When the bruins take to the ice at Pepsi Center in Denver on Saturday for their game with the Avalanche, they will see a familiar face on the opposing side. Defenseman Matt Hunwick, who was dealt to Colorado on November 29 for prospect Colby Cohen is patrolling the Colorado blue line now and is excited to face his old teammates.
“It’s going to be weird for sure,” Hunwick told ESPNBoston.com Friday night. “I mean it would be even weirder if it was in Boston for sure but still it’s always interesting playing your old teammates for the first time. I’m excited to hopefully catch up with the guys after or before.”
Hunwick, who was drafted by the Bruins in the seventh round of the 2004 NHL Draft, grew up in the Bruins organization finding his niche as a puck-moving blueliner for the last two seasons in Boston. He had a breakthrough season in 2008-09 with 21 points in 58 games and then faded a bit in 2009-10 with 14 points in 76 games last season. While he showed signs of blossoming more this season, he struggled with only three points in 22 games. The Bruins, facing a salary cap pinch with Marc Savard and Marco Sturm due to return from injured reserve, felt Hunwick was expendable and traded him to create some cap space. The rise of Steven Kampfer in Providence also made easier to make the move, as Kampfer presented a similar skill set.
Hunwick held no hard feelings for being a cap casualty and treasures his time as a Bruin and living in Boston.
“You know I have nothing but great memories of being a Bruin and living in Boston,” Hunwick said. “I love that city and love the fans. And then the guys in that dressing room were great. We really had a great bunch and I think a skilled bunch too. I was sad to leave but it’s a business.”
Now Hunwick is getting used to the more laid back lifestyle of Denver and Colorado as well as finding his role on a young Avalanche squad.
“It’s a different lifestyle for sure here,” Hunwick said of living in Denver. “The people are nice and it’s easy going but you miss that passion of the Boston fan for sure. But it is beautiful waking up, looking out the window and seeing the Rockies. I will get used to it. On the ice, things are the same really. They want me to move that puck out and create offense from the back end so I know my job and I’m fitting in OK.”
Hunwick has only three assists in 23 games with the Avalanche and is a minus-9, but the team as a whole has dealt with some injuries and he thinks once everyone gets back in sync things will turn around.
“I could be better for sure but we’ve been as a team up and down and I think as guys get healthier we’ll get in sync,” said Hunwick. “I like the enthusiasm here. We’re a young team and it’s an upbeat group. We’ve got some really skilled guys so I’m excited.”