PROVIDENCE – Jesse Gabrielle was surprised and disappointed when he wasn’t invited to Boston Bruins rookie camp and training camp this year. Instead, the 21-year-old winger was told to report straight to Providence.
Was he given a reason?
“No, they didn’t tell me why. I got a text a couple of days before camp and they said be in Providence,’’ Gabrielle said.
When GM Don Sweeney was asked about Gabrielle’s status at the Prospects Challenge in Buffalo on Sept. 10, he alluded to the ankle injury that kept Gabrielle out of the Memorial Cup in the spring. “We’re going to have him start (in Providence),’’ Sweeney said.
While Gabrielle says he was good to go by the end of July — “I’ve been ready,” he said — he did as he was told, reporting to the P-Bruins for the first day of their camp at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center on Monday.
“Just do it. Smile. Say OK. Show up whenever they want me to,’’ he said after the first workout of P-Bruins’ camp at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center on Monday.
Boston’s fourth-round draft pick in 2015, Gabrielle is looking for a fresh start after a disappointing stint in Providence last season.
Gabrielle was effective in the Prospects Challenge in 2017 and, playing his agitating style, was noticeable in some preseason games with Boston. But with his confidence wavering after scoring once in 21 games with the P-Bruins, he was returned to the Western Hockey League in late December.
“I was extremely confident coming down to Providence. I thought I was ready to make the jump and play a lot, play good minutes, big minutes, but sometimes it just doesn’t work out that way,” he said.
“I had chances to put pucks in the net. They weren’t going in. It’s a tough situation to look back on. I thought I had a really good preseason in Boston and I came in with some expectations. It didn’t work out in my favor. That happened. It’s happened to me before.
“It’s something I needed to reflect on throughout the summer and come back with a different mentality this year, not put my confidence in anyone else but myself and be ready. I’ve got to be mentally tough and battle through adversity,” he said.
Providence coach Jay Leach likes Gabrielle’s speed on the forecheck and his feistiness.
“He’s one of those guys that lives on the edge a little bit. He’s probably most effective that way. It’s hard being that guy sometimes,” Leach said.
“We’re looking for him to be an up-and-down, power winger who can show a physical presence and also score goals, which he’s been able to do (in junior). He can skate, he can shoot.”
The kind of struggles Gabrielle went through last season aren’t uncommon for young players. An early bounce or two this season would help.
“You have scoring chances, you don’t bury them and it starts to fester a bit, it gets frustrating. He has the ability to get those scoring chances. If he buries them, he’s on his way,” Leach said.