January 15, 2014
One narrative that's emerged with Sam Reinhart during his draft year is that he was born to be a hockey player, albeit not to the exclusion of the entire sports smorgasbord.
Granted, the no-plan-B urgency that's all too common might not be the same when one is the son of a well-remembered NHL defenceman, Paul Reinhart. But it's helped the 18-year-old Reinhart, third in his parents Theresa and Paul's puck-chasing progeny, gain a sense of perspective about himself that's helped him keep the pressures of high-level hockey in perspective. Some sports parents could stand to take note.
"Even now it gives us an opportunity to kind of get away and take a break," says Sam Reinhart, the Kootenay Ice captain who will wear the 'C' for Team Cherry during Wednesday's CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, which was his father's NHL stamping ground for eight seasons in the 1980s during the heyday of the Battle of Alberta. "In the summer we're all active and into other sports. Tennis, we're soccer fans as well. We're not smothered by hockey at all — never were.
"There's different philosophies on how to train in the summer. We feel even with a week of skating you can be back to top shape. Obviously skating will help. But you have to take some time to relax. Growing up, we were never big on spring hockey tournaments, getting on the best teams possible. Spring hockey was more for hanging out with friends."
Reinhart has crossed the T's and dotted the I's throughout this season with Kootenay, where he's counted 53 points in just 34 games while also filling a two-way role for Team Canada during the world junior championship. He's factored into 40 per cent of the Ice's scoring even though he's missed a quarter of the schedule due to injury and the WJC. There is a sense that the 6-foot-1, 183-pound Reinhart might be capable of earning an extended stay in the NHL full-time next fall as a 19-year-old, depending on which organization acquires him in the draft this June.
"To be professional, the consistency factor is huge. Overall that's definitely a focus of mine. To see the work that has to be done to get to next level, focus is huge.
Within the WHL, Sam is considered to be the closest to cornering the market on hockey smarts.
"There was nothing I could tell Sam past the age of 10," Paul Reinhart says. "By the time he was 10 he had everything he has now."
The top of the draft appears to be in wildly in flux. While another Sam — Bennett, of the Kingston Frontenacs, is NHL Central Scouting's top-ranked North American prospect, other leading sources credit both Reinhart and Barrie Colts defenceman Aaron Ekblad with a case for going No. 1.
"I'm sure it's pretty exciting," Reinhart says. "I'm not too focused on it. It's all a list on paper. The focus is to go to a team where it's a good fit."
Reinhart will be one half of an endless amount of brotherly hockey trivia; he and Griffin Reinhart, a New York Islanders first-rounder who plays for the Edmonton Oil Kings, were just the third pair of siblings to represent Canada in the world junior. They will likely also join the short list of brothers who were both top 5 picks.
Of course, the Calgary Flames' 28th-place standing in the NHL is the jumping-off point for talk of Sam and reuniting with his oldest brother and former Kootenay teammate, 21-year-old Max Reinhart.
"We kind of joke about it, I was fortunate enough to play with Max for a year and against Griffin. Nowadays, you can’t hide from one another.”
1. How have you managed to keep that fine line between being good down low, be hard on the puck and yet be almost penalty-free (30 PIMs across 193 regular and post-season WHL games)?
"The biggest thing is that you have to keep your feet moving in those situations and be smart about it. My philosophy is I'd always rather have a couple shifts then spend a couple minutes in the box. I'd rather play smart and try to have the physical play"
2. Who's been the toughest defenceman you have encountered in the Dub?
"Griffin, for sure. I don't know that if it is that he's trying extra hard, but he's a big presence back there and a tough guy to battle in the corners because of his size and strength."
3. Who's your favourite pro athlete and what have you learned from the way he carries himself?
"In all sports, probably [the Argentine soccer star Lionel] Messi. I'm a huge soccer fan, watch him a lot. I probably know more, though, about Sidney Crosby because we're in North America. I look up to him and he's definitely a classy guy off the ice."
4. Between Max, Griffin and yourself, who's the most likely to get out of doing a chore around the house?
"Definitely Max, 100 per cent Max ... I don't think I liked any of them, but I definitely try to do my part."
5. Favourite movie and TV show?
"Favourite movie is probably Dodgeball. I don't really have a TV show off the top of my head. Watch a lot of Netflix." (Understandable, TV shows demand so much commitment these days.). "It was 90210, a little Modern Family."
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet. Please address any questions, comments or concerns to firstname.lastname@example.org.