Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy, 21, was born and raised in Long Beach, New York, and attended Boston University before being drafted in 2016 as the NHL’s 14th overall pick. He turned pro in 2017 after two seasons at BU, making his NHL debut in the Bruins’ first playoff game that year.
Jonathan Soroff: If you weren’t playing hockey, what would you be doing?
Charlie McAvoy: Well, if I’d still gone to college, I’d still be in college, maybe pursuing something in sports. But I come from a long line of plumbers—McAvoy Plumbing in Long Beach, Long Island—so maybe I’d be running jobs with my dad.
Favorite TD Garden snack? Well, unfortunately, I’ve dealt with a couple of injuries and had some unfortunate luck, but when you’re up on Level 9 and you’re watching the game, there’s some good popcorn to make you feel a little bit better.
Favorite place to go after a game? After a game, it’s tough, because a lot of things are closed. I’d say my favorite place to go if my family’s in town, or friends or old coaches, I usually take them to Ocean Prime in the Seaport. That’s my go-to spot. Noel Acciari took me there for New Year’s last year, and I met the manager, Nick Foley, and we have a good relationship. He always makes sure there’s a table with my name on it.
Something people would be surprised to learn about you? It’s mostly what you see is what you get. But I guess my odd talent for a hockey player is surfing. I grew up in a beach town on the South Shore of Long Island. My dad grew up surfing. That was his passion. He competed and he taught me. I spent a ton of time in the water.
NHL player you’d never want to get into a fight with? OK, now he’s on an opposing team, so I can say that I would never, ever advise anyone to—and I sure as heck won’t—drop the gloves with Adam McQuaid. He is far and away one of the best people I’ve ever met. I was truly blessed to get to play with him. It was a very sad day in the locker room when he was traded to New York. But he is as tough as they come. A switch just flips.
Messiest Bruin in the locker room? Jake DeBrusk.
Most stylish? That would be David Pastrnak.
Are all your teeth your own? Yeah. I have a couple of fillings from chipped teeth, but I can say that the root of all my teeth are my own.
Greatest player of all time? Greatest defenseman? Bobby Orr. Greatest forward? [Wayne] Gretzky. Greatest goalie? Probably [Patrick] Roy or [Martin] Brodeur.
Dream endorsement? Well, I grew up kinda liking all the Nike stuff, so maybe Nike. If I played basketball, maybe I’d have my own shoe. But with hockey, you don’t see a lot.
Weirdest fan encounter? At Bruins Summer Fest, where we go around visiting different New England cities, I was sitting there, and a couple just dropped their baby down right in front of me. The baby was like a week old—just newborn—and they were like, “Can you sign our baby?” I was like, “OK, right on.”
Boston Bruins star Charlie McAvoy on the cover of our Jan. 16, 2019 issue
When you’re playing, how aware are you of the crowd? Not that much. It’s just a part of growing and being a professional. If you sit around and think, “OK, I’m playing in front of 20,000 people tonight,” I can see that creating some performance anxiety. I don’t think about it at all. I do think the Bruins have amazing fans. They care so much and are so passionate about our success. And you definitely hear them when we score a goal or when Tuuks makes a save and they’re chanting, “Tuuuuuuks!” The Garden is a very special place to play.
Biggest indulgence? Well, the one that I remember most was the first expensive thing I bought. I went over to the World Championships. I was over in Germany. I took the train with my dad to Dusseldorf to go shopping, and I stumbled into Burberry and saw this awesome trench coat. I ended up buying it. To finally have a little money to buy nice things was cool. I wear it from time to time. It’s definitely my favorite.
Fill in the blank: Pro hockey players do it_____. I don’t know. Do it right? I think that pro hockey players are very reserved and humble. I think if you’re walking down the street with one of the superstar players on the Bruins, no one would notice. So hockey players do it with humility.
What would your 10-year-old self say if he saw you now? Oh, man. That was my dream. That was all I ever thought about and glorified was hockey and hockey players. So I think my 10-year-old self would be pretty happy right now. Relieved to know that after all that hard work, he’d be pretty excited to see how it all worked out.
Favorite way to spend the offseason? Being at the beach, no doubt. Going home and being with my family and friends. I’ve also been down to Duxbury beach with my girlfriend, who lives there. It’s a great beach and a beautiful town. If I’m done skating and done working out, you’ll find me on a beach somewhere, out on the water.
Favorite city to visit on the road? New York, when we play against the Rangers, because my family gets to come and visit me. Long Beach is maybe a 40-minute train ride on the Long Island Railroad.
Ever feel disloyal when you’re playing the Rangers? No. Not even a little. I’m a Bruin through and through, 100 percent. I couldn’t be more fortunate than to play for this team. I wouldn’t want to play for anyone else.
Any superstitions before you go out on the ice? Left to right. Left sock first, then right. Left skate, then right. Left elbow pad, then right. I don’t know when or where it started, but it’s just kind of what I do now. I don’t know why.
Worst team name in the NHL? Oh, you’re gonna get me in trouble. I’ll say, “Let’s see what they name Seattle.” We’ll put Seattle in the hot seat.
Player you’re closest to? Matt Grzelcyk. We were college teammates. He was my senior captain when I was a freshman. He broke the door down at the Bruins, and to have someone like that, a best friend who you play with in college and then on the same pro team, that’s pretty unique.
There are so many players in the league with unpronounceable names, where I just want to buy them a vowel. Any player whose name you can’t pronounce? There’s a couple, for sure. I’ll go with one of the Bruins. This summer, I went over to China with Urho Vaakanainen, and he won World Juniors with Finland but is coming back to the Bruins. Anyway, we were both injured together, and we spent maybe two, three weeks together, and I still don’t know how to pronounce it, so I just call him “Vaak.”
Least favorite piece of equipment? It’s gotta be skates. Tying your skates and then untying them is the most unpleasant thing.
Most unorthodox use you’ve ever made of a hockey stick? Oh, man. Outside of hockey, hockey sticks are so useful to have lying around. They’re always good when something gets stuck under the bed or up in the rafters. We play soccer in our little pregame warm-up area and there’s a ceiling gap where things get stuck. We always use a stick to get it down. So getting things off high shelves and stuff like that.
Can you figure skate? I never have.
Are you a golfer? I’m trying!
What is it with hockey players and golf? I know! That’s why I’m trying. My summers growing up, I spent them at the beach. Golf kinda seemed like a rich guy’s game, and I was kind of blue-collar. I actually got my first set of clubs this summer, because every hockey player plays. I definitely need to take some lessons to get the slice out of my game. But it’s one of those stereotypes that’s true. Go through any hockey team, you’re probably going to find that 95 percent of the guys play golf and love it.
Any Olympic dreams? No question. My goal is to be the best hockey player I can be, and to get better. Winning the Stanley Cup is my ultimate goal, but playing in the Olympics is definitely on the list. It would be a cherry on top.
What happens after hockey? Well, hopefully, that’s in a very, very, very long time. I love to play and I’ll play until I just physically can’t anymore. But I’ve given my word to the athletic director at Boston University that I’ll finish my degree, and I intend to honor that. So hopefully, I’ll have a degree in communications from BU, and maybe that will open up a door for broadcasting or some sort of analysis somewhere. It would be cool to stay in hockey. ◆
Photographer: J Heroun; Photo Assistant: Patrick Daly; Stylist: Robin Reilly/ Anchor Artists; Grooming: Lori Greene/ Ennis Inc.; Location: Warrior Ice Arena