Chris Wagner Gets A Shot With His Hometown Team

Chris Wagner Gets A Shot With His Hometown Team

The following article was posted on on Tuesday, August 7 featuring former Colgate standout Chris Wagner.

By Matt Porter

FOXBOROUGH — Chris Wagner chuckles at the thought that he’ll be wearing No. 14 for his hometown team. When he was growing up in Walpole, that was Sergei Samsonov’s Bruins sweater. He enjoyed watching the Russian winger create magic while cutting figure-8s around the offensive zone. 

He didn’t try to model his game after Samsonov’s. Early in his playing career, Wagner realized he was better at finishing a check than a scoring chance. 

“When I was little, I liked to do it,” he said. “Lining up people, I was always good at it. When I first got called up, I knew I wasn’t going to out-skill anybody. You’ve got eight minutes a night to prove something.” 

Straight-line, straightforward, physical play earned Wagner a spot in the NHL. 

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The Bruins, looking for experience in the bottom six and on the penalty kill after Riley Nash (Columbus) and Tim Schaller (Vancouver) departed via free agency, signed the 27-year-old right-shot forward, a former fifth-round pick of Anaheim’s, for two years and $2.5 million July 1. Not only is that nearly double the coin Wagner made with the Ducks and Islanders the last two years, he’s also back home. 

“It’s crazy how well it worked out,” said Wagner before a summer pickup skate at the Foxboro Sports Center, where he was greeted in the lobby by a slew of familiar faces. “I would never say no to playing in my hometown. I don’t care about what anybody says about the pressure, or whatever they say.” 

Wagner, who played in Canton while attending Xaverian High for three years, shifted to Foxborough when he joined the South Shore Kings full time. He tied an Eastern Junior Hockey League scoring record by getting 83 points in 2010-11, topped the following year by Jimmy Vesey’s 91. 

As a pro, separating others from the puck, rather than making plays with it, has been his trademark.

Wagner, who is 6 feet and 198 pounds, was third in the league in hits (253) last year. He averaged one every 14 seconds. He credits his work with Brian McDonough at Edge Performance Systems for keeping him free of major injury. 

Devils right wing Kyle Palmieri, a training partner and Seaport apartment-mate, said his pal has earned a healthy respect around the league. 

“He’s made himself an effective penalty killer. He brings energy. He’s proven that when he gets an opportunity, he can put the puck in the back of the net,” said Palmieri, who came up with Wagner in Anaheim’s system (first-round choice in 2009; Wagner was 122nd overall in 2010). “He’s one of those guys you need on your roster. 

“He’s not the biggest guy, but he’s strong and works hard. You need that in this league.”

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