Texas tale explains prospect's puck love

 

The story carries a certain charm, undoubtedly polished through countless re-tellings.

 
 
 
 
 

The story carries a certain charm, undoubtedly polished through countless re-tellings.

Best of all, Tyler Myers swears the tale is true.

How, back when the family lived in Texas, his father Paul, out of the blue, took him to a Houston Aeros game.

How, despite being only six years old, he had been instantly smitten by the sport.

How, a dozen years later, he's a sure-fire first-round pick at the National Hockey League draft in Ottawa.

Hard to believe.

"Yeah, but that's exactly right," says Myers. "The morning (after the Aeros match) we were buying hockey equipment at the local rink's pro shop and starting up hockey. It was a pretty quick transition for me."

No question.

After playing minor hockey in Houston, the Myers clan re-located to Calgary -- McKenzie in the south, to be exact -- and the boy, then 10, blossomed.

Eventually, he skated his first-year bantam campaign with the Calgary Buffaloes, his second year with Edge, the local athletic academy.

Then, off to Wilcox, Sask., he played midget for Notre Dame. At the end of that season -- his Grade 10 year -- he was summoned by the Kelowna Rockets of the Western Hockey League.

Then began the business of wowing scouts, which, this past winter, he and blueline chum Luke Schenn did in earnest.

Schenn is slotted fifth by the Central Scouting Bureau; Myers is the fourth-ranked teenager among North American skaters.

"He's done great for himself," Myers says of Schenn. "It was fun having a teammate in a similar situation as me."

Officially six foot seven ("I might have another inch left in me"), Myers will soon join an elite club -- smiling teenagers who have marched on stage to shake hands with their newest best friends, to tug on a personalized jersey, to top it off with a stiff ball cap, to beam for photographers.

To become NHL property.

"I've started to think about that," says Myers, a fan of the Calgary Flames. "But I really don't have a clue what team is going to pick me. It feels like just yesterday that I was starting up hockey. It's an exciting feeling."

Putting the ring of reality on that feeling was May's NHL combine in Toronto.

In addition to stomach-churning fitness torture, Myers was interviewed by 21 outfits. (Of course, there'll be more sit-downs this week in Ottawa.)

"They're pretty relaxing . . . so it was fun to meet all of them," he says. "I was pretty outgoing and it went by pretty smooth. I was happy with them. It's nice to talk to the different scouts, the people representing the team. It's a neat experience."

One interview question, in particular, stood out for Myers.

He was asked to envision a "candy" that would ensure hockey success. The drawback? A 50 per cent chance that he would die 10 years later. Then came the predictable capper -- would he eat the magic bonbon?

To the thinly veiled query about performance-enhancing drugs, Myers said "no, right away. I don't think that anything harmful to the body should be taken."

Obviously, the correct answer.

Doing right, though, appears to be a matter of course for Myers.

When asked about skating on behalf of the Maple Leaf at April's under-18 world championship -- despite being U.S.-born -- Myers says it was a simple decision (even if it is a heck of a lot easier to crack American national sides).

"One of the biggest reasons I decided to play for Canada? If we hadn't moved, I wouldn't be where I am today as a hockey player," says Myers, who'd acquired his Canadian citizenship immediately before the world tourney. "So I'm very fortunate."

And suppose all those years ago, Pops had decided to put down roots in Texas.

Where would Myers be?

Or, more specifically, what would Myers be?

"If we hadn't moved," he says, "I'd probably be playing basketball right now. I'm very fortunate that we moved to Calgary."

scruickshank@theherald.canwest.com

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D Tyler Myers

Birthplace: Houston, Texas

Home town: DeWinton

Size: Six foot seven, 204 pounds

Shoots: Right

Amateur club: Kelowna Rockets (WHL)

2007-08: 65 GP, 6 G, 13 A, 19 Pts, 97 PIM

Central Scouting Bureau: Fourth-rated North American skater

In his own words: "I think (playing first-year midget at Notre Dame, in Wilcox, Sask.) was the best developing year for me to (prepare) for the WHL and the next level. It was a physical league, and that's what I needed to take that next step. When they called me up (to Kelowna), I felt I was ready for it."

Favourite team: Calgary Flames

Favourite player: Robyn Regehr

Favourite movie: Forest Gump

Favourite actor: Adam Sandler

Favourite group: Journey

Central Scouting says: "Tyler is the tallest player among the top-rated players. As a defenceman, that height translates into a great poke-check and great stickwork. At six foot seven, he still has a little bit of growing into his body to do. Obviously, comparisons are made to Zdeno Chara, who, it has been said, actually as a junior stumbled when he played for Prince George. There may be a night when the large feet of Myers get in his way a little bit, but to hear scouts talk, they won't get in his way for very many more years."

 
 
 
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