TORONTO — Nick Holden played minor league hockey in Springfield, and with some of his family members being big Bruins fans, he couldn’t be happier the New York Rangers chose Boston as his trade destination.
“Me and my wife, we’d try to get to Boston as much as we could. We loved the city and obviously the Bruins, the history with the Bruins and the organization and stuff. Everybody knows that,” said the lanky left-shot defenseman, who met up with his new team here Wednesday.
“When I got traded, my brother called me right away and said, ‘This is the best.’ He was so excited. He was over the moon. His son (Trennen), the Bruins are his favorite team. His (school) principal came in and told my nephew, and he got up and just started celebrating. It was pretty cool.”
Holden said his wife and three children will stay in the New York area until school’s out.
“Travel-wise, it’s a three-hour drive. It’s the best-case scenario of wherever I could get traded,” Holden said. “She’s followed me around because the ultimate goal is to win, and getting traded here, that’s the best spot to try and do that. I’m excited for the hockey side. Family side, not as excited for her because now she has more work than she did before.”
Holden did not know anyone on the Bruins until he joined his new teammates here for a previously scheduled team dinner on Wednesday. At the end of his first Bruins practice yesterday, he had the honor of being in the center of the team’s stretch(drills).
But while Holden is happy to be here and the Bruins are happy to have him, coach Bruce Cassidy is not sure when he will get into the lineup. It’s not like there is an obvious body on the left side to be taken out. In yesterday’s session, Holden skated with Adam McQuaid in what looked to be a fourth pairing.
But Cassidy does like what Holden could bring.
“He’s big (6-foot-4), he’s long. I watched some of his shifts against us, actually. Good defender, good first pass. I think he’s going to help us,” Cassidy said. “I know the next question is when. We’re going to talk about that today and look at our lineup (for tonight against Toronto). I don’t know when it’ll be. It could be (tonight) or Sunday or after that, the reason being we’ve liked the seven guys we’ve used over the last two months and we can’t forget about that and not have loyalty to the guys that got us here. So that’s a conversation we’ll have internally, and we talked to him about it directly, told him that’s the situation.
“We’ve generally played the guys who deserve to play this year, and when he’s in, it’s his job to stay in.”
Holden will transition to a different defensive system than what the Rangers used.
“I’ll know a little more once I play a few games, but it’s just a little less man-on-man style, more zone in the (defensive) zone,” he said. “Everything else is similar in the way you play the rush and stuff like that. But once you get into games, you’ll know a little more system-wise.”
The 30-year-old Holden, who’ll be a unrestricted free agent this summer, began his career in the Columbus organization before playing three years with the Colorado Avalanche. He had something of a breakout year last season with the Rangers, posting 34 points (11 goals) and a plus-13 rating.
But with the Blueshirts barely treading water, management publicly announced a couple of weeks ago — right after the Bruins crushed them, 6-1, at Madison Square Garden — they would be taking on a rebuild.
Holden knew that with his contract situation, he was a prime candidate to be moved.
“At the time, we were three points out of the playoffs and we felt we were good enough to make a push and get in,” Holden said. “But the organization wanted to do something different and as a player you don’t have control over that. As professionals, you’ve got to keep playing, and that’s what we were trying to do. We knew changes were imminent, and they’re starting to happen now.”
With the NHL trade deadline approaching Monday, the Bruins will soon find out if general manager Don Sweeney and his counterpart in New York, Jeff Gorton, have any more business deals to consummate.