The first time Brad Boyes was traded by an NHL team, he understood.
Even though he had yet to crack the big-league ranks with the Toronto Maple Leafs, he accepted the trade to San Jose because of Toronto's desire to add veteran Owen Nolan for another playoff push.
But when Boyes was traded for the second and then the third time before he'd even celebrated his 25th birthday, he couldn't help but start to wonder if there was a reason he was being sent down the line over and over.
"That's the part that kinda creeps in," admitted the St. Louis Blues sniper. "But that's where you've got to have good friends and good family to tell you, 'These guys want you and they want you to be part of something.' "
The good part is he has no shortage of friends.
"Exactly. Coming to a new team, I feel like I know most of the guys because I've played with them somewhere along the line," he said. "Hockey's a small world-- you always run into guys you've been with along the way."
The way Boyes has lit the lamp this season for the resurgent Blues, you have to think the Leafs, Sharks and Boston Bruins -- who traded him to St. Louis in February for Dennis Wideman -- are the ones doing some second-guessing right about now.
Heading into last night's clash against the Calgary Flames, Boyes was tied for seventh in the league with 15 goals along with 21 points.
He was ahead of Jarome Iginla and Sidney Crosby in that category, and the only Blues player in double-digits in goals. In fact, his 15 goals more than doubled the next player -- Paul Kariya and his seven tallies -- on his team.
More importantly, the former first rounder, 24th overall in 2000, finally feels at home.
"I was feeling pretty good in Boston and you never know what's going to happen, but I do feel good here," he said. "I feel I've been given an opportunity to play, and that's what you want, and I'm trying to take advantage of it."
Not only is he being given a chance to play, he's been given an opportunity to play with a pair of great playmakers, skating on a line with Kariya and Doug Weight.
"Yeah, those guys are great passers," Boyes stated. "Paulie's been in on almost every one of the goals I've scored. I've just got to shoot the puck -- a lot of times they've given me an open net. They take a lot of attention, too, so I get to hide in the shadows."
He has to make the most of those chances. Considering his 15 goals have come on 59 shots, that 25.4% shooting percentage -- third best in the league -- speaks volumes about him doing that.
"My dad was always telling me to shoot more. Bearing down was part of it," he said. "Being with the playmakers I'm with, I've got to shoot the puck."