Second in the Central Division and hotter than just about any team in hockey right now, the Nashville Predators have recalled a familiar face to fans of Boston.
Steve Begin, the Bruins fourth-line center last season, was given another opportunity to play this NHL season after the B’s decided to part with the unrestriced free-agent this past offseason — signing a contract with Nashville on Oct. 21, 2010. The 32-year old has played in 21 games for the Predators’ AHL affiliate, the Milwaukee Admirals, posting 3-1-4 scoring totals and 20 penalty minutes.
Begin, who will wear No. 28, was recalled to the NHL yesterday and will make his 2010-11 NHL debut tonight against the Devils in New Jersey. The puck drops at 7:00 p.m. EST at the Prudential Center.
Now for all of you who know me, know that I am one of the biggest Begin fans and advocates out there. Although Gregory Campbell has been a pleasant surprise and has exceeded all expectations in Black and Gold this season, I do miss seeing No. 27 buzzing around the ice.
Sure, he may not have been the royal pest that we all knew him to be in Montreal, but Begin truly defined and epitomized what it meant to be a Boston Bruin. Playing hurt on many occasions last year, Begin was considered a “warrior”, as general manager Peter Chiarelli once praised of his tenacity and determination. The feisty center played in (and gave it 100 percent) 77 games for the B’s in 2009-10; led the team with 184 hits during the regular season (33 more than Zdeno Chara), and his 41 hits in the playoffs were second to Milan Lucic’s 42.
On the shorthand is where he really shined. More often than not, Begin was paired with Daniel Paille on Boston’s penalty-kill — which ranked second overall last season. And the fourth-line pivot also finished the regular season with a face-off winning percentage of 53.5, and 53.7 in the post-season…not too shabby.
Having been fortunate enough to speak with Begin on more than one occasion last season — be it after practice or post-game locker room interviews — Begin was hands-down my favorite player to talk to. Being a hard-nosed player, you’d never expect Begin to be so humbled, polite and soft-spoken. He’s one of the great guys in this sport; a true ambassador, and it’s exciting to see him get at least one more shot at the big time.
It took the 32-year-old Begin almost four months of offseason time to get inked to an NHL deal. And now that he’s here — and with a club that is on a tear, 7-1-2 in their last 10 — something tells me Begin’s debut tonight will be one worth watching.