Ready for the big league
From Sweden and Switzerland to Belleville and North Burnaby, they have come to play. They are the newbies and they have arrived through free agency, the farm system and via trade.
Photograph by: Jeff Vinnick, NHLI via Getty Images
MIKE SANTORELLI, forward
HOME TOWN: Burnaby
The surprise of training camp, Santorelli will add considerable local content to the team. He grew up in Burnaby, went to Parkcrest Elementary, Burnaby North Secondary and played for Burnaby Winter Club. He is the oldest of three kids and his brother Mark, now playing in Austria, is a former Chilliwack Bruin and Western Hockey League scoring champ.
“I grew up being a Vancouver Canucks fan and watching guys like Pavel Bure, Markus Naslund and Todd Bertuzzi,” Santorelli said. “They were kind of idols to me.”
Santorelli didn’t play in the Dub, instead opting for the NCAA and the North Michigan Wildcats. His father was born in Naples, Italy, and his mother is Italian-Canadian. But Mike himself has a lighter complexion than most Italians. In fact, he almost looks Irish.
“It’s weird because I don’t look like anybody in my family,” he laughed. “All my friends and everybody kind of joke that maybe I was mixed up at birth.”
As a kid, Santorelli played soccer, baseball, lacrosse and basketball before settling on hockey. He has one year left on a finance degree at Northern Michigan, but is uncertain whether he’ll finish it off.
“Other things have come up now that I’m older that maybe I’d like to pursue instead,” he said.
BRAD RICHARDSON, forward
HOME TOWN: Belleville, Ont.
Being from Belleville, Richardson was exposed to that town’s first family of hockey, namely the Crawfords. Floyd is the 84-year-old patriarch while Marc played and coached in the NHL, Eric is the Canucks’ director of player personnel. Bobby, Pete and Lou were all involved (or still are) in hockey while Todd was an Olympic bobsledder.
“Floyd is probably the biggest legend in Belleville,” Richardson said. “He’s been around there forever. He caoched my dad way back in the day. I think I’ve seen Floyd in almost every rink I’ve ever been at. I’ve met all the Crawfords throughout my years.”
Richardson played minor hockey in Belleville, but went to Owen Sound for junior after he was selected by the Attack in the OHL draft.
Away from the rink, Richardson likes to golf, play tennis and attend music concerts. He and his girlfriend have two rescue dogs, breeds uncertain.
“They’re kind of like Chihuahua mixes, but we don’t know for sure what they are,” Richardson said. “Because they are rescue dogs, we don’t have any background on them.”
Richardson has an older brother, Curtis, who makes his living as a competitive fisherman.
EDDIE LACK, goalie
HOME TOWN: Norrtälje, Sweden
Lack fell in love with the sport as a six-year-old when he watched Sweden win the gold medal at the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway. He told his parents to sign him up.
“I wanted to try this hockey thing,” he said. “And that’s the way it went. I wasn’t a goalie that first year and players were kind of like everywhere on the ice. I think I started playing goalie when I was eight. I wasn’t the best skater, so it worked out pretty well.”
Lack also played soccer, but when he was 13, the family moved south to Stockholm so he could pursue his hockey career in a more favourable environment. “That’s kind of when soccer went away for me,” he noted.
Away from the rink, Lack likes to express himself — and demonstrate his sense of humour — on Twitter (@eddielack), although new coach John Tortorella has a chill on that since training camp began. He also likes to play Xbox and, in the summer, hit the golf courses.
YANNICK WEBER, defence
HOME TOWN: Bern, Switzerland
Born in Morges, which is near Geneva and Lausanne, Weber moved to Bern when he was three and grew up there. “It’s a very nice place to go home to in the summer,” said Weber, who is fluent in German, French and English. “It’s nice and relaxing and quiet and I recommend it to any tourist.”
Weber did a lot of skiing when he was young, but never found it as appealing as hockey, which he began playing at age six.
“My parents grew up big skiers, so it was kind of natural to do and something I really enjoyed as a kid,” he said. “I had it in my head that maybe I could be a professional ski racer, but I was more in love with hockey.”
Weber played for Switzerland in the 2006 world juniors in Vancouver and then moved to Canada the following season to play junior for the Kitchener Rangers of the OHL.
In the summer, he likes to sail and play golf while cooking is a year-round hobby for him. And, no, he is not related to Shea Weber.
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