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Guy Behind the Guy: Zach's L.A. Experience

Monday, 10.20.2008 / 7:08 PM ET / Tracking the Storm
Carolina Hurricanes
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Guy Behind the Guy: Zach\'s L.A. Experience

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If he was disappointed to learn that he was returning to his junior team, Zach Boychuk sure didn’t show it today. He was nothing but upbeat following his conversation with Ron Francis and Peter Laviolette on the plane. On the tarmac outside our team plane upon our return to Raleigh, he shook hands with teammates and staff members with what even seemed like a twinkle in his eye. He just smiled and said, “See ya next year.”

Mike Sundheim
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Perhaps he has that aura about him because this is what he expected all along: to return to his junior team, the Lethbridge Hurricanes, for another season and represent his home nation of Canada at World Juniors again. Perhaps it was because he is a very confident young man who knows his time will come. Or perhaps he was so upbeat still relishing the moments that the past few weeks provided him.

As disappointing as his surgery this summer was in that it prevented him from having a full NHL training camp, the experiences the young forward collected during his bonus time with the NHL’s Hurricanes could have just as great of an impact on his development. He got to watch what Rod Brind’Amour and Eric Staal and Ray Whitney do on a daily basis to prepare to play National Hockey League regular-season games. He saw what NHL travel is like to the highest degree, taking a cross-continent road trip with the team. And he witnessed the speed and intensity of this sport at its highest level from the best possible vantage point – on the ice, in real games that count in the standings.

For the last few weeks we’ve watched him – from sitting wide-eyed watching practices when he was unable to participate to taking the ice for his first NHL shift. Two things became apparent during that time. One, that Boychuk has some serious skill and with his continued hard work, his time in the NHL will come. And two, that time wasn’t quite here just yet. But now that he has all of these experiences, he can take them back to Alberta knowing just how much harder he will have to work to reach this level. It’s certainly been fun to watch, and it is exciting to think about how much the last few weeks had an impact on such a bright prospect. I snapped some photos of Zach with my BlackBerry Curve on Friday, when he made his NHL debut at Staples Center, to try to capture some of his experience.

See ya next year, Zach.

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