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. Josh Anderson’s father, Gary, grew up on the West Island of Montreal and has been a Canadiens fan his entire life. A Habs jersey signed by the 2003-04 team still proudly hangs in his office.
Josh was raised in the Burlington area outside Toronto. When he was 11, his dad took him to watch the powerhouse London Knights play during the 2005 Memorial Cup. During the game, Gary couldn’t help but look around and wonder, “wouldn’t it be cool if Josh played here someday?”
Six years later, his son suited up for Dale Hunter and the Knights.
For Josh’s 16th birthday, he wished to attend a Habs playoff game against Sidney Crosby and the Penguins. Amidst the unmistakable atmosphere of spring-time hockey in Montreal there was Gary, watching his boyhood team, once again thinking to himself, “man, wouldn’t it be amazing if Josh could play here one day?”
Not quite 11 years after that thought, Josh played his first game in the bleu, blanc et rouge.
Fast forward to Wednesday night, it was Anderson delivering a two-goal, playoff-like performance his father’s Habs so desperately needed.
2. It may not always be pretty, but Brady Tkachuk continually gives you a reason to tune in each night.
Even when the cameras catch him during the national anthem, you can see he is pretty animated doing a lot of self-talk. Tkachuk likes to pump himself up that way, while visualizing what he is going to do in the game. On nights where he’s not feeling 100 per cent, he uses those moments to get his energy level to where it needs to be.
When Tkachuk was going through the draft process, a few teams asked him to see a sports psychologist in an attempt to get to know him on a deeper level. During those sessions, Tkachuk learned about the value of that self-talk and reminding himself who he is as a player right before a game. It has been part of his routine ever since.
You’ll be hard-pressed to find a game where Tkachuk ever looks ill-prepared.
3. Josh Norris hasn’t turned 22 yet, but has already been a lot of places and seen a lot of things in his lifetime.
He spent a large portion of his childhood living in Germany.
For 10 months a year, the Norris family was overseas as his father, Dwayne, played pro in the DEL and later worked in management with the Frankfurt Lions. For two seasons, Dwayne’s centre was Peter Draisaitl who also has a son who is a pretty darn good hockey player.
Josh and his two brothers were “locker room rats” according to Dwayne. When they weren’t running around the dressing room or watching the action from the crowd, they were playing games of their own.
Dwayne missed a lot of those trips due to his schedule, so his wife, Traci fully embraced the role of “Hockey Mom.” Off she would go with Coale (the oldest), Josh and Dalton (the youngest) to tournaments all over Europe.
Josh would play up not one, but two age groups with his older brother Coale.
“They pushed each other,” Dwayne said. It didn’t take long for Josh to establish himself as one of the best players on the ice despite being the youngest out there. The question was, how would he compare to kids his age back in North America?
The adjustment wasn’t a problem for Josh. His dad maintains he always had that self-belief, right from when he was growing up playing against kids two years older than him in cities thousands of miles away from his hometown.
The rest of us are just seeing it on full display now as Josh has become a centreman DJ Smith trusts in any situation and will surely be in the conversation as a Calder Trophy finalist at season’s end.
From L-R: Coale, Dalton and Josh Norris.
4. Alex Formenton loves fashion. He loves it so much, he launched his own clothing company a few years ago.
Tight Apparel is the brainchild of Alex, his older brother Justin and long-time friend Hayden Stewart. When Alex was in junior, they wanted to come up with a way to rep their own brand.
Their vision was clear: stylish, affordable streetwear.
The company is based in Formenton’s hometown of Barrie, ON. The plan is to also continue to find ways to partner with different charities and initiatives in the area to create limited edition clothing lines as a way to give back to the community.
Formenton is a big fan of Russell Westbrook and his style. While he still loves the clean, professional look of wearing suits to games, Formenton admits he would love to see the NHL get to a point where players are able to rep their own brand when walking into an arena.
I have no idea what this new show is with colleague Shawn McKenzie dressed in all-white and Elliotte Friedman wearing sunglasses indoors…but perhaps Formenton could be a future guest.