June 27 2014 10:02AM
Ok, Bergeron 2.0 is a pretty unfair question to ask, but you can blame Jared McCann for that. His gifted offensive talents combined with the pride he takes in shutting the opposition down could make him a name that comes up in Selke talk in the future.
I was fortunate enough to talk to the projected mid-to-late first-rounder about his game, his development, and learning both ends of the ice. Warning: May also contain totally sweet highlight reel video.
We’re talking on the eve of you being selected in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, but I saw a video from a few years ago of a younger Jared McCann all excited at the idea of being selected in the OHL Draft. I want to see if you still feel the same way about what you said. You said that your two favourite players at the time were Tyler Seguin and David Backes. Is that still the case?
No, well, yeah, I guess so. They’re two of my favourite players but they’re not two of the players who I model my game after anymore.
Who are the guys that you model your game after now?
Patrice Bergeron or Jonathan Toews.
So one day you’re going to win the Selke is what you’re saying.
Ha. Hopefully! It would be nice.
That is something that you talked about back then and a little more recently – your two-way game. How do you think that has developed?
I think it’s going really well and I still obviously have a long way to go but last year Mr. Keefe (Greyhound head coach and former NHL player Sheldon Keefe) put me in a position where I could develop as a two-way centreman. I’m not one of those top five guys who are just worried about scoring goals and stuff anymore because you won’t be able to do that at the next level. I feel like I’ve been improving and going in the right direction.
How has it helped you to be on the Soo Greyhounds in terms of development? Watching some of your highlights, guys like Fritsch, guys like Tolchinsky – you were able to create magic out there.
Yeah I’ve always had good chemistry. My first year I played with Fritsch for a bit and Tolchinsky, but just playing in the Soo was amazing. It’s been awesome and it really helped me with my development. If you look at the players they’ve drafted like Jeff Carter, Jake Muzzin, and those guys, I felt like it was the best place for me to be.
What was your favourite team growing up?
I was an LA fan when I was younger.
See my buddy says that but I don’t believe him. I think he just says that because they’re good. I don’t know, you might just be doing that, too.
No, no. I have photos to prove it.
Who was your favourite player growing up before the Seguin and Backes days?
Probably Jonathan Toews.
What about your favourite King?
Now or back then?
Right now it’s Jeff Carter and then back then… I don’t know. Good question. Wayne Gretzky, probably.
Wayne Gretzky is not a bad player.
Haha well he’s a Soo Greyhound, so.
One thing that comes with being a first round pick is hopefully you get signed to an NHL contract, you would hope. I don’t know if you know this but NHL players make a lot more money than most people. What do you see yourself buying with your first pro hockey paycheck?
The first thing I’ll do is take my parents out to dinner or something like that.
…That’s it? One dinner?
Haha a couple dinners, probably.
What are some of the things going through your head right now? You’re hours away from being drafted into the National Hockey League.
I guess I’m nervous. I didn’t really sleep that well but it is what it is and hopefully when I hear my name called it’s going to be a great experience with my family. It’ll be a dream come true.
One very common criticism for young guys coming up is their defensive game is too weak and they’re not good enough without the puck. It sounds like you pride yourself on being pretty good with the puck. What has helped you become a better two-way player?
Just the fact of realizing that at the next level it’s not all about scoring points and stuff like that because some of those guys don’t even win Cups, right? It’s about being able to play both ends of the ice and defence is just as important as offence. I want to be that important guy that the coaches go to be a difference.
Was there a moment where you remember shutting a guy down as if you had scored a goal?
Yep. All the guys that are rated ahead of me who
are so gifted offensively who can really score goals. I take pride in playing
against them and really making it hard on them.