Every other Thursday, Sportsnet’s Kyle Bukauskas will give you a peek behind the curtain and share stories about what he sees and hears in his job as a rink side reporter.
Here’s this week’s collection:
1. Joey Daccord was three days old when he was first brought into a hockey arena.
His father, Brian, who was also a goalie, has been working in hockey for all of Joey’s life. When Joey was five, Brian became the goalie coach for the Boston Bruins. Joey was one of the young kids passing a little ball of tape around the Bruins dressing room with Joe Thornton in those days.
Which only makes the fact that Thornton was one of the shooters Daccord had to worry about when he picked up his first career NHL win on Sunday vs. Toronto all the more amazing.
Brian runs a goaltending school that has programs across Massachusetts. Growing up, Joey interacted with a number of talented goalies that came through there. He saw how much work they put in. Goalies that would go on to play NCAA, some that would carve out a role in the AHL or even get a chance to be a back-up for a game or two in the NHL. But they never got the opportunity to start on the biggest stage. It made him realize how much needs to go your way beyond your own preparation. It’s part of why he likes to say, “any time you play in the NHL it’s a pretty good day.”
Hoping for the best for Daccord. It was tough to watch him leave the game on Wednesday in that much pain.
2. A few months before the 2014 draft, Kevin Cheveldayoff went to watch Nikolaj Ehlers play in Halifax. It was the first time Cheveldayoff was seeing him in person, a player the scouting staff had been having lots of discussions about.
As Cheveldayoff made his way up to the press box at Scotiabank Centre, an usher spotted him.
“What are you doing here?” The arena staffer asked.
“Well, I’m here to watch Ehlers play.” Cheveldayoff said.
“Where are you picking again?” The usher wondered.
“I think we’re picking ninth.”
“Yeah…no chance he’s still going to be available to you then,” the usher said matter-of-factly.
Cheveldayoff got a kick out of that exchange. Thankfully for him and the Jets, Ehlers was still on the board at ninth overall that June. Ehlers’ banner year continues, operating at over a point per game clip for the first time in his career.
3. Since returning to Winnipeg, the Jets have a pretty darn good track record when it comes to their first-round selections.
Cheveldayoff told me a story of when the staff met down in Minnesota ahead of their first draft in 2011. They talked about the team’s philosophy and what attributes they were looking for in a player to bring into the organization.
Once they came up with their criteria, Marcel Comeau, who was their director of amateur scouting, said to the room, “if that’s the case, then we need to step up and take Mark Scheifele.”
That criteria have served them well.
4. Zach Hyman has shown an ability to score at previous stages of his career path. Twenty-two goals in his senior year at Michigan. Nearly a goal per game in his final year with the Hamilton Red Wings of the OJHL.
Mike Galati was his coach in Hamilton. He has known Hyman since he was eight years old. Like you see with the Leafs now, Galati says Hyman’s work ethic was always above his peers. He’s always had good touch around the net.
“He does all the things no one else wants to do,” Galati said.
“You just have to play him.”
Hyman first got to the Red Wings at 16 years old. He started that season on the fourth line, but by Christmas, the 20-year-olds were asking Galati to put Hyman on their line.
“The more confidence I showed him, the more confidence he showed me,” Galati said.
5. If you missed it, we asked Tim Stützle in the pre-game show Wednesday about switching the tape job on his stick. On the weekend he went from his “Stützle-style” look to the more traditional full wrap of the blade.
Stützle said he likes to change it up a few times during the season and was thinking of switching back for Monday’s game against Vancouver.
“But all the guys said ‘you better keep it with that pass you made.’ So, I just kept it.”