Mark Borowiecki was among the first of the Nashville Predators available after on-ice testing Thursday morning. The 33-year-old defender is starting his 3rd season with the Nashville Predators after spending the rest of his professional career with the Ottawa Senators. Borowiecki was in a jovial mood as he expressed his excitement about Ryan McDonagh joining the team, “It’s a great pick up for us. Ryan’s a guy who I obviously respect. I knew him back in his college days and I’ve heard nothing but good things about him. He’s a great player, obviously, very well respected around the league.” He was also excited about something else, “It’s nice that he’s a month older than me, so I don’t have that title (oldest on the team) anymore!”
Borowiecki also mentioned discussions he’s had with the coaching staff as the season approaches, “I had a good talk with the coaching staff. I know what I bring in and they know what I bring in. It’s never been a question my whole career and I think now, ‘How do I make myself valuable to an organization?’ It’s trying to be a good person and a good teammate.” While all of this seems like the typical talk you’d expect at the beginning of a new season, he also added this bit of information, “I’ve started a lot in my career and talked about being a good teammate. Talk is easy. It’s kind of time to walk the walk and be that way. That’s certainly going to be my approach this year.”
His last comment caught me a bit off guard. Borowiecki seems like someone who has always “walked the walk”, but it seems like he’s suggesting that his role on the team is shifting. Is it possible that Borowiecki is planning to take a step back from the expectation of starting every night? I’ve addressed the logjam of defenders on the team and speculated that Borowiecki would be part of a three-man rotation on the third pairing, but these comments almost seem like he’s expecting to be the 7th defender, ready to come into the line up in case another player isn’t able to start.
Of course, earlier, Borowiecki reflected on his veteran status and the way he views himself as a mentor on the team, “That’s a role I really relish. I really enjoy it. I’ve had the opportunity to establish myself in this league, and now there’s an opportunity for other guys to establish themselves in this league and I want to be there to support them and help them.”
One of those “other guys” is 25-year-old defender Jeremy Lauzon, who just signed a 4-year contract with the Predators. Lauzon was more than happy to talk about how Borowiecki has impacted him since joining the team, “He’s a good role model for me. We love to play hard and be physical and be hard to play against. He brings experience and he brings energy. We’re really fortunate to have him on the team.”
When discussing his goals for the season, Lauzon went on to say, “I have a chance to really set the tone here with my new contract and help the team win games. So, I want to try to get better every game.” It seems clear Lauzon expects to be a starter each night. When you take this with Borowiecki’s comments, it sounds like the veteran will ease into a role where he functions as a mentor, but is also ready to come in as the 7th defender when an injury or another circumstance deems it necessary.
If this is true, there’s no doubt that Borowiecki would bring the intensity he’s known for to any on-ice appearance. However, rest assured the guys that will step in in his place for the Predators will have his influence all over their game.
–featured image via Christopher Hanewinckel/USA Today Sports–