BUFFALO – The benefits of sitting an 18-year-old rookie are many, Claude Julien said this morning. The Boston Bruins coach sat slick winger Tyler Seguin, his teenage phenom, occasionally two years ago.
The Sabres plan to sit Mikhail Grigorenko, their 18-year-old freshman, at times this season, a tactic coach Lindy Ruff believes will benefit his top prospect’s development. Ruff scratched the Russian on Sunday against Boston.
Seguin played 74 games in 2010-11 before watching 18 of the 25 playoff contests, including the first two rounds, during the Bruins’ Stanley Cup run.
He responded with three goals in the Eastern Conference final and 29 goals and 67 points last season.
“I think one of the (things) is for them to understand what you’re trying to do,” Julien said about the youngsters. “If a player accepts it easily, you’re disappointed. But you don’t expect him to whine about it and sulk about it. But I think when it’s, I guess, introduced properly and explained properly, I think there’s a lot of benefits to it.
“I think the guys that we’ve done with that in the past have really grown from that. You don’t like sitting out, so what does that do? It builds character. Yeah, you’re angry inside, but you watch the game from up top and you see what’s going on and it certainly clarifies a lot of things. I know for a fact a lot of players have said it’s done them good to watch from the top and see a little more what’s going on.
“It’s worked for us. We feel confident that sometimes patience and then sitting guys out for the right reasons has helped a guy develop the proper way.”
Ruff said this about sitting Grigorenko, who should play tonight, on Sunday: “There’s times he’s going to get good ice time, there’s times where if he’s going well he’ll get more ice time,” Ruff said. “Where you look at early in the game (Saturday), the handling of the puck, he made some choices I’d like to improve. I didn’t like the way some of the players above him were playing, so I put him in a situation where he’d get more.
“His ice time’s going to vary. There’s going to be games where he plays. There’s going to be games where he doesn’t play. There’s going to be games where he plays a lot. There’s days where we really want to work hard on some parts of his game.”