Boston Bruins

NEWARK, NEW JERSEY - JANUARY 28: Pavel Zacha #37 of the New Jersey Devils skates against the Philadelphia Flyers at the Prudential Center on January 28, 2021 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

New Boston Bruins forward Pavel Zacha, acquired in a trade with the New Jersey Devils last week, was born over 4,000 miles away from a 617 area code.

But he’s absolutely about as close to a ‘hometown’ addition as general manager Don Sweeney and the Bruins could have made this summer.

When the Bruins acquired Zacha, it was quickly made known that he would be available for an in-person media availability the very next day. That’s a bit different. Less than 24 hours notice and this guy’s gonna be in town? “Damn, this man must really hate those Jersey summers,” I thought. That may be the case, but it’s actually because Boston is where Zacha calls home during the offseason.

Just how the hell did Zacha — a Czech Republic native who has spent his entire North American career with the Jersey-based Devils — end up settling down in Boston?

“When Brian Boyle and Jimmy Hayes played with me [in New Jersey], they asked me if I wanted to train with them in Foxborough, and my girlfriend lived in Needham, so it was like, ‘OK, let’s make a summer here [because] I’m gonna try training here,'” Zacha said of his ‘roots’ in town. “It worked out really well. I’ve trained here every summer since then, and I really like it. It’s a big hockey town, so you have a chance to skate and train with a lot of good hockey players.

“In Czech, you have like one, two, or three guys in a city. And here, there’s 10 or 15 guys who you can train with, play, and play some golf with in the summer. It’s just such a big sports town. Everybody talks about hockey. It’s just cool to be around it in the summer and have the opportunity to do that.”

Zacha cited Thayer Academy and the Braintree-area as his training spots in town. He also made Boston living official in 2021 with a full-on purchase of a home here, and his connections go beyond summer training sessions with the locals.

Zacha and Bruins defenseman Jakub Zboril, both of whom were selected in the first round of the 2015 NHL Draft, both hail from Brno, Czechia.

“I basically grew up with [Zboril],” Zacha admitted. “I’ve known him since I was four years old, and we were like best friends growing up. We played together until we were 13 and then spent [time] on national teams together and stuff. He texted me right away. It’s just funny how it played out for us that after 15 years, we’re back to playing together.”

The 25-year-old Zacha is also close with David Pastrnak.

“With Pastrnak, he’s only one year older than me,” Zacha noted. “We’ve played on national teams together, and we’re linemates on national teams. A great guy off the ice, too, as everybody here knows.

“Seeing him playing, it’s great to see, you know? When you have countrymen from the Czech Republic, you don’t have that many players who make it to the NHL. Having someone [who is] such a good goal scorer and player in the league, it’s great to play with him and tell your friends that you play with Pasta.”

With Zacha in town, the Bruins now have a roster that features four Czech players between himself, Pastrnak, Zboril, and fourth-line center Tomas Nosek. If the Bruins have it their way, that number will jump to five when David Krejci commits to a return to the NHL and signs with the Bruins.

“It’s great to know a lot of players coming into the team,” Zacha, who also received a welcome text from Patrice Bergeron, said. “Everybody’s been really nice so far, so it’s an exciting time for me.”

The next step: Avoiding arbitration and getting a deal done with the B’s.

Click here for 98.5 The Sports Hub’s complete coverage of the Bruins


Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for 985TheSportsHub.com. He has been covering the Bruins since 2010, and has been a member of the Boston chapter of the PHWA since 2013. 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.