Boston Bruins forward Austin Czarnik is getting another chance to prove he can play in the NHL. He’s going to do everything he can not to squander it.
Austin Czarnik doesn’t look like a hockey player. At just 5’9″ and 160 lbs, Czarnik looks like he’d fit in more on a soccer field than an ice rink. He’s had to work extremely hard just to prove he can compete with other players. Even then, hard work wouldn’t be enough to make a team.
“For me it was hard coming up. I was cut from pretty much every Triple-A team pretty much because I was too small,” shared Czarnik with the Boston Herald. “It’s been a hard process for me. I always had just one person who’s believed in me and that’s how I’ve gotten through my whole career pretty much.
“[The Bruins] believe in me right now and I’m looking forward to the opportunity to show what I have again. I think now, I’ve played simple so much this year, I can’t start to try to make plays and realize what plays I have to make and not just try to get the puck in. I’m going to try and create space for my linemates.”
More from Bruins News
- Bruins release Prospects Challenge roster, schedule Tuesday
- Bruins bringing back familiar forward on tryout contract
- The Bruins should take a look at these four free agents
- NHL Network lists Ullmark as sixth-best goalie in the league
- The Lasting Legacy of David Krejci
Thankfully, the Boston Bruins don’t seem to have a problem with smaller players with great hockey IQs. Torey Krug is on track to have a 50-point season this year. Then there is that ‘Little Ball of Hate’ that has already hit the 70-point mark this season, and he’s in the running for the Hart Trophy. So, if the B’s are ok with Brad Marchand and Krug, they could certainly find a place for Czarnik.
Czarnik has had an up-and-down year with the Black and Gold. He put up 13 points (five goals) in 42 games before getting injured in a game against the Toronto Maple Leafs on February 4 (the same game that led the Bruins organization letting Claude Julien go). The B’s put him on injured reserve, and then got sent back to Providence for a re-conditioning run.
His odds of getting back into the Boston roster were 50/50 at best. The B’s are pretty heavy in the center position. With Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, and Ryan Spooner as the top three centers for Boston, Czarnik had to settle for an off-wing position and hope for the best.
Then he caught a break. Ryan Spooner was taken out of the lineup due to a concussion sustained in the game against Ottawa. With Spooner out for a few games, it gives the 24-year old forward a chance to prove he can make a difference as part of the bottom-six forwards in Boston.
Interim Head Coach Bruce Cassidy certainly believes in Czarnik’s potential. Cassidy got to work with him in Providence when he was the AHL bench boss. Now that he’s the head coach in Boston, he’ll be better able to further his development.
Cassidy talked about Czarnik’s game and how it’s developed from his time in Providence.
“His understanding of the game is better,” said the B’s bench boss about Czarnik. “He’s playing against men. In the American league, he’s playing against big guys and energetic guys, but they’re not men yet and as a smaller guy he’s had to learn what he can get away with and what he can’t. So this time around we’re going to find out what he’s learned in that area. But like a lot of guys, it’s about getting reps playing with and against top end, world-class talent. And he’s a smart guy. He’s got good hockey IQ and he thinks the game well. It has to be one of his best assets.”
Czarnik put up a single hit in his 15:47 of ice time. While he didn’t put up any points for Boston, he didn’t make many mistakes in a the B’s 6-1 drubbing of the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday. He was even given time on the power play (1:16), and the penalty kill (1:45).
It’s clear that Cassidy has faith in Czarnik. Now Czarnik will do everything he can to validate that faith in him.