David Pastrnak’s eyes were a wee bit red and blurry after finishing up his first Bruins captains’ practice Monday afternoon at Warrior Arena.
The Bruins’ prolific-scoring right winger had a good reason for the look; he was running on very little sleep after flying in from Czechia Sunday.
“Hey, it’s good to be back, obviously,” said Pastrnak. “Long travel yesterday. So, good to be back and shake off the jet lag, get things started. Excited.”
There was nothing blurry about Pastrnak’s on-ice performance, however, as the 61-goal scorer showed off his customary elite acceleration and shooting during the skills-and-scrimmage session.
Pastrnak welcomed a baby daughter in June and devoted much of his summer to honing his parental skills in his native Czechia.
“It’s been amazing,” he said. “Obviously turn your life around and obviously it’s been great. Had the time to spend with my family this summer and we call it the perfect timing and we are enjoying every day, so it’s been amazing.”
Pastrnak, who signed an eight-year, $90 million contract extension in March, finished with 113 points during the 2022-23 campaign, much of that playing with David Krejci as his center and Pavel Zacha at left wing.
It’ll be a much different look when camp opens Wednesday, as Krejci has retired from the NHL and Zacha is expected to shift to center. It would seem a natural fit to keep Zacha and Pastrnak together, but those decisions will work themselves out in short time.
“There’s a lot of spots to be taken and opportunities,” said Pastrnak. “So, we play with Pav, same language, same nationality. It’s a very easy transition to play with him. He’s a very smart hockey player. He can adapt.
“Not every hockey player has that talent to adapt to the other players, and he has it. So I think it’s going to be very easy for him to add a bit of playing center or on the wing or [with new linemates]. I obviously had some great games with him and got to know him a lot. So, excited to see what he’s got for us this year.”
Though Patrice Bergeron and Krejci, both of whom served as pivots for Pastrnak, are gone, Pastrnak was happy to see the return of a familiar — and friendly — face in Milan Lucic.
“I’m so happy to have him back,” said Pastrnak. “It’s been a long time since we’ve been on the team, but I always remember my first couple of years, he’s one of those guys that helped me to get as a human being and a player to where I’m at.
“I was really sad. I still remember the day he got traded, and so he brings some memories back and I’m really excited to have him back, obviously, just like the whole city is.”
Glad to be back
Danton Heinen returned to Boston after spending the last three-plus seasons in Anaheim and Pittsburgh. Originally a fourth-round Bruins pick in 2014, the left wing was dealt to the Ducks (for Nick Ritchie) in 2020.
“It caught me off-guard a little bit, but that’s the nature of the beast,’’ said Heinen, who was on the ice doing sprints with Charlie McAvoy before the practice. “Those things happen, and I loved my time here, but it is what it is and no hard feelings and I’m happy to be back and push for a spot.”
Heinen, who is here on a professional tryout, put up 26 goals and 55 points over the last two seasons with the Penguins and said he has “nothing but good things to say about that organization.”
He said his message from Bruins general manager Don Sweeney was simply to come in and compete.
“Try to win your battles and go from there,” said Heinen, who played for Jim Montgomery at the University of Denver. “I know they’re fair here. They put the best team on the ice, so it’s my job to try to be part of that group.”
The Bruins announced several changes to their hockey operations staff, most notably naming John McLean an assistant coach. McLean, who ran the captains’ practices, was a skills and skating consultant for the club last season. McLean led Malden Catholic to four Super 8 titles in five years, the last coming in 2015. In addition, Derek MacKinnon was named pro scout; Milan Jurcina was added as a European scout; Dan Darrow was named assistant video coordinator; Josh Pohlkamp-Hartt is the new associate director of hockey analytics; and Campbell Weaver will assume the role of director of hockey systems.