pick.

Keeping them guessing

Even at his size and with his experience throwing fists in junior hockey, McQuaid – with his gosh-golly looks and Brady Bunch-like bush of dark hair on his head – was still able to catch some people by surprise when pushed over the edge by an opponent’s physical play.

“I looked over at the bench and said, ‘What the hell is Quaider doing fighting?’ I didn’t know,” remembers Marchand about the first time he saw McQuaid drop the gloves in a game for the Providence AHL farm club. “He’s literally the nicest guy I ever met. If I had met him off the ice before I saw him play, I never would’ve guess he’s as tough as he is.”

There was no way McQuaid was going to fight his way to the NHL. So he kept improving his game as well with the P-Bruins. He emerged as a shutdown defender on a couple solid Providence teams in 2007-08 and 2008-09.

“He would try to step out for hits, as opposed to letting it come to him a little bit. He got much better stick position, understanding to allow the game to come to him. He worked on that part of his game – foot speed, all that stuff,” explains Bruins assistant general manager Don Sweeney. “He became, the last year and a half in particular, they built the patient part of his game as far as moving the puck.”

The Bruins showed patience with his development, so in turn McQuaid rewarded them last season when they gave him a 19-game run in the NHL by limiting his mistakes and making hay with his hands three times to earn five-minute majors.

There’s always room for a guy that works as hard in practices as in a game, and is willing to do anything to win after the puck drops. So it was apparent McQuaid had a future with Boston when last season ended. Over the summer, he re-signed for two years.

McQuaid socks Pelley/By S. Bradley

Making the most of it

It’s unfortunate that right now McQuaid requires injuries to teammates to get in the lineup. But he has embraced the opportunity and allowed Boston to picture a future with him as a regular and maybe his emergence has opened the opportunity for the Bruins to trade from a position of strength.

There’s no hesitation on McQuaid’s part to transform into his on-ice alter ego when challenged, as evidenced by his five fights (including the beat down of Washington’s Matt Bradley that landed him a spot on HBO’s 24/7 show), and he has gained confidence joining the rush more and trying to create a little offense in his limited amount of game action. Off the ice, he’s still the same mild-mannered kid, who teammates say will do anything to help them out and, most of all, is quiet.

His ratio of affability off the ice to surliness on it might be the greatest of anyone in the entire league. Maybe he keeps the hair puffy to add to that Jekyll-and-Hyde mystique – he says he looks “weird” with short hair – or maybe he’s just a throwback in every sense of the word when it comes to a hockey player.

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