When he finally had a chance to look back and reflect on what he accomplished last spring, Chris Kreider didn’t focus on the goals he scored, or the sudden stardom that enveloped him as the fresh-out-of-Boston-College rookie helped the New York Rangers reach the Eastern Conference finals.
What Kreider chose to focus on was how he took it all in.
“I liked that I didn’t buckle under any adversity. I was able to stay mild mannered and controlled what I could control,” said the 21-year-old Boxford native, recalling the whirlwind tour that took him from winning his second NCAA title in three years with Boston College smack dab into the heart of the NHL playoffs with the Rangers.
“I liked that I listened and I learned. There was so much I was able to learn from that entire experience.”
Kreider has taken those lessons with him to the American Hockey League, where he’ll begin his first full professional season as a member of the Connecticut Whale.
After scoring five goals — more than any other player in league history who had never previously played an NHL game — and seven points in 18 playoff games, it’s a virtual certainty Kreider would have broken camp with New York had the NHL not locked out its players.
Fortunately for the 6-foot-3, 225-pound winger, he’s eligible to play in the AHL and further his development for as long as the NHL lockout lasts.
“I’m excited to be able to play professional hockey,” said Kreider, who had a penalty shot goal to highlight the Whale’s practice yesterday. “The AHL is the best league when the NHL isn’t around. It’s a great opportunity.
“I think the message that is generally said in this organization is one I really like: ‘You get what you earn.’ I truly believe that.”