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Bruins prospect Andre Gasseau is the latest to take up an unusual off-ice regimen: Martial arts training

Andre Gasseau is emerging as one of the Bruins' most promising prospects.Ken McGagh for The Boston Globe

Andre Gasseau is often a one-man wrecking crew out on the frozen sheet.

The 20-year-old forward already has a pro-ready frame at 6 feet 4 inches and 211 pounds, and makes good use of it when driving into Grade-A ice and wreaking havoc on the forecheck.

But in the ring, Gasseau is no stranger to being pinned, thrown about, and outright bested by opponents well below his weight class — or significantly his elder.

Such a result isn’t an indictment on Gasseau’s skill after years of training in both Muay Thai and Jiu-Jitsu.

Rather, it’s a routinely reinforced lesson in mental fortitude, patience, and humility that Gasseau believes has helped him develop into one of the Bruins’ most promising prospects.


“The biggest part is mental,” Gasseau said of the benefits of martial arts training. “You go in to spar — you’re going against someone that’s a lot older than you, maybe a lot less strong. And then they beat you.

”Obviously, you’re going to be a lot stronger than a 50-year-old [fighter]. It’s just eye-opening.”

Andre Gasseau, who plays for Boston College, incorporates martial arts into his training regimen. Greg M. Cooper/Associated Press

The California-born Gasseau first began incorporating both Muay Thai and Jiu-Jitsu into his training regimen seven years ago when his father, James, first signed him up for classes.

It didn’t go well at first, with those hard lessons doled out by way of lopsided scores and submissions.

But as Gasseau’s hockey aspirations started to grow, it didn’t take long for the young forward to see the correlation (and mutual benefits) between two very different fields.

“At first I didn’t want to do it, but as the sessions went on I liked it and it gave me a lot of confidence on the ice and off the ice,” Gasseau said. “It’s been really beneficial to do it.”

These days, Gasseau usually trains on the mat four times a week during his usual offseason regimen. On some days, he’s in for sparring twice a day, incorporating more on-ice work as he draws closer and closer to training camp.


As unorthodox as Gasseau’s varied offseason program might be, he’s not the only Bruin to meld martial arts into his hockey routine.

Jakub Lauko trained in the ring on a regular basis last summer in his native Czechia, including two sessions a week with Czech fighter Jiri Zak, a former ISKA and WMC champion in kickboxing and Muay Thai.

“Even when I’m sparring with them, fighting with them, it’s unbelievable strength, unbelievable conditioning,” Lauko said of his Muay Thai experience last October. “It’s crazy how hard it is. … Some training with them, I was sitting in the locker room saying ‘What the hell did I drag myself into?’ I couldn’t even lift my hands or stand up. It was hard, but I feel like it’s going to pay off.”

Buoyed with both confidence and peak fitness following his offseason workout adjustment, Lauko landed a spot on the Bruins’ opening night roster last fall, and eventually earned himself a new two-year deal with Boston on Wednesday.

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Gasseau isn’t ready for the jump to the pros quite yet. But the current Boston College forward has elevated his stock significantly since the Bruins first selected him in the seventh round of the 2021 NHL Draft.

After a solid season with the USHL’s Fargo Force in 2021-22, Gasseau joined a rebuilding Eagles squad last fall. Initially slotted into a bottom-six role, BC coach Greg Brown eventually shifted Gasseau onto a top line next to fellow freshman (and 2022 5th overall pick) Cutter Gauthier.


Gasseau’s size and shot gelled immediately with the high-end talent of Gauthier and fellow linemate Nikita Nesterenko. He finished his freshman campaign with 10 goals and 29 points over 36 games — tied for third on the team in scoring.

“They were putting him in those [top-six] minutes, he grabbed it and forced them to keep him there. … He’s shown the ability to make little plays with top-end players and continue to push that,” Bruins assistant general manager Jamie Langenbrunner said of Gasseau. “The kids they got coming into BC, they’re going to have a lot of high-end guys, if he can complement that with his skill set, it’s good for us and for him.”

Gasseau will need to continue to hone his skating ability if he wants to continue to do damage at the next level. But beyond an encouraging stat line during his first go-around at Chestnut Hill, Bruins player development and scouting assistant Danielle Marmer believes Gasseau’s internal fortitude has allowed him to separate himself in Boston’s prospect pipeline.

“Usually when it takes guys time [to develop], it’s somewhere late in the fall when they start to figure it out,” Marmer explained. “For him, I want to say it was maybe even a little bit later than that. And that’s what actually I find so impressive — is that he didn’t let that discourage him. That pace was so much faster than he was used to and he found a way to adjust to it.”


Gasseau knows he still has a long road ahead of him; even if it’s a relatively short jaunt from Conte Forum to TD Garden.

But if there’s one thing his off-ice training has taught him over the years, it’s that the journey is just as important as the ultimate goal.

“It reminds you to calm yourself and just enjoy the process and try to learn from that,” Gasseau said. “It’s crazy. I’d recommend it to anybody. It’s definitely kind of like a superpower to have.”

Conor Ryan can be reached at conor.ryan@globe.com.