CHARLOTTETOWN, Prince Edward Island — My understanding of the B’s Adam McQuaid was perfectly illustrated during a drive from Charlottetown to Cornwall on a blustery, rainy afternoon.
I asked the defenseman if his career had been enhanced by his upbringing on Prince Edward Island and he looked out the window of his truck, noticed farmers working out in the open on a nasty day and said, earnestly, with a slight shrug, “When you see these guys working in the fields on a rainy day, it makes it seem pretty easy to give 100% and leave it all on the ice.”
None of that exchange was surprising to these ears or eyes, but the setting of the statement just underlined the blueliner’s obvious love of this island and it’s population as well as McQuaid’s own desire to be true to his roots.
"I don’t do the touristy thing too much myself, but when people come here from away they’re always commenting on how beautiful everything is, how well everything’s kept up," said McQuaid. "It’s the birthplace of the confederation so there’s a lot of history here.
"I think people that are from here take pride in being from here and representing ourselves well. So I try and be welcoming to visitors when they’re here."
McQuaid always represents his home very well and he and his family were extraordinarily welcoming to a weary bostonbruinsTV crew invited into their home. But before we all sat down to a full turkey dinner with all the trimmings care of McQuaid’s mother Dianne, Adam made sure we got an eyeful of his hometown of Cornwall and the nearby city of Charlottetown.
"There’s a lot of history, a lot of neat little restaurants and boutiques and stuff," said McQuaid. "It’s a fairly laid back feeling and I’m pretty lucky that I train right downtown [in Charlottetown] so, most days, after a workout we look forward to picking a different spot to go for lunch.
"When you’re exhausted at the end of the day, it’s nice to go just relax and get a good meal."
It’s also nice to read a good book, and while I’m pretty sure Adam hasn’t picked up Anne of Green Gables too recently, he talked at length of the famous novel’s setting in and around his home.
"Lucy Maud Montgomery…she’s from the island and she wrote the book," he said. "It’s just a fictional book, but it’s funny - you get a lot of people that come to the island that want to see the exact locations that the book took place.
"It’s pretty well known around the world and something that a lot of people associate the island with."
Despite the storybook setting, P.E.I., thanks in large part to the modern architecture of Charlottetown mixed into a historic setting, also has a vibrant modern feel, too - a true testament to its people, who, like Adam McQuaid, seem very able to make an impact on the mainland, while keeping one foot firmly planted in the old fashioned, hard-working traditions of this island.
And even though McQuaid said he never felt as if he “shined” as a youth while playing on the island’s rinks, as Adam talked about his rigorous offseason workout routine, which includes almost daily off-ice, weight training and on-ice components, his own hardscrabble mentality shone through.
"Getting out to the track a couple times a week and then the gym and then getting on the ice - sometimes they can be long days," said McQuaid. "But it’s worth it when you come to camp and you’re ready to go."
From where I sit, Adam is always ready to go, and a new display at his old rink in Cornwall speaks volumes to visitors who wonder about his roots.
But McQuaid’s own reaction to seeing that commemoration for the first time said it all.
"You never expect something like this…"
Maybe, Adam. But it’s a safe bet that your friends and family on Prince Edward Island certainly did.