There is an old and familiar expression that says, “You can’t go home again.” Josh Manson of the Anaheim Ducks does not necessarily find that to be the case.
The former Northeastern University defenseman will return to Boston’s TD Garden tonight to face off against the Bruins, a team he watched from the stands during the course of his collegiate career.
“Every once in a while, I checked out a game,” Manson said after the Ducks morning skate in Boston. “I’m familiar with this place (TD Garden). (I) played three years (at Northeastern) and enjoyed every year. It’s nice to be back.”
“It feels great. going out on the rink, looking around, just realizing where I was (Northeastern) and where I am (NHL) and the steps that it took to get here and, obviously, playing here in the Beanpot (tournament) and the atmosphere that was there and thinking how it’s going to be tonight. Maybe feel a little comfortable playing here, even as my first NHL game (at TD Garden) just being in the rink. I’m excited to be back in the city, seeing some old teammates.”
Manson was drafted by Anaheim in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft (6th round, 160th overall) and quickly earned the reputation as the consummate defensive defenseman while patrolling the blue line in Hockey East.
He played 99 career games with the Huskies and registered six goals and fifteen assists totaling twenty-one points before signing with the Ducks in 2014 after his junior year at Northeastern.
After leaving NU, the big (6-foot-3, 215 pounds) rearguard saw action in 45 games with Anaheim’s American Hockey League affiliate, Norfolk, where he learned the pro game before becoming a mainstay for Anaheim.
The 24-year-old blueliner has contributed seven points on two goals and five assists in sixty-four NHL career games.
This season, he is averaging 18:20 Time On Ice per game, which is the eighth highest on his team.
Tonight, for the first time in Boston, Manson will play in an NHL game in front of old teammates and friends.
“A few of them said they were going to come out,” Manson said with a hint of excitement in his voice. “It’ll be good to see them. I met up with them already this week because we got in early so that was nice and we were able to catch up.”
One would think with three years of Hockey East and Beanpot tournament action under his belt at TD Garden, playing in Boston would be old hat for the native of Hinsdale, Illinois.
“A little more of a comfort level,” cautioned Manson. “As I always say, you can’t get too comfortable in the NHL.”