The 140th commencement at Boston College is scheduled for 10 a.m. May 23 at Alumni Stadium in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, but Christopher James Kreider has no plans to walk with his class to pick up his long-pursued and long-promised bachelor’s degree.
“We’ll be in the playoffs,’’ Kreider said. “I can just go pick it up or something.’’
Chris Kreider, 24, earns a living as a rangy forward for the New York Rangers. He got off to a slow start this season but is playing well as of late, scoring in each of his last two games and five of his last nine. Kreider even fought with Pittsburgh forward Chris Kunitz on Sunday, and won.
“Pucks are going in,’’ said Kreider, who has 16 goals overall. “The stats as of late are better than the underlying numbers. Before that, the underlying numbers were better than the stats. It’s just how it goes sometimes. You get to a point where the underlying numbers are just as good as the stats.’’
The Rangers will open a critical three-game trip Wednesday with a game against the Anaheim Ducks. The trip, which includes games against the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday and the San Jose Sharks on Saturday, will help determine the Rangers’ playoff seeding.
For most of the season, Kreider has also been working on completing his degree.
At 6 feet 3 inches and 226 pounds, Kreider is a fast and powerful skater. But he is also cerebral and introspective.
When the Rangers go on the road, Kreider takes a Kindle reader. He said he was completing a book of short stories. He likes to read in his hotel room before he falls asleep.
Asked what he likes about reading, Kreider said: “What everyone enjoys about it. It’s something to do.’’
Nevertheless, he put together a summer reading list last July for CNBC.com. The Ernest Hemingway novel “The Old Man and the Sea’’ was on it.
When asked what he majored in at Boston College, Kreider smiled and said: “Hockey. My minor was communications.’’
Kreider did major in communications as he compiled a successful three-year hockey career at Boston College, helping the Eagles win NCAA titles in 2010 and 2012.
Three days after the 2012 title game, Kreider, who is from Boxford, Massachusetts, and went to Andover Academy, signed with the Rangers, who had selected him in the first round of the 2009 draft. He was a phenom, scoring five goals in 18 Stanley Cup playoff games.
But Kreider had already made a promise to his parents, Kathy and David, to finish work on his bachelor’s degree. He took a full course load in the summer of 2011, but he was still four courses short when he left college.
Kreider later learned he needed six courses.
“I was told four initially,’’ he said, “but at the time there was turnover from dean to dean, so there was a change in the system. Course numbers and credits were different than before that. There was a lot of red tape. It almost fell through the cracks.’’
Kreider, who is fluent in Spanish and Russian, said he took a few courses at Boston College in the offseason and a few online. He had to get an English elective done.
His professor, the Rev. Robert D. Farrell, gave him a choice of topics: American Popular Literature, New World Classics or New Forms, New Fictions.
“He selected American Popular Literature because it was based on an original and refreshing concept — to apply the critical approaches one would use to evaluate classical literature to novels found on the racks at Wal-Mart,’’ Farrell wrote in an email. “The program required Chris to write a five-page appreciation of each of the six novels. He approached each assignment differently.’’
Farrell added, “His papers revealed over and over again that Chris himself has the writer’s gift.’’
Kreider played down the bachelor’s degree, saying: “I put a lot of time and effort to get to a certain point. I was just kind of seeing it through to the end.’’
He said his grandfather, who died in November 2014, would have been proud of him.
But Farrell said that Kreider was not just going through the motions.
“Chris told me that he was happy to have the opportunity to work with the popular literature course and said that he was delighted to complete the work for his degree because it would mean so much to his family,’’ Farrell wrote.
Farrell added: “He gave me the impression that he really treasured his B.C. degree which he had worked so hard for while playing hockey at Boston College, and then continued to pursue over the years while playing for the Rangers. It was a long and demanding process for a very disciplined young man.’’
Asked what he might be doing if he were not playing hockey, Kreider shrugged and said, “This is what I wanted to do for a long time.’’
Since he will have a degree in communications, perhaps Kreider could be an announcer when his career is over.
He thought about it and said, “I definitely have the face.’’