Kuzma: Canucks’ humble hotshot Boeser will shine in all-star spotlight

 

 
 
 
 
Vancouver Canucks' Bo Horvat, right, got to meet rapper Snoop Dogg at the NHL All-Star Game and is confident his teammate Brock Boeser, left, will enjoy his Florida experience this weekend.
 
 

Vancouver Canucks' Bo Horvat, right, got to meet rapper Snoop Dogg at the NHL All-Star Game and is confident his teammate Brock Boeser, left, will enjoy his Florida experience this weekend.

Photograph by: Jeff McIntosh, The Province

More on This Story

 

Brock Boeser knows this much about the All-Star Game on Sunday in Tampa Bay.

The Vancouver Canucks’ hotshot rookie won’t be in the cross-checking crosshairs during the NHL’s freewheeling 3-on-3 competition.

“I don’t think I’m going to get hit from behind — hopefully,” the Calder Trophy contender chuckled Thursday. “I’m getting pretty excited and I’m really looking forward to it.

“I’m pretty quiet but it’s going to be fun and a great experience for me and my family. It’s a dream of most kids growing up and I’m starting to realize that now.”

Boeser was run hard into the boards on a brutal cross-check from Los Angeles Kings’ winger Trevor Lewis on Tuesday and responded by scoring on the ensuring 5-on-3 power play.

That part of his game — a quick and accurate wrist shot and booming slapper — will be on display in the skills competition Saturday and also Sunday when he could be aligned with the Oilers’ Connor McDavid and Flames’ Johnny Gaudreau.

Off the ice, there’s another side to the well-mannered Boeser that will attract attention, much like a year ago when Bo Horvat had his coming out party at the All-Star Game in Los Angeles. He even met Snoop Dogg during the rapper’s locker-room visit.

“Bo said to enjoy the weekend and take everything in because it goes by fast,” added Boeser. “I haven’t thought about that (celebrities) side of things, but if I do meet them it would be pretty cool.”

Thomas Vanek has been a willing mentor to Boeser. He believes his 20-year-old linemate will be lauded for the complete player he has quickly become — leading the team in scoring and all first-year players with 24 goals before facing the Buffalo Sabres on Thursday — and earn additional admiration for the person he has always been.

“I told him to go in and just have fun,” said Vanek, who participated in the 2009 All-Star Game in Montreal. “For me, it was great. We had a morning skate and there were 15,000 people in the stands watching us just goof around.

“It’s about meeting guys and that will be nice for Brock. He’ll be nervous, but guys like him you cheer for. He’s a nice kid. He’s not cocky or selfish or any of those things. He respects the game and he respects the older guys. And for him to have success, it’s awesome.”

The dutiful manner in which Boeser celebrates his goals — nothing loud, outlandish or over the top — also resonates with Vanek and the veteran core.

“That’s because he knows he’s good — which is good,” added Vanek. “His personality is that it’s his job to go out and score. A perfect example is when he got hit (Tuesday). His revenge was ‘I’m going to go out there and put another one in.’ It’s a good little edge he’s got to him.”

That comes from Boeser adhering to the rookie adage of having your eyes and ears open and your mouth shut. He skated with Vanek in the summer and soaked up the off-season tutelage like a sponge and was a quick learner. It gave Boeser a leg up on his first full NHL season.

“It’s huge,” said Boeser. “He’s a leader in the room and probably one of the greatest hockey minds I’ve met to this day. He really communicates well and teaches me a lot of things whether it’s on the ice or off.”

Coach Travis Green is enamoured by Boeser’s willingness to understand that his individual success is a product of a complete game and not cheating in any element of it. The Canucks’ coach spoke to the rookie before he snapped a six-game drought with a two-goal performance Tuesday.

It obviously worked.

“Things have happened fast for him,” said Green. “He has gone from making the team to playing in an All-Star Game among guys he has idolized growing up. It will be a great experience and nothing but good will come from it.

“You don’t see a lot of young guys having the success and that makes it easier for him as well. He’s confident and comfortable, but also smart and humble. And when you have success, you’re not pressing.”

Boeser admitted second-guessing and shot-release hesitation were byproducts of his brief slump. But not drifting from the basics or cheating to create scoring chances is why he rebounded. There’s an underlying understanding of how he needs to play — strong at both ends, hard on pucks and fierce on the forecheck — to help the team win and that’s rare in young players fixated by statistics.

“When I didn’t have the success, I maybe started to push a little bit,” said Boeser. “I got away from some little details that I needed to fix. I understood that my main focus should be competing hard and sticking to the system and the structure.”

Horvat’s all-star experience should make it a memorable weekend for Boeser.

“For me at a young age, going into the room with all the best players in the NHL, at some point you feel like do you really belong here and stuff like that,” recalled Horvat. “You have that kind of setback, but for me it was to embrace it and soak it all up and learn as much as you can.

“Brock definitely deserves to be there and he should do the exact same thing.”

And maybe meet a celebrity like Snoop Dogg.

“That was awesome,” said Horvat. “That’s the first big-time rapper I ever met and it was pretty funny when he came into the room and wanted to meet all the guys. It was a pretty cool experience.”

bkuzma@postmedia.com

Twitter.com/benkuzma

CLICK HERE to report a typo.

Is there more to this story? We’d like to hear from you about this or any other stories you think we should know about. Email vantips@postmedia.com

 
 
 
Font:
 
 
 
 
Vancouver Canucks' Bo Horvat, right, got to meet rapper Snoop Dogg at the NHL All-Star Game and is confident his teammate Brock Boeser, left, will enjoy his Florida experience this weekend.
 

Vancouver Canucks' Bo Horvat, right, got to meet rapper Snoop Dogg at the NHL All-Star Game and is confident his teammate Brock Boeser, left, will enjoy his Florida experience this weekend.

Photograph by: Jeff McIntosh, The Province

 
Vancouver Canucks' Bo Horvat, right, got to meet rapper Snoop Dogg at the NHL All-Star Game and is confident his teammate Brock Boeser, left, will enjoy his Florida experience this weekend.
Brock Boeser doesn't panic, he just performs in a remarkable rookie campaign.
 
 
 
 
 
 
We encourage all readers to share their views on our articles and blog posts. We are committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion, so we ask you to avoid personal attacks, and please keep your comments relevant and respectful. If you encounter a comment that is abusive, click the "X" in the upper right corner of the comment box to report spam or abuse. We are using Facebook commenting. Visit our FAQ page for more information.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Your voice