David vs. Goliath

by Brendon Chelo || AHL On The Beat Archive

Today’s hockey player has evolved from the one of years past. Joe Thornton, Chris Pronger, Zdeno Chara, Ryan Getzlaf, Milan Lucic – they all possess an advantageous commonality: size.

At every level of the sport, size has become an increasingly important factor. Elite teams – whether it be at the youth, high school, college, or professional level – are just as likely (if not more) to recruit a big player as one with an exemplary skill set. There’s a reason for this: skills can be taught, and size cannot.

This remains especially true among premier defenseman. The great majority are giants. Zdeno Chara, for example, stands a towering 6-foot-9 and weighs in at 260 pounds. Chris Pronger is no dwarf either – he’s 6-foot-6 and 220 pounds. So, in a sport where size truly does matter, a common question arises: is there any viable role for a player of modest size?

Enter David Warsofsky, patroling the blue line for the Providence Bruins. Being a defenseman in the AHL, one would think it was his physical stature that got him there. However, that’s not quite the case.

Warsofsky is a humble 5-foot-9 and 170 pounds.

Still, he has managed to work his way up to the professional ranks. His unique viewpoint must be attributed to his success, as he believes his size provides him with advantages that bigger players fail to grasp.

“Yeah, I think being a smaller guy, sometimes, you’re quicker than the bigger guys,” says Warsofsky. “For me, I think it’s just being a little smarter and making the first move and not getting caught out of position. I think that’s a big thing for me.”

Warsofsky’s skill set is a unique one, as he patterns his game after some notable names.

“Looking back, I think Ray Bourque’s one of them,” he says. “He’s obviously the type of player that did everything right and it shows for it – he’s in the Hall of Fame now. But Brian Rafalski and Nick Lidstrom I think. Rafalski’s kinda my size. It’s just one of those things that you try to pattern your game after.”

Quite the role models, for sure, but they’re truly relevant when one realizes the style of game Warsofky’s been crafting.

“I think an offensive type of defenseman, but at the same time you know you gotta take pride in your own defensive game,” says Warsofsky. “I’m working to become an all-around player, and trying to do that day-by-day and continue that type of game.”

It’s interesting to note that Warsofsky’s success isn’t confined to the professional level of play. He was an instrumental piece of the 2009 national champion Boston University Terriers, where he played with current Providence Bruins teammate Colby Cohen. Perhaps his greatest sporting moment, however, came at the 2010 World Junior Championships, where the Massachusetts native represented the United States.

“It was awesome, I think anytime you have a chance to represent your country it’s an unbelievable opportunity, and for me luckily, we were able to win it that year,” says Warsofsky. “Just to wear the USA jersey and take pride in that – it was an unbelievable experience.”

As if the gold medal alone wasn’t enough, it came in overtime against a heavily favored Canadian squad.

“You don’t even have to know hockey to know the hockey rivalry between USA and Canada. To beat your arch rival in a stage like that, you know, it’s something you can only imagine,” he says, with an obvious and well-deserved sense of pride.

Warsofsky’s playing days are far from over, and he’s hoping his success thus far translates to the NHL level. The 21-year-old is anxious to take part in Boston’s historic and storied rivalries. He’s already lived that of BU and BC, and wants to make the leap to the upper echelon – the ones with Montreal, Philadelphia, and now, Vancouver.

“I think when the schedule comes out, Boston and their rivals mark those games. At BU and BC, that was an unbelievable rivalry. I think Boston, Montreal, Philly – those are even higher, so hopefully one day to be a part of those rivalries,” says Warsofsky. “I can just look forward to those.”

And we’re looking forward to seeing him there as well.