BOSTON -- Devils forward and former Bruin Brian Rolston says he always loves coming back to Boston, where he spent four-plus seasons with the Bruins from 2000-2004.
“It was a great time here,” Rolston said after his team’s skate Monday prior to its game with the Bruins. “I have so much respect for the organization and the fans here and have nothing but fond memories of my time here."
Rolston was part of two very promising Bruins squads that had Stanley Cup aspirations only to see them crushed by the team’s archrival, the Montreal Canadiens. In 2001-02, Rolston scored 31 goals to help lead Boston to first overall in the Eastern Conference regular-season standings. But the eighth-seeded Habs upset the Bruins in six games in the opening round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Then in 2003-04, after the Bruins made some big trade-deadline acquisitions, landing Michael Nylander and Sergei Gonchar, and with then-captain Joe Thornton coming into his prime, Boston finished second in the East but once again fell to the Canadiens in seven games after blowing a 3-1 series lead.
“That was tough and I wish we could’ve done more with those teams,” Rolston recalled. “When you have a team as good as that 2004 team was -- and that’s probably one of, if not the most talented teams I’ve played on -- it’s hard not to look back and say what happened or what if? But it’s a fine line between being successful in the regular season and to be successful in the playoffs.”
Rolston was an unrestricted free agent following the 2003-04 season and after the lockout in 2004-05, he signed with the Minnesota Wild, where he scored 30 goals or more in three straight seasons before signing a four-year deal with the Devils in 2008.
Things haven’t gone as well for Rolston since then as he has only cracked the 20-goal plateau once. This season he already has missed 14 games with a sports hernia. That combined with his $5 million cap hit this season and next, along with the Devils’ salary cap issues, have made Rolston a regular on the rumor mill to be traded or demoted to Albany in the AHL. The Devils' horrid start (5-10-2 entering Monday's game) hasn’t helped matters either.
“It was difficult to watch and I just want to stay healthy and help the team,” Rolston said. “We’ve still got a lot of talent here when we’re healthy and hopefully we can turn it around.
“I feel like I can still produce the way I did here. But right now I’m just getting back into the lineup really after coming back from an injury, and I’m trying to get a feel for the room here and on the ice. I feel 100 percent now.”
As for the trade rumors surrounding him, Rolston’s dealt with that before and if a change of venue happens, he will deal with it like a pro.
“It goes with the business,” Rolston said. “It’s not my first time around and I’ve been traded before so I can deal with it. It probably weighs harder on the younger guys than on the veterans. I just block it out and just do my job. Whatever happens, happens. It’s out of my control.”