Jeremy Lauzon’s becoming a Bruins mainstay, thinking of brother's plight

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Last fall, Zachary Lauzon, a 2017 second-round draft pick of the Pittsburgh Penguins who was one month shy of his 21st birthday, retired from hockey before he played a single professional game.

The defenseman had sustained several concussions and couldn’t continue. It was a difficult decision but one that had to be made and one that his older brother Jeremy says Zachary is at peace with now.

So if you wonder why the 22-year-old Jeremy Lauzon, a Bruins defenseman, seems more appreciative of his opportunity than many of his peers, all you need to do is look at what unfolded with Zachary.

“Obviously I think my brother’s been through a lot and I was there to help, obviously he was talking to me a lot. Obviously when I look back at it, I think I’m lucky to be here and I think everyone’s lucky to be here, just to be able to play for a great team, play in the NHL,” Jeremy Lauzon told WEEI.com recently. “I think I’m grateful to be here and I think every morning when I wake up I try to remind myself that I’m lucky to be here, I’m lucky to play hockey in the best league in the world. So I think that helps my confidence just coming to the rink.”

Lauzon, a 2015 second-round pick by the Bruins, has endured a couple concussions of his own. He learned from watching his brother and others how to take ones time and how to deal with the uncertainty of such an injury. Zachary may have tried to come back too soon from one of his concussions.

Lauzon is healthy now and becoming a mainstay on Boston’s back end. Since he was called up from Providence of the AHL he’s played in 17 of Boston’s 19 games, missing just two for a suspension for an illegal check to the head. When he skates against Philadelphia on Tuesday, Lauzon will have been in the Boston lineup for 12 straight games.

It looks like he’s earned a regular spot in coach Bruce Cassidy’s defense corps.

“He’s holding his own pretty well,” Cassidy said about Lauzon, who has one goal and one assist in the NHL this season. “Listen he’s a young kid that’s seeing good challenges every night, and I like the way that he responds, I like that he’s hard. It’s just cleaning up the details of his game that – honestly it takes years for a defenseman to truly get there – but I love his competitiveness has never waned, his willingness to make a play, to stay up when he’s supposed to. All that stuff has been there every night consistently, and that’s why he’s stayed in the lineup.”

It's not surprising that Lauzon’s competitiveness hasn’t waned because it’s something that goes back a long way with the 6-foot-2, 205-pound defender.

“I don’t know, I’ve always been like this,” Lauzon said. “I think since I was really young, it’s never something that I concentrated on doing, it just came naturally. I think I started realizing that I was competing that hard when I turned to junior hockey and my coach was talking about how they love my compete. I don’t know, it’s how I play hockey.

“And even during the summer, when I play with some friends back home that I grew up with, and now obviously we’ll play a game, or any kind of games, I’m always the most competitive and I think it pisses them off a lot. They just joke about it too. I think it’s just in my nature.”

That competitiveness has turned Lauzon into a player that’s willing to do anything to help his team, whether it’s blocking a shot or throwing a big hit. It must make his mom, gynecologist Manon Turbide and dad, pulmonologist  Ghyslain Lauzon, cringe having seen what hockey has done to one of their sons. While emphasizing education and maybe nudging them toward careers like they have, Lauzon’s parents couldn’t keep their three sons (youngest Emile is an 18-year-old forward for Val-d’Or in the Quebec League) from pursuing hockey.

There’s a cerebral side to Lauzon on and off the ice that helps him navigate his adjustment from the AHL to the NHL and helping the Bruins accumulate points that might lead them to win the Presidents’ Trophy. At his mother’s urging, he plans to take some college-level courses in the years ahead.

But now Lauzon is focused 100 percent on hockey, having the NHL career his brother couldn’t have, helping the Bruins win and dedicating his accomplishments to Zachary.