VANCOUVER – All Brock Boeser got out of the weekend was $450,000 in contractual bonuses, $125,000 in prize money, a new car and a priceless puppy. Other than that, the National Hockey League’s All-Star Break in Tampa was a waste of his time.
The Vancouver Canucks’ 20-year-old rookie returned to work Tuesday seemingly unchanged by his growing fame and fortune.
His sister, Jessica, is getting the new Honda that Boeser won Sunday as the all-star game MVP. His mom, Laurie, is fostering the Shepherd-Husky pup, adopted by Boeser from the Humane Society, to look after while Brock finishes the hockey season.
“Just stole my heart; I’m going to be honest,” Boeser said of the dog. “My family has a few dogs. I wanted a dog this summer. I guess I got it a little early. My mom took it home from Minnesota. I think we’re going to name it Coola.”
And all that extra money is going into an account somewhere.
“Yeah, it’s crazy,” Boeser said Tuesday. “I don’t even think about that anymore.”
It will all seem like allowance money, anyway, when Boeser signs his second NHL contract either this summer or next for something in the $8-million range.
The rookie winger from the University of North Dakota is going to be a star. His appearance in Tampa alongside Sidney Crosby and Steven Stamkos, Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews simply reinforced this idea.
Boeser had 24 goals in 46 games, before the Canucks’ Tuesday night contest against the Colorado Avalanche to earn the all-star invitation that allowed him to become the first rookie MVP in the showcase event. He won the target-shooting contest on Saturday despite unusually sweaty palms, then had two goals and an assist as Team Pacific won the three-on-three main event on Sunday.
“My hands were sweating,” Boeser said of the skills competition. “It’s pretty nervous when you have to go shoot pucks in front of guys you grew up idolizing and all these fans. If you’re one of the guys that just keeps missing, the crowd starts to feed you a little bit. I didn’t want to be like that.
“My first shot was on the ice, so I quickly thought: ‘I’m screwed.’ But then I hit the next one and hit the next one.”
After drilling the five changing targets in 11.136 seconds, Boeser waited out the rest of the competition chatting on the ice with Crosby. Boeser scored five goals in two games against Crosby’s Pittsburgh Penguins this season.
“He asked me again how many goals I had,” Boeser said. “I just had a good conversation with him.”
It was a weekend unimaginable to Boeser this time last year when the winger was coming back from wrist surgery and had another seven weeks to go in his second and final season at North Dakota.
Everyone – family, coaches, teammates – talks about Boeser’s humility. He deliberately does not celebrate his goals much, usually simply taking the right hand off his stick as he thrusts it down through his left hand at his hip. It’s an unconscious move, he said, not an imaginary sheathing of a sword.
He believes the only time this season he raised his arms after scoring was when he completed his hat trick against the Penguins on Nov. 4.
“I think I’ve gone down to my knee maybe three times in my life – once when we won the national championship [at North Dakota],” Boeser told Sportsnet. “I like to stay humble. I know I’m not going to score without my teammates, so I like to celebrate with them. I’ve never been a guy to have a big celebration or anything.”
While Boeser may be unchanged, his stature has grown immensely the last few months. With fame and money will come increased demands on his time and, potentially, a lot of distractions.
But Canucks coach Travis Green hasn’t seen any wavering of focus in the way Boeser approaches and plays the game, which, like his skill, is at an uncommonly high level for a rookie.
“I think he has a good grasp about what I’m talking about as a team and team success,” Green said last week. “That’s what he wants. I don’t think you see a lot of young guys who come out and have the success he’s had. That doesn’t happen a lot. I think that makes it a little easier for him to understand.
“He feels confident, feels comfortable, but he’s also a smart kid and he’s humble. I think when you have success it makes it easier to understand things, for sure, because you’re not pressing and you’re not worried about scoring.”
In Tampa, Team Pacific coach Gerard Gallant told reporters on Sunday Boeser was the quietest guy in the dressing room.
“He sat in the corner there,” Gallant said. “The players talked to him a little bit, but he was pretty quiet. The way he plays, he won’t be quiet in a few years.”
The way he plays, he’s not quiet now.