WILMINGTON, Mass. — Tommy Cross has been attending Bruins development camps for so long, the first one he showed up at was the very first one.
Among his camp mates were Milan Lucic, David Krejci and Tuukka Rask, who between them now have around a decade of NHL experience and a Stanley Cup championship on their resumés.
Cross, who’ll turn 22 in September, still has one more year left to play at Boston College. Soaring with the Eagles continues to outweigh his desire to turn pro.
“It’s something that you obviously think of because as a hockey player, your goal is to play in the NHL,” said Cross today after the Bruins’ fifth annual development camp got underway with an hour-long on-ice session at Ristuccia Arena.
“But I certainly wasn’t rushing anywhere. Like I said, I’m in a great situation at Boston College and I love it there. And I need to get a lot better and that’s a great place to get better and work on my game and try to go for another championship this year.”
Cross was Boston’s second-round pick (35th overall) in 2007. He played a season in the USHL and then headed to BC. All along, he battled injuries (he’s gone through three different knee surgeries) and even missed one Bruins development camp completely because of surgery. Last summer was the first time he was able to go through all the drills with his teammates.
Coming off a 28-game season with BC, Cross (who put up 7-11-18 totals for the Eagles) says he’s completely healthy and eager to make more strides toward becoming an NHLer.
“It’s one of those things … you want to keep moving along that path, but also I look at it as you’ve got to enjoy the process, take pride in the process and getting down that path and how you’re doing it,” he said. “Whether it takes one year for some guys or four, five, six, eight years for another guy, it’s making sure you’re always moving down that path.”
Cross is rooming this week with one guy who shouldn’t need more than a year or two to make the NHL — 2011 first-round draft pick Dougie Hamilton. Cross’ age and experiences make him the perfect tutor for Hamilton or any of the Bruins’ younger prospects at this camp. In a deep organization, Cross will need to show he can be a character guy in addition to a solid player to make all his hard work pay off with an NHL job someday.
While playing for the Bruins’ organization is the ultimate goal, Cross hopes that 10 months from now he’ll be celebrating both a national championship and his college graduation.
“I can’t wait. I’m pumped. It’s such a good place to be. … I love it,” he said of BC. “And it’s a great place to learn and get better and the coaches there, the team we’ve got … it’s fun to be a part of and I’m excited for my senior year.”