As the November offseason trots along, news about the Vancouver Canucks has slowed to a snail’s pace. The last meaningful information came in the form of a Guillaume Brisebois re-signing, which barely moved the excitement meter. It truly feels like August and the “dog days of summer”, but the temperature is not 30 degrees, it’s hovering around freezing.
The NHL has not given us a concrete date on when the 2020-21 season will begin either, which makes this offseason even more depressing. So in the spirit of positivity, I thought it would be a great time to take a closer look at some of the many personalities the Canucks have on their roster.
As such, here are some fascinating things you may not know about the men that call Vancouver and Rogers Arena home:
1) Elias Pettersson Has Style on and off the Ice
Ever since Elias Pettersson graced the hockey world with his presence, style has been synonymous with his game. His shot, hands and hockey IQ could be put up at the Louvre as works of art, that’s how famous he has become in the NHL.
Pettersson’s style goes beyond the ice surface as he’s displayed a healthy dose of fashion sense in what he has worn off the ice. Before the invention of Instagram, we never got to see a player’s overall style, but now with almost every young NHL player having an active account, we get to see the person behind the jersey.
Pettersson is no stranger to the app, as he posts pictures and stories almost daily. During the quarantine period, he even showed off his humorous side by posting a video of himself hitting a hole in one using a plethora of hilarious and impossible shots. He also doesn’t shy away from interacting with his fans, as he accepted a challenge from Canucks Army’s Clarissa Sabile to recreate a popular basketball dribbling video on Twitter. He not only accepted the challenge, but he also did a decent job of replicating the video. The funniest thing was that he actually had to buy a basketball to do it!
2) Quinn Hughes Has an Elite Blood Line
If all goes according to plan, the Hughes brothers will probably join the Sutters, Staals, and Hulls as hockey’s most elite families. Quinn and Jack Hughes are already top-ten draft picks in the NHL, while their youngest brother Luke could follow them as a top-tier pick in the 2021 Draft. That alone will place them in the record books as no American family has ever seen three members get drafted in the first round of the NHL Draft.
But as we all know, hockey players do not grow from a petri dish. The Hughes brothers were raised by some elite parents. Their dad, Jim Hughes is an assistant coach with the Boston Bruins and former defenceman with Providence College, while their mom, Ellen Hughes was a prominent member of New Hampshire’s hockey, lacrosse, and soccer teams. She also played for the US women’s national team in the 1992 World Championship where she posted four points in five games en route to a silver medal finish. In 2012, she was inducted into the UNH Athletic Hall of Fame after spending several seasons as an assistant coach for their soccer and hockey programs.
So Jack, Quinn, and Luke all had masterful teachers to guide them on their way to stardom. Ellen actually taught all her kids to skate, so you can thank her for Quinn’s insane edges and smooth skating stride. Suffice it to say, there’s a reason one of them is already a franchise defenceman and the other two will be top-ten NHL talents in very short order.
3) Brock Boeser’s Heart of Gold
Brock Boeser has a special place in everyone’s heart because of his connection to a certain fan in Baylee Bjorge, who has down syndrome. Just like Pettersson, Boeser is not afraid to connect with the fans, especially one that is going through something that is close to his heart. His sister, Jess, also has a developmental disability, so when Baylee asked him to be a date for her prom, Brock, of course, said yes. Though, not before having to do some work to track her down. Not many players would go to that length for a fan. But Boeser is not just any player.
To this day, Boeser keeps in contact with Baylee and even regularly spends time with her. The most recent publicized meeting was in 2018 when he returned to Grand Forks to spend the day with her. But that wasn’t the most heartwarming thing about the meeting. He also made a rare appearance on Twitter when he clapped back at an Internet troll that seemed to suggest that he was only spending time with her out of pity.
Boeser, of course, set the record straight and gained a whole slew of supporters because of it. He has a heart of gold, there’s just no ifs, ands, or buts about it. Baylee is a close friend of his, not just a publicity stunt.
