Kalman: Pastrnak brings as many smiles to kids as he brings goals to Bruins

Matt Kalman
November 27, 2018 - 9:51 pm
Oct 30, 2018; Raleigh, NC, USA; Boston Bruins right wing David Pastrnak (88) looks on during the game against the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena. The Boston Bruins defeated the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

© James Guillory/USA TODAY Sports

When David Pastrnak woke up Tuesday he was tied for the NHL lead with 19 goals with Winnipeg sniper Patrik Laine.

Sometimes it seems like no one can stop Pastrnak at the offensive end of the rink.

But off the rink success can cost Pastrnak opportunities, like when he visits the kids at Children’s Hospital.

The kids appreciate him taking time out of his day to play with them, but no one wants the 22-year-old to dominate the games.

“First time I played Bingo ... I won it all. So I guess at Bingo they just let me to be a referee or whatever you call it,” Pastrnak admitted to WEEI.com Tuesday at the Champions for Children’s gala at Seaport World Trade Center.

Pastrnak was at the gala to receive the 2018 Champion Award in recognition of his volunteer work at Children’s Hospital. As his star power on the ice has increased – and he’s emerged as one of the premier scorers in the world – Pastrnak’s commitment to being an active citizen has proportionately increased.

So following in the footsteps of teammates Patrice Bergeron and Zdeno Chara (not to mention Marcus Smart of the Celtics and Rob Gronkowski of the Patriots), Pastrnak was given a token of appreciation from the hospital, even if he wanted to make it known that receiving a prize was the further thing from his mind when he started visiting the kids.

“It’s a 10-minute drive to the hospital, you know. And it makes the kids’ days when I go visit there,” he said. “So obviously it’s been a huge experience for me and from those kids. And I get to meet so many nice kids and it’s just awesome.

“I never go to visit hospitals to win some award. I’m doing it because I love kids. It’s great to make them happy and make them smile.”

Pastrnak’s not just popular with the fans and the kids. He’s beloved by his teammates, almost all of whom attended the gala despite having the day off after getting in late from Toronto on Monday. Bergeron, a Bruins alternate captain, said the event was optional but the Bruins, without consulting with each other, decided to show their support for Pastrnak.

“We all thought it was important,” Bergeron said. “We often say that cliché that we’re a family and all that, but we are. We’re a close team and I think it showed.”

Although he’s not the youngest player on the Bruins, in many ways he’s the kid of the family. Watch him playfully toss pucks into the stands or spin around on the ice during warmups, or play Connect Four with a kid at the gala, and you can see that Pastrnak doesn’t take himself too seriously.

It’s that childlike attitude that helps Pastrnak get through successful times and rough periods on the ice. It's not all fun and games though, for Pastrnak.

“I think as a person every day he comes ready to work, he’s willing to learn, wants to get better and we’re fortunate to have him,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said.

Pastrnak hasn’t rested on his laurels since making the NHL or signing a contract worth nearly $7 million per season. He’s challenging for the Rocket Richard Trophy now and maybe there will be an Art Ross Trophy or a Hart Trophy race in his future. And maybe the kids at Children’s will even start letting him play Bingo again.