By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
The numbers game was seemingly always working against Adam McQuaid's 2018-19 season staying in Boston.
In the final year of a contract with a $2.75 million cap hit, and with the Bruins downright loaded on the right side of their defense corps, it was tough to envision a scenario in which McQuaid cracked a healthy Bruins lineup on a regular basis. With that in mind, the B's opted to give McQuaid a fresh start, sending him to the New York Rangers in exchange for Steven Kampfer, a fourth-round pick in 2019, and conditional seventh-round draft choice before the official start of training camp.
Still, the move was far from easy, as a by all means mourning Boston locker room told you with their raw reactions to the move.
"Very difficult day for me personally, and for the organization as well," Bruins general manager Don Sweeney said of McQuaid's departure. "We want to thank Adam; A tremendous Bruin, and a tremendous teammate.
"Every player dictates when they get an opportunity to play. In Adam’s case, he willed himself and made himself into a really, really good player and won a Stanley Cup as a result of it. Obviously, the competitiveness, the toughness — whether it was blocking a shot or potentially dropping the gloves — he’s evolved as a player to play in an era a few years ago versus playing last year. So it’s a testament to him, and the work that he did right back from the first time he stepped on the ice with Mr. V and Paul Vincent. There’s a lot that went into [McQuaid's development], and I was there every step of the way. It was a difficult decision because of what he meant to the Boston Bruins, and what he will always mean to the Boston Bruins."
Sentiments that were echoed by McQuaid's now former teammates.
"He’s been such a tremendous friend, a teammate, a leader," Bruins captain Zdeno Chara said. "It’s a very unfortunate part of the business. But we all wish him the best. He’s that type of guy and player that he will have success no matter where he’s gonna be. It’s hard to see your friend be gone, but he’s not out of our lives. So we’re gonna still be in touch and be friends."
Boston defenseman Kevan Miller, who jostled with McQuaid for the same playing time and role on Boston's third defensive pairing over the last few seasons, considered McQuaid somebody he looked up to en route to an NHL career.
“[McQuaid] kinda paved the way for a lot of guys like myself," Miller said. "He’s been a Stanley Cup champion. It’s never easy. I wish him all the best. I know he’s gonna do great over there. He’s gonna be great for that room, he’s a great player, and he’ll be dearly missed here. He’s probably one of the toughest guys in the league. He’s not just an enforcer or a fighter whatsoever.
"He can play, and we’ll miss him.”
For others, such as Boston top-liner Brad Marchand and starting goaltender Tuukka Rask, McQuaid's friendship is something that predates Boston, which undoubtedly made the trade that much harder to swallow.
"It’s a tough day. Very disappointing losing Quaider. He’s been an incredible teammate for a long time," Marchand, who was a roommate of McQuaid at one point and started playing with the bruising defender in Providence, said. "When you look around the room, you want guys like him. He’s just an incredible guy off the ice, in the room, a great friend. On he ice, he’s an incredible teammate — he’ll do anything for the team, anything for each and every player.
"It sucks. It’s unfortunately part of the business. This is a game we play in, and these are things that happen. We’ll never forget him as a teammate or friend. Everything we’ve gone through together… it’s hard losing him."
"He blocked so many shots and prevented so many goals for me and other goalies that we’re forever grateful for that, and he was a true warrior," Rask offered. "He defended his teammates on the ice all the time. Just a great, solid d-man and a great guy. I've spent all my career with him, so we developed a great friendship, so he’s gonna be missed."
Even Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy's relationship with McQuaid started before their time together in Boston.
"It is tough to see him go," Cassidy, who joined the P-Bruins coaching staff during McQuaid's season AHL season, admitted before the team's departure for the 2018 O.R.G. NHL China Games. "It’s been ten years we’ve been together. Way back in Providence, paired him with Matt Lashoff way back in the day. Became a shutdown defenseman for us... actually played second power-play [time on ice], we tried to grow his offensive game. So there’s been a lot of work over the years with Adam.
"Today was a tough morning. We’ll miss him, mostly as a person, but as a teammate."
Ty Anderson is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Ty? Follow him on Twitter @_TyAnderson.