Most hockey coaches stir their lines as often as their team chefs stir the spaghetti dinners.
But in January 2020, when Boston College coach Jerry York saw the chemistry three of his freshman forwards — Matthew Boldy, Alex Newhook and Mike Hardman — had together, he made them a permanent line.
“They all complemented each other,” York said. “All three brought something different to the table.”
Hardman wasn’t as decorated as his teammates. Boldy and Newhook were highly touted recruits and first-round picks in the 2019 NHL Draft. Boldy went 12th to the Wild and Newhook 16th to the Avalanche.
Hardman, who signed with the Blackhawks last month, was never drafted, already two years out of high school and generally “not considered [to be] in that group,” York said. But the Boston-area native quickly proved he deserved to be.
“The biggest thing for us three is we were really close on and off the ice,” Hardman said. “ ‘Bolds’ and ‘Newy’ were two of my best friends. I talked to them on a day-to-day basis. When we got on a line together, I got a lot more confidence through my freshman year.”
In 2019-20, Newhook led BC with 42 points in 34 games, but Hardman nearly matched Boldy by unexpectedly breaking out for 25 points, sixth on the team.