Prior to his season debut with the Bruins on Saturday night, Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson was pulled aside for the usual words of encouragement, pep talk, whatever you want to call it.
Often times, the onus is on the coaching staff to install the message of the day for players — especially those looking to stick with the NHL club.
But Bruce Cassidy and Boston’s assistant coaches opted for a familiar face to chat with “JFK” ahead of what was going to mark the 22-year-old center’s latest attempt to break through with the Black and Gold.
“We took Matt Grzelcyk aside this morning,” Cassidy said. “They played together at BU. ‘Hey, Grizzy explain a little bit how it worked out for you,’ because they are buddies and teammates. Sometimes a player translating those thoughts is easier than a coach and just play hockey.”
They may fill different roles out on the ice, but Cassidy has often compared Forsbacka Karlsson’s current situation with the one that Grzelcyk faced last year — with the defenseman finally settling into a role in Boston after some extended time down in Providence.
Did Grzelcyk hit the ground running when he made the jump up? As is the case with most young players, certainly not. But with additional reps and an emphasis on not diverting from his playing style — the BU blue liner finally found a regular spot in Boston’s D corps.
The message was largely the same for JFK ahead of Boston’s matchup against Toronto. Stick to what got you here, and the results will follow.
“Grizzy has been a guy that's been through it,” Forsbacka Karlsson said after Boston's 5-1 win over Toronto. “He knows what it's all about. I was just trying to soak up as much as possible from guys like him. Grizzy is an incredible guy and player, so it's a privilege for me to learn from a guy like that."
At a quick glance, the tangible impact that JFK had on a line with Anders Bjork and Danton Heinen might be tough to discern.
But, as the latest option on what has been a rolodex of pivots cycling through on that third line, Forsbacka Karlsson did more than enough to pass the first test.
The test being — earning the right for another look tomorrow.