WILMINGTON — Given that Tyler Seguin made it to the NHL as a rookie, only two of three Bruins’ pieces of the Phil Kessel deal were present at the open of development camp at Ristuccia Arena on Thursday. While 2011 ninth overall pick Dougie Hamilton (the player chosen with the other first-round pick acquired in the trade) was surrounded by a large media scrum that lasted as long as the Bruins’ availability, Knight didn’t attract as much attention. This isn’t his first rodeo, so the getting-to-know-you stage of Knight’s relationship with the Bruins is a thing of the past.
The 32nd overall pick of the 2010 draft impressed in last year’s development camp and into the team’s training camp, the latter of which he was cut from on Sept. 24. After finishing the OHL season with 70 regular-season points (25 goals, 45 assists) and six more in the playoffs, Knight signed an amateur tryout agreement and played the final three of the games for Providence. He picked up a pair of assists in the AHL.
“Last year, I think I put a lot of pressure on myself,” Knight recalled Thursday. “I was a little nervous coming in. This year, I’m a little nervous, but not as nervous as last year. I kind of knew what to expect.”
Now, the fans that have packed the stands at Ristuccia are a familiar sight. Knight could certainly compete for an NHL this year, but knows that there’s a time for that, and that it isn’t over the five-day development camp. Assistant general manager Don Sweeney has cautioned the players about over-thinking things, telling them “the Bruins are here to learn about you, and you’re here to learn about the Bruins and how we do things.” Back for a second time, it’s a message Knight has listened to.
“For me, this is my second time coming in here, so I have a little more experience. Really in development camp, you just come in and you try to work hard and try to show your best,” Knight said. “Sweeney said ‘You’re not coming here to make the team, you’re coming to make a good impression.’ That’s what I’m going to do, just work my hardest and just play hard.”
With the retirement of Mark Recchi and the free agent departure of Michael Ryder to the Stars, the signing of Benoit Pouliot means there remains a forward spot open heading into next year. While it could, in theory, be filled by a potential return of Marc Savard, it also means one of the youngsters could seize it themselves. Jordan Caron figures to play more than the 23 games at the NHL level he played a season ago, and in the spirit of healthy competition, the Bruins would have to be pleased with a group of their prospects making cases to play in Boston.
THE BRIAN WILSON OBSESSION
While Steven Kampfer and Seguin are both on Twitter, there is no better tweeter in the Bruins’ organization than Knight (@JKnight97). Interestingly enough, though, Knight does not even use a picture of himself to represent his account. Instead, it’s a picture of San Francisco Giants closer Brian Wilson.
“I love Brian Wilson,” Knight said Thursday. “He’s a crazy guy. I love the way he pitches. Other than hockey players, he’s my favorite athlete. He’s pretty cool. He’s pretty weird. I watch some of his interviews. He’s kind of psycho.”
Knight’s idol doesn’t exactly come from far away, as Wilson hails from Londonderry, N.H. The Michigan native has yet to cross paths with Wilson, but perhaps with the notoriety of being an NHL player will come such an opportunity.
“I haven’t met him. That would be pretty cool to meet him,” Knight said. “That’s one thing I want to do, is meet him, because he’s just different than everyone else.”
Knight may be a big fan of Wilson’s, but he doesn’t seem willing to copy his look yet. Missing is the shoe-polish-colored beard on the clean-shaven 19-year-old.
“If I could grow a beard like him, I would grow something like that,” Knight said. “I can’t yet. Maybe one day.”