The Chilliwack Chiefs are welcoming the son of a Stanley Cup champion into the fold.
Skyler Brind’Amour has committed to the team for the 2017-18 season, bringing a familiar surname to the BCHL.
Skyler’s dad, Rod, played 21 big-league seasons with the St. Louis Blues, Philadelphia Flyers and Carolina Hurricanes. Between 1988 and 2010 he logged 1,643 regular season and playoff games.
Rod is a member of the NHL’s 1,000 point club (1,184, including 459 goals) and a two time winner of the Selke Trophy as the league’s top defensive forward.
He won an NHL championship with the Hurricanes in 2006 and casts such a large shadow that we’ve spent the first six paragraphs of Skyler’s introductory article talking about his father.
“It’s been a blessing because my dad knows the game and he can help me with a bunch of stuff,” the 18 year old said. “He’s watched all my games and helped me become a better hockey player for sure.
“That’s been huge and I’m very thankful for that.”
Having Brind’Amour on his back raises expectations for Skyler. Fairly or unfairly, people will compare him to his famous father and those are massive skates to fill.
If he were Skyler Smith or Skyler Jones instead, the burden of those expectations might be eased. But the teenager, who will come into next season on the radar of NHL scouts, doesn’t seem bothered by any of it.
“I’m a pretty quiet guy who just likes to get things done,” he said.
Skyler has already been rated 157th among North American skaters by the NHL’s Central Scouting Bureau. Standing six-foot-two and weighing 175 pounds, he has the frame to add muscle and be a physical force at the junior A level. Rod was a tank on skates, so the genetics are there.
“He was a bit stronger than I am right now but I’m trying to get there,” Skyler said.
Rod was a legend in the faceoff circle, one of the best the NHL has seen.
“He says you’ve got to get in there and own the circle,” Skyler said “Get in there, get low and you’ve got to try and cheat a bit as well.”
A smart and instinctive player, Skyler also shares his dad’s competitive fire.
“I’m competive in everything I do and it’s someting I’ve worked at in my game, getting my compete level up for every game and every shift,” Skyler said. “It’s something I worked on last season and something I continue to work on.”
Skyler spent much of last season training with the vaunted U.S. Development Team Program (USDTP) and had options on where to go.
Chiefs head coach/general manager Jason Tatarnic reached out to Skyler at one of his tournaments and whatever he said resonated.
“We had a good conversation and it was mostly just the honesty,” Skyler recalled. “He doesn’t guarantee anything to anybody, but he talked about where he sees me fitting in.
“He said he feels I can have a good effect on the team and I felt really comfortable with him.
“My dad and I feel he’s a good guy and a good coach and I’m going to learn a lot from him.”
Tatarnic has an extra card to play in recruiting this year, with his team hosting the 2018 Royal Bank Cup tournament.
The chance to play for a national junior A title next spring played a big role in Skyler’s decision.
“There were other options and tons of leagues to play in, but playing in the RBC Cup is something cool and an added bonus for sure,” Skyler said. “I don’t know too much about it yet, but I look forward to it for sure.”
Skyler is likely to be a one-and-done in Chilliwack.
He already has a commitment to the University of Michigan State in his back pocket, coincidentally the same school his dad went to in the mid 1980’s. Tatarnic is happy to have the kid for one season and looks forward to seeing Skyler’s development.
“The one thing Rod insisted on during the recruiting process is I had to go watch Skyler play live,” Tatarnic said. “When I did, I saw a big player who skates well, has great vision and has a ton of potential.
“He’s got some things he has to work on too, but that’s OK. I think every player should be working on something at the junior level, and what separates good players from great players is the great ones are willing to work on those areas.”
Skyler says he has high expectations for himself and the team and can’t wait to get started.
“First and foremost I want to win, because that’s the main goal always,” he said. “Personally I want to get better and stronger and just be the best I can.”