4) Brock Boeser & Elias Pettersson Love Gossip Girl
Before NHL hockey got back onto our television screens following the COVID-19 induced pause, Boeser and Pettersson were sitting back and watching Gossip Girl. It has become somewhat of a team thing too, as Hughes has partaken in the guilty pleasure as well. I’m sure people would also be interested to know that Boeser likes Grey’s Anatomy, One Direction, High School Musical, and Katy Perry too. No wonder he’s a popular man in Canucks Nation.
5) JT Miller Made the News at Six-Years-Old
J.T. Miller’s NHL future was evident very early in his life, as he started playing competitive hockey at 6-years-old. In fact, he had to play with eight and nine-year-olds because of his high skill level. Of course, in the small town of East Palestine, Ohio, that sort of performance gets you on the local news.
I’m good at scoring goals and assists…I’m good at passing…Six-year-old JT Miller
That season Miller scored 52 goals and 66 points with his tenacity, work ethic, and maturity beyond his years. Of course, we all know what he became after that, a tremendous hockey player for the New York Rangers, Tampa Lightning, and now Vancouver Canucks. He currently has 122 goals and 309 points in 504 NHL games after posting career highs of 27 goals and 72 points in 69 games with the Canucks in 2019-20. Looks like those aspirations of becoming an NHL player were not just childhood fantasy after all.
6) Holtby, Schmidt & Beagle Are Best Friends
The Canucks are reuniting the three musketeers in Braden Holtby, Nate Schmidt, and Jay Beagle. One of the first things Beagle said following the additions was the fact that he was going to be playing with his two best friends again.
Fortunate for us, and for me, I have two of my best friends I’ve played with that have now come back. I get to play with them this year, the upcoming season. I’m obviously really excited.
They were especially close when they were teammates in Washington, even after Schmidt left. Schmidt was actually the one behind the team building Mario Kart battles during the 2018 Stanley Cup Final, even though he was not part of the team at the time.
Community and closeness have become one of the hallmarks of the Canucks in recent seasons. Schmidt and Holtby’s personalities and connections to each other will just add to the special narrative that is being written in Vancouver right now.
7) Scottie Miller, Gunnar Horvat & Tucker Pearson Have Become Child Stars
During the COVID-19 pandemic’s forced quarantine and subsequent bubble playoffs, the family life of many NHL players were front and center on social media. Amongst the many videos and Instagram posts were Scottie Miller’s Go Dada Go cheer, Tucker Pearson’s Tanev-esque mini hockey performance, and Gunnar Horvat’s various appearances in his Canucks apparel.
As of this writing both Scottie and Tucker’s videos have generated over 234 thousand views and have captured the hearts and minds of Canucks’ fans everywhere. They may have even become bigger social media stars than their dads.
Scottie’s chant before the game against the Minnesota Wild in August must have motivated Miller because he ended up scoring a goal shortly after Sportsnet showed the clip of her adorably cheering her dad on.
Then there’s Gunnar Horvat, who was born not long before the NHL bubble playoffs began in August. His dad Bo had to leave him in Ontario for a couple of months, while he played hero for the Canucks in the postseason. Fortunately, pictures of his adorable son did not stop flooding the feeds and timelines of Canucks fans. We were lucky enough to see Gunnar decked out in his Canucks’ gear many times throughout the lengthy playoff run, including his first appearance in the flying skate which is a favourite of many fans young and old.
Suffice it to say, videos and pictures of toddlers and newborns of NHL players have become quite popular on social media these days. With the advent of Zoom, Instagram, and Twitter, it’s now simpler to keep fans updated about their lives outside of hockey and we couldn’t be more grateful to them for opening that part of themselves to us. That’s also why we were able to get so many interesting things to talk about in an article like this one.
Matthew Zator is a THW freelance writer, media editor, and scout who lives and breathes Vancouver Canucks hockey, the NHL Draft, and prospects in general. He loves talking about young players and their potential. Matthew is a must-read for Canucks fans and fans of the NHL Draft and its prospects. For interview requests or content information, you can follow Matthew through his social media accounts which are listed under his photo at the conclusion of articles like this one about Tyler Motte.