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Sam is the Man: Kootenay Ice's Reinhart could go No. 1 in 2014 NHL Draft
As the PA announcer calls his name, Sam Reinhart circles confidently before picking up the puck at centre ice and bearing down on the Russian goalie.
It’s November 14, 2012, Game 5 of the Subway Super Series, which pits the best junior-aged Canadian players against their Russian counterparts. Tonight’s game at the Pacific Coliseum, witnessed by 11,000 fans, has been a goaltending dual, leaving the nail-biter shootout to solve the 0-0 deadlock.
As Reinhart closes in on the Russian net, the nifty centreman smoothly dekes and scores. His WHL teammates jump off the bench to mob him. The WHL all-stars win.
Moves like these — especially in clutch situations — have made Reinhart, 17, a potential first overall pick in the June 2014 NHL draft.
Last week, former NHL GM Craig Button, who is now TSN’s director of scouting, released his early predictions for next June’s draft. His two top picks are Reinhart and Aaron Ekblad of the Ontario Hockey League’s Barrie Colts.
Of course, Sam won’t be the first Reinhart to pull an NHL sweater over his head.
The West Van-based Reinhart family is a hockey factory that keeps churning them out.
First came dad Paul Reinhart, who was selected by the Atlanta Flames 12th overall in the 1979 NHL draft. Then it was his eldest son Max’s turn in 2010 when he was selected by the Calgary Flames 64th overall.
Last year, the Reinhart’s middle son Griffin, a talented defenceman, was selected fourth overall by the New York Islanders.
And now, the next NHL-bound Reinhart could get family bragging rights when it comes to being the highest pick in the draft.
But right now, the youngest in the family isn’t daydreaming about draft day.
“I don’t think about that too much,” says Reinhart.
And when he’s at home in West Vancouver hanging out with his buddies from Collingwood, he says hockey is rarely a topic of discussion.
And, if you think the Reinharts are talking puck all the time, at the family dinner table you’d be mistaken.
“Not very often,” says the polite and humble top prospect.
That’s not to say hockey isn’t a big part of their lives.
When the three brothers are back home in the summer they’re often working out together at Level 10 Fitness in North Van.
“It’s definitely great to workout with them,” he says, noting that it creates some friendly summer competition.
As a kid, Sam wasn’t pushed into hockey — he wanted to play, especially after watching his dad and brothers hit the ice.
But, along with playing minor hockey at Hollyburn, he also participated in many other sports growing up, including tennis, soccer and baseball.
Reinhart credits his whole family with his hockey success. His dad, a former all-star d-man, watched all his boys’ games, live or on tape, and always gave them feedback and pointers.
His mom knows the game well too, adds Sam. And his brothers helped pave the way. During the 2011–12 season, Sam got to play with big brother Max for the Ice.
“It was a huge advantage to come in at 16 and billet with him,” he says.
And while he’s managed to get in some tennis and soccer with the neighbours since he’s been home, even in the summer if often feels like hockey season.
In June Sam was invited to participate in the Team Canada camp for the world juniors, where he was the second-youngest player on the ice. Two months earlier, he was named captain of the Kootenay Ice for the upcoming season.
And next summer figures to be even busier as he will have to make plans for the NHL draft in Philadelphia.
Still there’s still plenty of hockey and hard work between now and the draft, and his singular focus right now is on the upcoming WHL season.
“Day by day in Kootenay,” he says.
Justin Beddall: email@example.com