New England Roots: Tommy Cross

WILMINGTON, Mass. -- In years past, Tommy Cross has limped his way through Bruins Development Camp. But now healthy, the defenseman and Simsbury, Conn. native is showing the talents that made him a second-round draft choice of the Spoked-B back in 2007. Paired with last month's top draft choice Dougie Hamilton during scrimmages, the 6-foot-3, 210-pound Cross used his combination of size and strength to his advantage, while showing his skating ability in joining the rush.

But moreover, it's his leadership skills at the five-day prospects camp, which concluded last Monday at Ristuccia Arena, that had the front office buzzing. And the journey has been unique since being named the Hartford Courant's Connecticut Player of the Year as a sophomore at Simsbury (Conn.) High in 2006. He subsequently transferred to nearby Westminster School, and pulled double-duty with the U.S. Under-18 National Team and the USHL's Ohio Junior Blue Jackets. Now with Boston College, where he helped the Eagles win a national title in 2010, Cross will be a captain next season.

Following an on-ice workout last weekend at Ristuccia, Cross sat down with ESPNBoston.com to discuss his journey.

Q: Going from Simsbury to the prep school ranks, what was the biggest adjustment you had to make?

A: "The biggest adjustment I had to make was not even with hockey. It was more just going from school to school, different lifestyle. But I mean hockey-wise, I think the players are just older at prep school, there's some P.G.'s (post-graduates) and older seniors with more experience. That was about it."

Q: What kind of goals did you set for yourself going into high school?

A: "I just wanted to be a good player for my team. In high school it was just kinda, that's when I started to develop. I just wanted to get up on the rush, and be one of the best defensemen on my team, and one of the best defensemen in the state."

Q: When did you first start playing hockey, and who did you look after growing up?

A: "I was about three or four years old, in the backyard. Bourque, Lidstrom, guys like that. Willie Mitchell, because I watched him a lot when he was in college. My dad was a defenseman, so mostly players like that."

Q: What's it like playing for a coach like Jerry York?

A: "I love it. He's a great guy, great coach and he's fun to play for. He's demanding, but he's honest, and you know what you have to give. It's a fun place to play."

Q: Best high school game you played?

A: "Probably my sophomore year at West Haven. I had a shorthanded goal that kinda turned the game around. Our coach took a bench minor, then I scored a shorthanded goal, so I bailed him out. I think we won 5-4."

Q: What do you do when you're back home?

A: "Just hang out at my house, by the pool, I go to the golf course a lot, and the weight room. I like to play a lot of golf, but I'm not a scratch (laughs)."

Q: This is your fourth time in Development Camp, how has it differed from your first experience?

A: "Completely different experiences. You know, the first one you're young, you don't know what to expect. Now, you kinda know the routine, you know the schedule, you know a lot of the staff, trainers, coaches, so you're a little more comfortable."

Q: Tell me about your experience playing with Dougie Hamilton this week.

A: "It's been great. Obviously, he's a real good player, first rounder this year, and a young guy, but he's real mature for his age. We're roommates this week too, so we got to know each other pretty well. It's been fun to get to know him, he's a good guy and obviously a real good player."

Q: There has been a lot of talk this week about your leadership qualities with this group. What have you learned over the years in that department that you apply now?

A: "Yeah people have talked about it, and it's just leading by example, I think. If guys follow you, they follow you, and if they don't, they follow someone else. It's just kinda natural. I think I've been around a lot of good leaders, guys at Boston College that I learned a lot from like Ben Smith and Matt Lombardi. Those are the kinds of guys you can learn from and emulate them, you see how guys follow them. You want to give a good example, so that guys will follow you."