The Colorado Avalanche came to town on Thursday night and that occasion always makes Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk thankful.

It didn’t have a happy ending for the Black and Gold as they dropped a 2-0 game to the Avs on the strength of a 39-save performance from the ageless Jean-Sebastien Giguere but the Colorado/Boston story has crafted a happy ending for Boychuk. The 29-year-old defenseman was traded to Boston from Colorado at the crossroads of his career as a player that was just about ready to give up on his dreams of being an NHL player.

“I was a year away from going to Europe when that trade happened” said Boychuk who was dealt to Boston in exchange for gritty Nashville Predators forward Matt Hendricks. “I had definitely already had the conversation with my agent and there was some interest in places like Switzerland. It was at a point where I had to start thinking if I wanted to try to hang around the AHL for ten years or maybe start doing something else as a career.”

What would Boychuk have done if his hockey career had ended after a couple of years banking some dough while playing in Europe?

“I’d probably have been working on an oil rig out in Edmonton somewhere” said Boychuk. “That’s the line of work the Boychuk family is in. That’s what my brothers Sam and Dave do for a living now.”

Those are the same Boychuk brothers that routinely proudly tweet about their baby brother on Twitter and never miss any Bruins games where a Johnny Rocket might just light up the lamp.

The situation speaks to just how much some NHL players need things to align for them in order to get their shot. Sometimes it’s a positional logjam or a coach’s system just not vibing with a certain style of player. There are dozens of players in the AHL right now just like Boychuk: capable of flourishing and excelling at the NHL if given a shot in a different organization but locked into one team either unwilling to give up on a draft pick or happy with their stockpiled depth at a certain position.