Maybe this is ye olde motivational tactic from GM Peter Chiarelli and coach Claude Julien, given that Tyler Seguin's(notes) first meeting with Phil Kessel(notes) and the Toronto Maple Leafs is Thursday night. Or maybe there's a bit of wait-and-see on Seguin as an NHL player this season, as decision time is nearly here for keeping him or returning him to junior hockey.
Via James Murphy of ESPN Boston, here's Chiarelli from a Team 990 interview on Tuesday:
"He's got things to learn -- you guys know how Claude Julien coaches, he prides himself on defensive side of the puck -- so Tyler has things to learn there and he's getting better at them and he's doing everything right now that he has to to stay for the year," Chiarelli said. "We're able to put him on a third line and that insulates him a little bit, and at the same time he gets some power-play time, which is good for the confidence. Right now he's doing everything he has to do to remain for the year. We haven't made that decision yet, but we're close to making it."
Kevin Paul Dupont of the Boston Globe thinks there are good reasons to send Seguin back to the OHL's Plymouth Whalers. Like the fact he could play about seven minutes more per game than he will in the NHL this season, as his ice time could decrease with the Bruins when Marco Sturm(notes) and Marc Savard(notes) return. Plus, there are financial considerations, as Seguin's base salary of $900,000 could balloon to $2.6 million if he hits his bonus incentives.
Seguin has been a plus on the power play, and simply needs to better learn his defensive responsibilities before he begins earning more ice time as a top-six center in the NHL. It's extremely doubtful Seguin has anything to worry about in terms of going back to juniors, but nobody is showing any of their cards quite yet. The B's must make the decision prior to the Nov. 5 road game against the Washington Capitals.
"It's not my decision to make. He hasn't shown me any reason why [he should be sent to junior] right now. We still have some games left and some issues to look at, but that's where upper management takes over," said Julien. "I rack my brain with line combinations and they can rack their brains with the other decisions."
Seguin has three points in six games, including one goal. He's playing to a minus-2 and is averaging 13:25 time on ice per game. Prediction: He stays, moves to wing when the Bruins get healthy and questions about his defensive liability lessen as his numbers increase.
Meanwhile, DJ Bean asked Seguin about facing his hometown Leafs and Kessel for the first time:
"I guess I'm their enemy," Seguin said with a laugh. "I don't know if I'm still a hometown local guy that's liked pretty well." [...]
"I think it is a little bit too early right now to just do that," Seguin said. "Phil's much older. He's already on the top line. He's already earned his stripes, and I'm just a guy who's what, six games into my career? It's a little bit different."
And yet, if Seguin outscores Kessel on Thursday ...