It’s incredible how far the Vancouver Canucks prospects came in a week.
Two weeks ago they shook hands and nervously made small talk like the first day of school, now the handshakes are extensive, the inside jokes lol worthy and summer is upon them.
Covering camp all week with the Canucks content team gave me an insider’s look at the young guns, especially off the ice when no cameras were rolling. I noticed this and I noticed that, tidbits that are noteworthy, yet not story worthy.
This is them, they are this.
1 – Usher (yes, the Usher) was staying at the team’s hotel in Whistler. On Saturday afternoon he walked past the prospects and into a large ballroom before indulging in a game of ping-pong with a buddy. I approached and asked if he would take a group photo with us and he said yes, but when he was finished his game. With the scavenger hunt coming up we waited as long as we could before taking off. So Usher either burned us and never came, or he came out and he thinks we burned him by leaving. A burn either way.
2 – Russian prospect Nikita Tryamkin is truly something else. He’s a gentle giant at 6-foot-7 and this camp could not have been easy for him. He doesn’t know much English and had Canucks scout Sergei Chibisov translating for him most of the week; imagine just being plunked in Russia with only English at your disposal. Brutal. But we can confirm he had at least one enjoyable conversation: riding the gondola down from Whistler mountain he ended up as part of a six sum of himself, three Canucks content creators and two strangers. Those strangers just happened to be Russians who live in Seattle, on vacation in Whistler. When the gondola stalled for 30 minutes, Nikita made two new friends.
3 – Dane Fox. I’m not even sure what to say about this guy – he stole camp. Typically the prospects are a tad shy and a little reluctant to really do anything with the Canucks crew in terms of videos, stories and social media, but he not only worked as our guest Instagrammer, he also tried his hand at reporter AND took a selfie with an owl, although the photos taken moments of him being spooked by the owl are far better than his. Thanks for all the help Foxy.
4 – Dan Cloutier and Ryan Johnson are quite the pair. Both former Canucks, both now molding future Canucks. Did you know their friendship dates back to 2000 when they were Tampa Bay Lightning teammates? Truth. They played together for two years and always remained close, Johnson even stayed at Cloutier’s house in Vancouver when he was having trouble finding a place to live when he joined the Canucks in 2008. It’s interesting how neat that is.
5 – Swedish defenceman Gustav Forsling, whom the Canucks took with the 126th overall pick in the 2014 NHL Draft, found out he was going to Vancouver via Twitter. More specifically, from the wonderful account @VanCanucks. Apparently we make dreams come true.
6 – Was doing the Grouse Grind alongside the prospects the best idea I’ve ever had? Probably not, especially since I didn’t spend even a second stretching beforehand. I wanted to see the guys battle through it first hand and I certainly did. I ended up doing most the hike with Thatcher Demko, Tryamkin and Brendan Gaunce, who I could not speak higher of. He was sweating leadership up the hill helping Tryamkin tough it out. The big man is strong and he’ll develop stamina, but he struggled at times on the grind; each and every time he wanted to quit, Gaunce was there to push him – literally push him sometimes. It was teamwork at its finest. No man left behind.
7 – Tryamkin grabbed onto my backpack and one point during the grind and my knees buckled. Did I mention he’s strong?
8 – Who wore it best? I hope we look back on this picture in 10 years and they’re all still not only with the Canucks, but three of the top NHLers around. Imagine if this was Henrik Sedin, Alex Burrows and Kevin Bieksa.
Who wore it best? @thatcher_hockey, @Jake_Virtanen or @jaredmccann19? @CanucksStore #shoppingspree pic.twitter.com/53zQnWaKCE
— Vancouver Canucks (@VanCanucks) July 9, 2014
8 – Food was provided for the prospects all week: three meals a day, the good, healthy stuff. Mackenze Stewart had other plans. He arrived in Whistler with Tupperware containers full of his own food, mainly chicken and potatoes, and when he started running low in Vancouver, he ventured out to the market for supplies. Stewart gets hungry, often, so he always has food nearby.
9 – Sticking with Mackenze Stewart: he was born deaf, didn’t play hockey until the age of 12 and he found out he was drafted his year while at his girlfriend’s prom in Prince Albert.
10 – Jake Virtanen had a frustrating week. Because he’s rehabbing his injured shoulder, he was unable to take to the ice or take part in most of the weight-room activities. The bright side of this was that Kyle Pettit, a fellow 2014 draftee, is nursing the same exact injury and the pair were on the same schedule all week. They were even roommates. Misery loves company.
11 – Team Quang, coached by executive chef Quang Dang of West restaurant in Vancouver, won the friendly cooking competition as part of a cooking lesson the prospects received at Dirty Apron restaurant. Team Quang, made up of Matthew Beattie, Mackenze Stewart, Cole Cassels, Michael Garteig, Ben Hutton and Andrew Goldberg, prepared a mussels prawn stew that had a coconut sauce and was dreamy and delicious and awesome and I want more of it.
12 – Shout out to Miles Liberati who was tasked with peeling and washing the hardboiled eggs as part of Team Halibut. There was not a shell to be found on those eggs, nicely done.
13 – Thatcher Demko provided an inside look at what the week has been like through his blog and I don’t know about you, but what I related to most was him falling asleep during yoga. The conditions are perfect for a snooze; those who doze off are surely not to be blamed.
14 – Keeping with Thatcher Demko: his dad taught himself to play hockey while attending school at UBC. He was in Vancouver all week cheering on his son from the stands and he spoke to us about the Thatcher he knows.
14 – New Canucks head coach Willie Desjardins also tried his hand at the Grouse Grind and all he would say afterwards was that “it wasn’t very fun.” You’ve got that right, coach!
15 – Jake Virtanen would rather fight 1 Chara-sized duck than 100 duck-sized Charas. Thanks for all the #askJake Twitter questions, he had a ball answering them everyday.
1 Chara-sized duck?! “@phiIkessels: @VanCanucks #askjake would you rather fight 100 duck-sized charas or 1 chara-sized duck?”
— Vancouver Canucks (@VanCanucks) July 10, 2014
16 – The best Grouse Grind time (meaning you’re only as fast as your slowest group mate) was 45 minutes by Team 3, namely Liberati, Horvat, McEneny, Strecher, O’Connor and James. Speedsters.
18 – Jared McCann loves cotton candy.
They're serving cotton candy in the lobby of the hotel. @jaredmccann19 can hardly wait! #vandevcamp #Canucks pic.twitter.com/wMCpFSLN6l
— Vancouver Canucks (@VanCanucks) July 5, 2014
19 – Trevor Linden is good at taking pictures.
In the stands: Trevor Linden just took a picture of a fan with Stan Smyl. #Vandevcamp #Canucks pic.twitter.com/idWv3deYPU
— Vancouver Canucks (@VanCanucks) July 7, 2014
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