Commentary

Seguin, Horton ready to get to work

Draft pick and veteran both eager to earn their Bruins roster spots

Updated: June 30, 2010, 10:40 AM ET
By Joe McDonald | ESPNBoston.com

BOSTON -- While growing up and playing junior hockey, Tyler Seguin wore No. 9. That number is unavailable to the newest Boston Bruins player because it hangs from the rafters at the TD Garden with Johnny Bucyk's name on it.

Bucyk, the former Bruins captain, legend and Hall of Famer, joked a few years ago that he would allow a player to wear his retired No. 9 as long as that player gave him his signing bonus.

Seguin will wear No. 19 for the Bruins.

[+] EnlargeTyler Seguin
AP Photo/Winslow TownsonTyler Seguin traded in his Bruins sweater for a Red Sox jersey, throwing out the first pitch Tuesday night at Fenway Park.

It's the first time a player has worn that number in Boston since the organization traded Joe Thornton to San Jose during the 2005-06 season. Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli is not trying to make a statement by giving Seguin that number. Seguin wants that number because of the player he idolized when growing up.

It's not Thornton.

"I've always idolized Steve Yzerman and he was No. 19, so I've always liked 19 and thought it was best suitable," Seguin said. "I just want to come in and earn my spot."

Of course, the chatter around these parts will focus on Seguin as the next franchise player and will compare him to Thornton.

"That's OK," Seguin said. "Obviously I still have to make the NHL club, and if you want to compare me to guys like that, I would be thrilled."

After Thornton was selected as the No. 1 overall pick by the Bruins in the 1997 draft, the team gave him No. 6. He eventually switched to No. 19 because he didn't like his original number.

Seguin wasn't the only newcomer to receive his sweater during a late-morning news conference at TD Garden on Tuesday, as Nathan Horton, who came to Boston via a trade with Florida last week, was also introduced. He will wear No. 18 for the Bruins.

By now, Bruins fans should know all there is to know about Seguin because of his draft status and hype. Even though it's likely, there's no guarantee he'll make the team out of camp in September as he continues to develop and hone his skills.

Horton, on the other hand, should have an immediate impact.

Chiarelli admitted Tuesday morning that he'd been trying to acquire Horton for the past two and a half seasons. Now that he's here, it could be a perfect match for both.

Horton, who was selected by the Panthers as the No. 3 overall pick in 2003, said he is very excited about his opportunity to play for an Original Six club.

"I feel like I just got drafted," he said.

[+] EnlargeNathan Hornton
Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI/Getty ImagesNathan Horton says he's eager to play "in a hockey market where fans don't accept losing."

Horton said he felt it was time for a change, and his excitement is evident when he talks about playing in Boston.

"I couldn't be more happier and more thrilled to be here and be part of the Bruins organization," he said. "It's exciting for me, and hopefully I can be a small piece to the puzzle to help win a Stanley Cup." In six professional seasons in Florida, Horton recorded 142 goals and 153 assists for 295 points in 422 games for the Panthers. It became increasingly difficult for him to play for a perennial loser.

"Truthfully, some nights it's hard," Horton said. "It's not easy, and that's why I'm very excited to be here. I understand and I'm willing to work hard, and I'm very excited to be in a hockey market where fans don't accept losing. It's been tough for me in Florida with five coaches and five GMs and not knowing what direction I'm going. It's very exciting for me to be here and be a part of it."

When the Bruins announced the trade last week that included their No. 15 overall pick and defenseman Dennis Wideman, Horton conducted a conference call and said he wants to experience what it's like to play in the postseason. "It's a dream come true to come to such a stable, successful and historical organization," Horton said. "I couldn't be more excited. I'm nervous and can't wait to start. I'm proud to be a Boston Bruin and be a part of the Bruins family."

The newest pair of Bruins spent the afternoon participating in a youth hockey clinic, and both were scheduled to throw out the ceremonial first pitch before the Rays-Red Sox game Tuesday night at Fenway Park. "It's amazing," Seguin said Boston. "I've been here once before, and I thought it was a phenomenal place."

Joe McDonald covers the Bruins and Red Sox for ESPNBoston.com.

Joe McDonald

Reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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