The Devils & # 39; Jack Hughes, the first draft pick in June, is only 18 years old and has no N.H.L. Goal, but his background was already spun into hockey folklore.
His hockey education can be traced back to explorations that included his father Jim, who led player development for the Toronto Maple Leafs from 2009 to 2015. Jack and his brothers Quinn and Luke saw N.H.L. Play and pepper your father with questions about this and that game, keep the DVR active, and add hours to the game.
The family kept designs for fantasy style players. Jack often asked his father hypothetically, "Would you trade this guy, dad, for this guy?"
Jack's mother Ellen, a former member of the United States National hockey team, taught the boys skating.
The appetite for and interest in hockey was there early on and was due to Jim's two seasons as assistant coach to Boston Bruins when Quinn 3 and Jack were not quite 2 years old. When Ellen brought her into the arena, they both watched intently. Jack in particular was fascinated, without the fidgeting that you would expect from a toddler.
"He would just sit in the baby boy with me, or he would sit in his own chair and just watch. He would literally have a bucket of popcorn in his lap and he would just sit down. And he would watch," Ellen said, adding with a laugh added, "Well, I never thought that was funny back then. But when I look back, I think," Wow, that was a little strange. "
On Saturday, Quinn and Jack Hughes can invent another story that can be told in a few years: They will play against each other for the first time as professionals, Jacks Devils as host of Quinns Canucks.
At the N.H.L. Draft this summer, Jack Hughes, a center, led a cohort of eight first-round picks and 17 selections from the U.S. national team's development program, where he broke the record for career points. He finished the tournament with 228 points and 39 points ahead of the runner-up. Stars like Patrick Kane from the Blackhawks, Auston Matthews from the Maple Leafs and Jack Eichel from the Sabers.
Quinn, who turned 20 on Monday, was number 7 in the 2018 draft and is still technically a novice like his younger brother. As a defender, he made his N.H.L. Debuted in March last year after playing five games for Vancouver, after participating in the US ice hockey development program and then studying for a year at the University of Michigan. (Luke, a 16-year-old defender, is now in the development program.)
"Now we only see the parents how it all unfolds," said Ellen Hughes, adding, "I would prefer not to have two sons entering their entry-level season in the same year."
The Hughes brothers are American and spent their founding years in a suburb of Toronto.
Jack gave up his bedroom to have William Nylander, a Leafs first choice from 2014, put in the family home for a few weeks. In the barn of retired Leafs star Wendel Clark, the brothers played ice hockey late at night.
Jim and Ellen Hughes emphasized that they emphasized playing indefinitely over scheduled hours.
The local tennis courts in Wedgewood Park were flooded with winter hockey and became an important location for shinny or street hockey, which the Hugheses O.D.R. called. There they played extended 15v15 games without changing lines, which required imagination and vision to find space.
"The next analogy I can use is basketball in Queens or the Bronx or Brooklyn, where they only play in the school yard," said Jim Hughes. “You can use it to work on your creativity, your mind and your hands and skills. Then, most importantly, because they had so much fun, you go up and down on a tennis court 200, 300 times a night, i.e. skating, skating, cutting, maneuvering. "
Ellen often dropped Jack off at the hotel Outdoor ice rink for long afternoons of pickup games, He always wanted to play, even if he had games in the Greater Toronto Hockey League later that day. Ellen said she agreed as long as he remained a good teammate. She would sharpen his skates between sessions and drop him off at league games with a conspiratorial reminder: "Don't tell anyone that you've been on the ice for the past three hours."
Hughes is listed at only 5-foot-10 and 170 pounds, and is widely praised for its exceptional view on ice and skating ability. John Wroblewski, Over the past two years, his coach Hughes has praised "his outstanding work and then his courage in this speed game" – a commitment with maximum effort for every game shift and every exercise.
Dan Ninkovich, a fitness trainer who has worked with Hughes for five years, compared the way the youngster changed directions while handling the puck with a crossover dribble in basketball. He even called Hughes "Allen" in honor of the former N.B.A. Point Guard Allen Iverson.
The left wing of Devils Taylor Hall shared the ice with Hughes for the first time two years ago and was impressed by the teen's pre-mature technique.
"I didn't know who he was, and we just skated summer," said Hall, 2010's No. 1 design and 2018 Hart Trophy winner, as the most valuable player in N.H.L. "He is a fairly slim child, obviously small."
But Hall said he could see the skills and ability to skate. "I was just asking, who is that?" He added.
Hall watched Hughes progress and saw an increase in strength that will help the teen's shot, Hall, who had become Hughes’s teammate and changing room neighbor this summer, praised his gameplay, off-ice behavior, and work ethic in the weight room.
Ray Shero, general manager of the Devils, said Hughes deserved to be included in the training camp and made it clear "where he could fit in our lineup and add some other players." The modern N.H.L. emphasizes offensive skill over brute physicality, a shift from the era of the Devils championship in the 1990s and early 2000s.
Shero was appointed General Manager of the Devils in May 2015, after the first of three consecutive seasons in which the team in the Metropolitan Division finished seventh or last with eight teams. The Devils reached the first round of playoffs in the 2017/18 season, before falling back to last place last season.
Shero has preached patience over the years of rebuilding the franchise and attributed this to the team Managing partnersJosh Harris and David Blitzer for their willingness to stick to this plan and the success of the arduous "process", followed by Harris and Blitzers N.B.A. Team, the Philadelphia 76ers. But winning the draft lottery and landing Hughes speeds up the process a bit, Shero said.
In its first seven N.H.L. gamesHughes only collected one point – a submission against the Rangers on Thursday evening. In five games, however, he scored three goals in the preseason, including two at the debut and a breakaway result against Rangers goalkeeper Henrik Lundqvist. Such moments are a reminder of why fans of several oppressed hockey companies introduced the hashtag #LoseForHughes last year.
"He has his own expectations," said Jim Hughes about Jack. "It wasn't weekend expectations. It's always one thing. It's practicing and practicing and practicing hard, practicing quickly. The stuff goes into the games."