Boston Bruins

OTTAWA, ON - OCTOBER 12: Chris Kelly #22 of the Ottawa Senators walks the red carpet prior to their home opener against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Canadian Tire Centre on October 12, 2016 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images)

It’s been two years since Chris Kelly decided to return to the Bruins organization.

After gaining experience in both the front office and coaching ranks during his brief Ottawa return before the move back to Boston, Kelly’s post-playing B’s run has come with the 2011 Stanley Cup winner on the ice for the team’s development camp sessions and six floors above the action during the regular season. Up on the ninth floor, Kelly has typically been seen with P-Bruins general manager John Ferguson Jr. in the B’s private box, and in between runs to the coffee station or fridge for a water, along with the other members of the Boston front office.

Experience is experience, and Kelly needed it. It just wasn’t in the role many in Boston were accustomed to seeing Kelly, who cut his teeth (and his face) as a vocal, bottom-six leader for the Black and Gold, in with the organization.

But Kelly’s move into an assistant coaching role with the team for the 2021-22 season will put him right back into the thick of things, and back in his familiar role as someone with a hands-on pull of the rope on a daily basis.

“Luckily, this job presented itself and I was able to get hired,” Kelly said Monday. “I think you’re kind of in the fight with the players in terms of their day in and day out [as a coach]. You can see the small differences that potentially help younger players grow their game with development. There’s that growth, but you’re not with them day in and day out. They’re at their club team, in college or juniors. You’re seeing them periodically. So you don’t see that growth, I found, as much, whereas when you’re there every day, you can really help the players and break it down a little bit more.”

The 40-year-old Kelly is also familiar with the B’s often-lauded culture, and can provide another voice to it behind Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand, the last two remaining on-ice holdover from the 2011 Stanley Cup team.

“It’s a culture thing; that competitiveness that their top-end players bring each and every day,” Kelly acknowledged. “I saw it when I joined the organization in development and how hard the top-end players compete in practice every day in the games and helping those players learn how to be a pro day in and day out, I think Boston is extremely fortunate to have the players that they have leading not only the young players, but the new players to come in because I was one of those players.

“I came in and was fortunate enough to be part of that team that won and to see how hard they were working right after they won the Stanley Cup in the summer to to come to camp the next season. I think it helped me maybe carve out a few extra years in the NHL because of the work ethic that they were able to instill in me as an older player. So to be able to come back and try to help with that on the other side is great.”

Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Yell at him on Twitter: @_TyAnderson.