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Saturday, January 28, 2023

2023 NHL Draft: The spotlight doesn’t win Connor Bedard

REGINA | The spotlight had already been on Connor Bedard for a few years, but this season it is literally on him. And that doesn’t bother him.

• Read also: Meet Connor Bedard, the prodigy who makes the world of hockey dream

• Read also: Can Adam Fantilli dethrone Connor Bedard?

Curiously, the expectations placed on him and the comparisons with some of the best players in the world don’t seem to affect him too much.

« I don’t have the impression that it’s a very different year from the others, » mentioned Bedard, a young man of few words, during the visit of the Log in Regina last October.

“I show up at the arena and focus on the team. We have so many things to think about during a season that I don’t focus too much on outside noise. […] I’m used to being scrutinized and it’s something that happened gradually. It’s kind of become normal. My family also helps me a lot to manage this. But it’s not madness, I don’t get recognized on the streets except here in Regina and sometimes at home. »

A year like any other? Truly?

Made aware of this declaration, his agent, Greg Landry, sketches a smile.

“He’s been in the spotlight for so many years that it’s no different for him. It’s a different pressure, sure, but he’s been through so much over the past few years, whether it’s when he got his exemption to go straight to midget at 14 or when he applied for status. exceptional player. »

Connor Bedard is attracting the attention of the hockey world this season.

Photo Keith Hershmiller (WHL)

Connor Bedard is attracting the attention of the hockey world this season.

“Connor lives with pressure every season, so it’s nothing really different for him. He is a youngster who leaves nothing to chance in his preparation. The work he puts in means that each time he arrives for the exam, he feels like he has studied enough”, image the one who works for the firm Newport Sports Management of Don Meehan.

Take nothing for granted

Not very talkative by nature, Bedard already perfectly masters the art of avoiding controversy in the media.

No question, therefore, of starting to look at the alignments of the NHL teams and making projections on which risk finishing in the shallows and having a chance to draft in the first place. Because he refuses, first and foremost, to take for granted that he will be the first choice overall.

The Regina Pats' No. 98 and WHL leading scorer is a marked player.

Photo courtesy of the Regina Pats

The Regina Pats’ No. 98 and WHL leading scorer is a marked player.

“I don’t even know yet if I will be drafted first or tenth. I don’t want to bring bad luck on myself by taking things for granted. Some people are already making predictions as to who I will be drafted by. It is still early. If my season goes well, maybe I will, at the end of the year, start thinking about it, but for the moment, it is not the case.

A humble family

Talking to his parents, we realize that the fact that Connor Bedard does not feel that the 2022-2023 season is different from the others does not come from a recklessness characteristic of a 17-year-old youngster. Well, maybe a little, but above all it comes from a humility shared by the whole family.

Obviously, the father of the young hockey player, Thomas Bedard, is well aware of the comparisons about his son, whether with Sidney Crosby or Connor McDavid, or even Auston Matthews because of his powerful wrist shot.

The 17-year-old athlete scored four goals and added as many assists in seven games at the last World Juniors.

File photo, QMI Agency (John Morris)

The 17-year-old athlete scored four goals and added as many assists in seven games at the last World Juniors.

“These are all players with a fairly full curriculum vitae”, reacts first of all the father when he is reminded to whom his son is compared.

« One day at a time »

He prefers to wait before playing the game of comparisons.

“We won’t know what happens to Connor until he reaches that level. For now, we’re taking it one day at a time. All players are unique and different and we will see how he fares when he has played one, two and three seasons in the NHL. It is an extremely difficult league and it is a challenge to play in it but, even more, to perform in it. Let’s wait and see before making comparisons.


REGINA | If Connor Bedard doesn’t feel like it’s been a very different year, it’s probably because a whole plan was put in place at the start of the season, together between the Pats and the young prodigy’s agent, Greg Landry of Newport Sports Management.

During the Journal’s single visit to Regina, the team’s director of media relations, Dante De Caria, had to refuse two requests for interviews with outside media.

« It’s like that every day. Today, I was asked for an hour with Connor. We cannot afford to accept these requests because there are too many. We try to prioritize our local media because they, when Connor is gone, they will still be there”, mentions, with reason it must be admitted, the friendly publicist and descriptor of the team’s matches. The latter is a great baseball fan who, after an internship in the media department of the Toronto Blue Jays, decided to join the Pats.

A balance

« You have to find a balance, » says Greg Landry. Connor is a very accommodating person and he always says yes to requests. He is honored that people are showing interest in him. Our job, Dante and I, is to make sure we protect his schedule as much as possible so he can focus on his game on the ice. Sometimes we have to play bad guys by refusing requests.”

As for NHL teams wishing to speak with him, they must go directly through the circuit’s recruiting center to schedule a meeting.

“As an organization, we have to set a framework. We get a lot of items for Connor to sign from fans. But we can’t ask him to spend an hour signing autographs,” adds head coach and general manager John Paddock.

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