Move to Boston means excitement for Matt Beleskey

BOSTON -- Matt Beleskey entered the Boston Bruins' locker room at TD Garden on Tuesday and greeted a group of local media members: "Well, hello, new friends."

On July 1, the Bruins signed the 27-year-old free-agent forward to a five-year contract worth an annual cap figure of $3.8 million. With the trade of power forward Milan Lucic to the Los Angeles Kings, the Bruins will need Beleskey (and fellow newcomer Jimmy Hayes) to fill that void.

Beleskey arrived this week and toured the city with his wife. Hayes -- a native of Dorchester, Massachusetts -- and Beleskey attended a Boston Red Sox game Tuesday night at Fenway Park.

Beleskey spoke with ESPN.com about his new team, his first experience with free agency, playing in the minors, playing in Europe during the 2012-13 lockout, scoring the game-winning overtime goal in Game 5 of the Western Conference finals against the Chicago Blackhawks and what it feels like to get crosschecked by Bruins captain Zdeno Chara.

What will it be like for you to play for the Boston Bruins?

It's exciting. Coming to a great sports city like Boston, an Original Six team, is something you always dream of as a kid, and I'm just excited to be a part of it now.

What has it been like for you the past few days in Boston since you signed?

It's exciting. To come to a new city -- I've only been here twice, and me and my wife have been exploring the city the last few days. It's a great place. It has a lot of character, a lot of history and it's going to be a fun place to live in.

What are you hoping to add to the Bruins?

I'm going to bring my same game. I'm going to play that physical presence, go to the net hard, bang some dirty goals in, get my shots off and be a hardworking forward and be out there to do whatever it takes to win.

What was the free-agent process like for you?

It was interesting. It was a pretty stressful day, that's for sure. Free agency, July 1, there's a lot of stuff going on, a lot of decisions to be made. It was an interesting situation but it was fun. It was fun to be able to see teams show interest in you and want to pick you up. It was a good experience. It was tough leaving Anaheim. I had been there my whole career, but I think a new beginning is here and I'm ready for that.

What was the best part of the 2014-15 season for you?

It would have to be scoring in Game 5 in overtime. That was my first Stanley Cup playoff overtime goal, first NHL overtime goal, and that feeling is something that's tough to match.

How did playing in the minors and in Europe help your development?

It shows you what it takes. I played 60 games [in the NHL] my second pro year, and the next year I was kind of up and down. You play for a lot of different coaches. You've got guys like Randy Carlyle, who is extremely hard on a young guy, but years later now I'm looking back and thanking him for teaching me those small things that make a big difference now, so it's all part of the process. At the time, it's hard to go through, but I'm happy I've done it now.

What's one minor league story from your experience that stands out?

AHL minor league stories you hear about the bus trips and 12-hour rides overnight and practicing in the morning, but playing in England, that will give you a little taste of what it can be like when you drive seven hours to Scotland, play a game and drive back the same day. A couple of things like that make you work a little bit harder.

You're close with former Ducks teammate Nate Thompson, who began his pro career in the Bruins' organization. What did he tell you about what it's going to be like to play in Boston?

When [Anaheim played in Boston], he showed us around the city. He took us out for dinner. He took us to all the big spots. I talked to him about what it was like to be here in Boston. He only played four games here and he said it was amazing. He was a big part of telling me about the city. Maybe he didn't know I was going to end up here, but he's a great guy and a guy that I've learned things from as well.

I know you're excited to play with your new teammates, but who's the one Bruins player you're looking forward to playing with?

That's a tough one. There are a lot of guys. I'm really excited not to play against [Zdeno Chara] anymore. I think my back's still sore from his crosscheck the last time we played them. I'm excited to meet all the guys and get out there. I don't know where I'm going to fit in, or where they see me fitting in, but it's going to be exciting to be a part of.

Have you been to Fenway Park before?

I went once last year, but we're going again, and it's a good feeling.

What do you think the differences will be between playing in the Eastern Conference and the Western Conference?

The travel's going to be a lot better, that's for sure. It's interesting. The West is supposedly big teams grinding and a lot more hitting, so they say. But when we played the East teams, it doesn't feel like that, so it's going to be fun playing in different cities all the time. I'm looking forward to a little closer travel schedule and being able to sleep in my own bed.