you can't take the small town out of a boy
This week I have had the pleasure of interviewing several young hockey players for a project I am working on for this year's Legacy Tournament. By coincidence, both boys spent some of their formative years in small towns in Western Canada and you can tell. There is a difference with these kids, a certain "gee whiz, golly, aw shucks" innocence that pervades their speech and thought process. I must admit that I like it. It's not hard to see why team general managers and coaches look to the rural areas to supply so many players. The kids are respectful, willing to listen and in short, coachable.
I would guess that there is a lot less MTV and Wii and a lot more muckin' out stalls and fishin'. They are a little quieter about themselves and their accomplishments and the work ethic takes form on the ice. In interviews with rodeo contestants, the same sort of shy determination tends to come forward and has an instant appeal to most of us. By contrast, I listened to a radio interview of an ultimate fighting participant the other day who hails from LA. This kid, who has lost 4 of his last 6 fights was very full of himself and how good he was. He never missed an opportunity to put down his opponent and declare himself almost invincible.
Sure I am generalizing and we all know people who are the exception to the rule that I am trying to establish but in the long run, it's not hard to see why the NHL is populated by so many small town boys.