Bob Wage from our Hurricanes blog, Canes Country, ate lunch with prospect Mark Pysyk and his father in Los Angeles yesterday. They had a lengthy chat about Pysyk's upbringing and how he found his way to hockey and to this point at the NHL Draft, where he's ranked seventh among North American skaters by Central Scouting.
Here's a bit of Bob's story:
Mark laughed when asked about where he got his athleticism. "It wasn't from him", he pointed to his father. His dad smiled and agreed. "You don't get to play much hockey when you work a farm", he replied. "Hockey was not even on my mind most times."
The old hockey pond would even get chopped up if possible during the winter so that the livestock could get water. There was no Staal-like home-made rink on his farm near Edmonton, Alberta where Pysyk grew up. But he did have plenty of opportunity to play hockey, the game he loves. His best friend's dad was a major influence on him and would coach him as a youngster.
Pysyk ended up playing for his hometown junior team, the Edmonton Oil Kings and made a great impression. "Mark carried our team on his back a lot of nights this winter and the fact that he played on a broken foot for a couple of games before he was forced to end his season early shows how much character he's developed", said team General Manager, Bob Green.
Unfortunately due to his broken foot, several scouts never had a chance to see Pysyk play this past season. Still, his stats were respectable as he scored 7 goals and chipped in with 17 assists in 48 games. More importantly, he played in all situations and logged a lot of minutes.