On one hand, when a small player gets knocked down by a big player – specifically one half a foot taller than he is and 50 pounds heavier – it seems like a massacre. But, if you’re a Canucks’ fan, on the other hand, there was something beautiful about watching that experience.
In essence, what you saw was the size of the heart of the little man who’s going to run the defence of the Vancouver Canucks for the next decade or so. That person is Quinn Hughes.
The Canucks’ Postseason Play Surprised Many NHL Thinkers
The Canucks entered the postseason play as a bit of a surprise. Few hockey pundits really believed 2019-20 was Vancouver’s season. But there they were, led by a couple of youngsters. One was in his second year – Elias Pettersson; and, the other just finishing his rookie season – Hughes.
The postseason series each had played prior to facing the Vegas Golden Knights was filled with tough hockey. But that hockey seemed like a skate in the park compared to what they experienced when matched up against the Golden Knights. Both players, from a Canucks fans’ perspective, were being roughed up constantly. The camera often panned down to see each Canucks’ star momentarily laying on the ground, then looking up, then getting back into the play.
A Coming Out Party for Pettersson and Hughes
In one sense, it was ugly hockey. However, in another sense, it seemed to me that I was watching a defining moment for the twosome. It was a coming-out party for both young men.
Neither ever quit. It was like the old Timex watch commercial from years ago that suggested that a Timex was a watch that “takes a lickin, and just keeps on tickin.”
Every time the youngsters were knocked down, they got back up. By the end of the series, although the Canucks lost to the Golden Knights, fans knew that they had two tough young players in Peterson and Hughes.
As 2020-21 Training Camp Begins, Pettersson Reminds Hughes More’s Coming
Now that the Canucks’ training camp has started for the 2020-21 season, when being questioned at the end of the first training-camp practice, Pettersson was asked if he had any advice for younger Hughes. Without not answering, Pettersson politely really didn’t answer the question.
In the video below, titled “What advice does Pettersson have for Hughes heading into sophomore season?” you can hear Pettersson talking about the “attention” (which means being roughed up consistently) Hughes will receiving just because he’s a “special player” in the NHL. Then the hockey writer asked Pettersson if he had offered any advice for Hughes heading into his second year in the league.
The Reality without the Advice
The writer asks Pettersson “How different is year two from year one?” then immediately asks “Have you offered or said anything to Quinn about what this year is going to be like?”
Pettersson’s answer – or really non-answer – is wise. First, it lands on the issue I began the post with by hinting at the two young players’ treatment by the Golden Knights. Although Pettersson wisely never says it specifically, and he certainly doesn’t come across as a whiner, if you’re a Canucks’ fan you’d have to have been in orbit around Jupiter not to know exactly what Pettersson was referring to.
Pettersson praises Hughes for his maturity and his skill when he says, “I think for me my second year (was different because) they knew who I was.” And then he added that becoming known meant “I was getting more attention.”
The Bottom Line for Hughes?
Pettersson added, “I think Quinn was already getting that attention last season especially in the playoffs, so … he already has their attention on him. Pettersson noted about this season, “It’s still first day of training camp and he’s a smart player and he learns fast.”
In other words, Peterson is warning Hughes that more attention is coming; but, he’s also saying that he believes Hughes is ready for that attention. In other words, reading between the lines from the third-year player to the second-year player, get ready to be roughed up, and don’t quit playing good hockey.
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