Michael Hutchinson: the comeback kid

Two years ago, Hutchinson was kicked to the curb by the Bruins; today, the Jets are counting on him to beat his old club


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BOSTON -- It was Turkey Day and Beantown was laying low. The streets were quiet -- the cabbies were cursing the lack of business, even on Thanksgiving -- and only a few joggers worked their way along the paths that snake along the Charles River.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 28/11/2014 (2992 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

BOSTON — It was Turkey Day and Beantown was laying low. The streets were quiet — the cabbies were cursing the lack of business, even on Thanksgiving — and only a few joggers worked their way along the paths that snake along the Charles River.

About 10 minutes west of TD Garden, where the Winnipeg Jets and Boston Bruins will meet tonight, a handful of visiting players had just finished skating at Agganis Arena — home of Jack Eichel and the Terriers — on the campus of Boston University.

One of them was Michael Hutchinson, the Jets goaltender expected to start against the team that drafted him in the third round (77th overall) in 2008… and then bodychecked him to the curb at age 23.

TREVOR HAGAN/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS files Two years ago, Michael Hutchinson was kicked to the curb by the Bruins. Today, the Jets are counting on him to beat his old club.

“I ended up going to the draft that year because it was in Ottawa and close to my hometown,” said Hutchinson, a native of Barrie, Ont., Thursday. “I was daydreaming — draft day gets a little long — and so I didn’t even realize my name was called. My parents all of a sudden stood up and I had to look at the draft board to see who had drafted me.

“I wasn’t expecting Boston at all, but I was really excited to be drafted.”

Now, before we continue, a little context is needed here. One of the first things you realize spending even just a few minutes with Hutchinson is the dude just never stops smiling. He was grinning — and dripping with sweat — after the optional practice at BU that featured just five skaters, including Mathieu Perreault, Chris Thorburn, Anthony Peluso, T.J. Galiardi and assistant coaches Charlie Huddy and Pascal Vincent.

And so, if he’s bitter, twisted and stoked with rage to find some sort of retribution against the Bruins on Friday, he sure as heck hid it well.

Instead, Hutchinson spent most of his chat with the media fondly reminiscing about his brief days in the Bruins organization — he played in 87 games over three years with Providence before his release — and the goaltender who influenced him, Tuukka Rask.

“I remember the development camps and training camps and all the time you spend in the city,” said Hutchinson. “It’s nice to be back. I’m a little bit familiar with this city… it’s one of those things that motivates you if you do get that game to just work even harder to try and get that win.

“Watching Tuukka, you see how hard he practises. He rarely gets scored on practice. When I first came to Boston’s training camps I thought I was working hard until I saw Tuukka skating and I realized you can work that much harder. Seeing him and the way he plays… he’s an amazing goalie and it’s really hard to replicate everything he does. He’s one of the best of the league. I just tried to replicated his work ethic.”

Interestingly, that’s one of the first things that pops up in any conversation about Hutchinson — his monk-like dedication to his craft. Undoubtedly that partly comes from being around Rask, but also from the hard slap across the mug that was being cast aside by the Bruins and then finding life again with the Jets.

Yes, the road to the NHL can be especially bumpy for some. And for others, like Hutchinson, it’s featured more potholes than St. James Street in April.

“It was a little bit frustrating,” said Hutchinson of the way things ended with the Bruins. “You always want to play for the organization that drafts you but the reality is not many players get the chance to play for the same organization their whole career.

“It ended up being the best thing that happened to me, them letting me go. I was able to sign in Winnipeg and find a place here so I’m thankful that Boston gave me the opportunity to see what else is out there.

“I learned never to take anything for granted. Three years here… I kinda look back and think about things I could have done differently to make a different impression or to get a better opportunity. When a team doesn’t re-sign you… I went into free agency and it wasn’t exactly what I thought it would be. You really realize what you have and not to take any day for granted at all.”

FYI, Hutchinson has already beaten his old club: His first win as a Jet last April 10 came against the Bruins in Winnipeg. So maybe that angle has lost a little oomph, even if this is his first visit to Massachusetts as a Jet. What isn’t stale, however, is Hutchinson’s compelling tale.

And maybe another chapter gets written tonight.

“I still have my (Bruins) draft jersey at home,” said Hutchinson. “Other than that, I wasn’t fortunate enough to play a game for Boston so I don’t have too much stuff that’s Boston Bruins.

“As soon as I signed with Winnipeg my parents restocked the house with Winnipeg Jets stuff pretty quick.”

Hutchinson grinned here, wiped the sweat from his face and added:

“See you guys tomorrow.”



Twitter: @WFPEdTait


Updated on Friday, November 28, 2014 7:01 AM CST: Changes headline, changes photo

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