Many hockey players and fans who live in New England remember the name Bobby Allen. A local kid (Hull, MA), Allen is among a long line of locals over the years who had the privledge of playing for Jerry York at Boston College, where he won a National Championship in 2001. For a lot of the Division I college players, that's the crown jewel in their hockey careers. Making it to the NHL is a hard road to hoe. Some do end up with solid careers in competitive and excellent leagues like the AHL, ECHL or over in Europe. A select few, like Bobby Allen, get drafted into the NHL. A subset of those drafted guys get to actually fulfill their dream and play NHL games. Bobby is one of them. While his career was cut short by injury, Bobby tasted the life of an NHL player with the Edmonton Oilers and played his last NHL games in the 2007-08 season as a member of the team he grew up rooting for, the Boston Bruins.
We caught up with Bobby recently and had this chat below. Bobby is now a regular in our stores because his little boy is just starting his career, so we talked about that, dealing with early retirement and the excitement around playing for the local, iconic organizations. Here we go....
During your career, you played for two iconic organizations in New England – Boston College and then in the NHL with the Bruins. Since you are born and raised in Massachusetts, obviously there's some fond memories there, but is it possible to even put into words how you felt before your first game with each of those teams? Must have been so wild!
We are fortunate to live in a place where great hockey is so prevalent. Like any other kid growing up, I idolized the Bruins, and in this town it seems like you grow up rooting for either BC or BU. I always cheered for maroon and gold. My first games for both teams were very special. It was always a dream to play college hockey - to represent such a historic program like BC was a privilege. My first game with the B's was just as special. You can't put into words putting on the Bruins jersey, it was really almost surreal. Being able to play for that organization was one of the greatest thrills of my life.
2. What do you remember most clearly about your very first NHL game as a member of the Edmonton Oilers?
My first game with the Oilers was a day I'll never forget. I remember the dressing room in Dallas, taking warm ups, the preparation and my first shift. I was probably gripping the stick a little tighter that day! Even though I didn't play that much, I'll always remember that day fondly, as it was the culmination of many years of hard work
3. After you stopped playing, what kind of adjustment was it for you mentally and/or physically? You always hear about players who do – and don't - adjust well to post-career life. How was it for you?
When I had to stop playing because of the lingering back issues that affected me my last year with the Bruins, it was devastating. I still miss playing. That was a very hard thing to wrap my head around. I had been a hockey player my entire life then all of a sudden it was over. So it definitely took me some time to adjust. I was fortunate that my parents always stressed the importance of an education, and that helped me in my transition to the business world. I have been trying to utilize some of the core values that I learned while playing in being successful in my new line of work. It's an ongoing process but I have welcomed this new chapter in my life.
4. As a gear shop, we have to ask a gear question or two – how picky were you about your gear? Was there one thing specifically that you were really into?
For my hockey gear, I wasn't really too picky. I did love trying new things. When a rep came by, you can guarantee that I was over there trying something on or using a sample. The one thing I was crazy about was my stick. My curve and more importantly, my lie, had to be perfect or I could notice it. So my sticks were the things I was always tinkering with.
5. Do you still play today? If so, are you still using your old gear from your playing days or do you keep updated?
With my back being what it is, I don't get to play as often as I'd like. I get out there every now and then and have a blast when I do. I am involved in coaching both youth and high school hockey, so I am on the ice all the time, just not always in full gear. I have the same stuff that I had when I stopped playing, and I don't see any updates in the future. Though I may need a new pair of skates, don't tell my wife....
6. What was the last thing you laughed really hard at?
The last thing I laughed really hard at was anything that my two kids (Quinn and Caroline) do. They are all the comedy that I need in my life.
7. What is your favorite hockey memory or most memorable goal?
My favorite hockey memory was a toss up between winning the National Championship at BC and my first home game with the Bruins against Buffalo. I'll never forget my family waiting for me in the tunnel after the game at the Garden and the looks on my parents faces. That was about the greatest thrill you could have!
8. You mentioned that you have your own child skating now. Talk about how that feels for you!
My son Quinn (4) is starting to play this year. I am so excited that he enjoys it so much. Needless to say, hockey is and has been a huge part of my life, and I look forward to many years of sharing the joy and passion I have for the sport with him. Hopefully he's a better player than his dad!
We're pretty sure Quinn is already off to a good start with those bloodlines! Many thanks to Bobby Allen for taking the time to chat with us! Stick around for more interviews, gear reviews and other fun stuff.