BOSTON — After being selected by the fans for All-Star weekend this week, Bruins goalie Jeremy Swayman brought up his offseason arbitration hearing unprompted when in an answer about what the honor meant to him.

“Yeah, after dealing with what I did this summer with arbitration, hearing things that a player should never hear, it feels pretty special to be in this situation,” he said.

Underneath Swayman’s charming demeanor is a considerable competitive fire. That comment was simply the latest reminder.

Arbitration is a messy process. Teams have to diminish their players’ accomplishments to a neutral party in an attempt to pay them less money. The Bruins were especially motivated with Swayman, a former UMaine player, because of their salary cap issues.

Swayman, whom the arbitrator granted a one-year $3.475 million deal, seems both wounded and motivated by the process. His game has benefited even if his feelings were a little hurt. Hearing his previously nurturing employer attack his hockey flaws cost him some innocence. But he came out inspired on the other side.

Maybe his natural progression would have led him to be an All-Star this soon anyway. He has that kind of talent. But the added prodding stoked his fire.


“I’m grateful for what happened. I learned so much about the business side of things. It doesn’t matter what happens away from the rink. It’s all about what happens when you step through the doors every night. I’m very grateful to be in the position I’m in,” he said after Monday’s 3-0 win over the Devils.

“It was a great learning experience. I’m not going to lean on it. What’s happened is happened, I’m living in the present moment. It just goes back to the experience. I wouldn’t be the human being I am and the player I am if I didn’t go through it.”

The player he is, is playing really well right now. Against the New Jersey Devils, who came in fifth in the NHL in goals per game, Swayman stopped 30 shots in a shutout Monday to further legitimize the All-Star nod. It was the 25-year-old’s 12th career shutout. Only Tuukka Rask 13 and Frank Brimsek 22 had more before turning 26 for Boston.

While Swayman been playing like a No. 1 goalie all season the Bruins have had an even goalie split throughout the year between him and reigning Vezina trophy winner Linus Ullmark. But with Ullmark out with a lower-body injury, Swayman has started three straight games for the first time all season.

“I love the stuff I see every day from Sway,” Bruins forward David Pastrnak said. “He wants to get better every day. He’s not afraid of the challenge. He’s so confident in the right way. You can feel the confidence out of him.”

The much-publicized friendship between Swayman and Ullmark goes well beyond the goalie hugs. Swayman dressed up as Santa Claus for Ullmark’s kids on Christmas Eve. But that doesn’t make the goalie situation less competitive. Swayman doesn’t just want to be a No. 1 goalie, he wants to be an all-time great, a Hall of Famer.


Coach Jim Montgomery is enjoying watching Swayman’s pursuit.

“It’s nice to see him be able to have to opportunity. His makeup is someone that wants the net every night,” Montgomery said. “The swagger that he brings, it feels like he never gets tired. He’s in tremendous shape and tremendous condition. His mental attitude. His positivity that he exudes, it goes through our bench.”

Swayman was glad Montgomery noticed.

“I want people to know that. I want the net every night. I want my teammates to know that. I want my coaches to know,” he said. “That’s what I want this organization to know. I love being in net. That’s where I’m most comfortable. That’s what I’m born to do. Every opportunity I get, I don’t take it for granted. It’s what I’m born to do. I look forward to it every time.”

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