Montreal – In his first five years at the Tampa Bay Lightning Company, Daniel Walcott touched the National League only by misfortune or by his own initiative.
He decided to extend his spring in Florida after an early dismissal with the American League School Club. That said, he has teamed up with a big club to treat an injury at training camp. Good stories to tell, but nothing to brag about. His ultimate goal, though he felt he was getting closer, avoided him.
The phone rang last April. In a shortage of players, Lightning invited him to his reserve squad. His first true NHL recall.
From Defender to Attacker: The Transition to Pay
“At first it suited me,” Quebecker said from his hotel room in Tampa. I knew I wasn’t going to play right away, maybe not. But being around guys, doing tours, it was a wonderful experience. “
This sympathetic short story has been in huge proportion over the past few days. On Sunday, Walcott received a call from head coach Joan Cooper to warn him that he could be called up in the final game of the regular season. The next day, after being reduced to a nightmare of fear, the 27-year-old rookie got the confirmation he had been waiting for.
But Cooper didn’t tell him everything. Hours before his first NHL game, not until he arrived at the arena, Walcott realized he would form a line with two black players like him, Matthew Joseph and Jemel Smith. Never seen it in more than 100 years of league history.
“We laughed, we thought it was funny and we’re glad the three guys were great friends. But we did not really realize how much of an impact we would have in the world of hockey,” he agreed in reconsideration. Is at him Cell And he said to me: ‘Hey, did you play his first game?’ “
“There, I think about it and I realize it’s a beautiful moment, a big moment. I hope we can be an inspiration to young people of color and that we are.
On the ice, the former captain of the Blainville-Boisbryand Armada found a way to leave his mark. With a 4-0 lead, he was credited with seven hits and started the fight with Colossus Kevin Connaught.
“Actually my character, I know very well what it is. My game is very simple. Finish my hits, reach the target, take a few shots, stir the soup a little. I am happy on that topic. Of course I want to continue the game. I want to be One and done. I think there are other things to show as well. Like I said, I played my first, I was happy with my first, but I hope I can give more and get a chance to do so. “
Series of rejections
Whatever its sequel, Daniel Walcott’s story has something to inspire young people of all backgrounds and all origins.
In his early teens, after his first season at the P-V AA level, he moved to Rigad with his mother and joined Collage Bourget. “We really don’t have the means to make tournaments and travel in AA. So I played on BB that year, ”explained a local from Île-Perrot.
From the following year, Walcott gave up hockey altogether and instead focused on football. “I was involved in everything. I had as much fun with my boyfriends as any high school student,” he said simply.
“I did not make the team at Segep Saint-Laurent”
After a while, Walcott decides to return to hockey. In the first section of the Quebec College Network, Segep aims to play against Saint-Laurent’s Patriots. But his slender track record only earned him an invitation to training camp, where he could not convince anyone to give him a chance. So he set out to join his father in Chicago and found a group there to welcome him. “It gave like a second Boost To my profession. “
A year later, Walcott targeted two junior circuits in the United States, the United States Hockey League (USHL) or the North American Hockey League (NAHL). “I did five or six camps, I think, and there was always the same answer. I was too young or I was considered a foreign player and there was not much space available for teams. “
But an instructor from a small college in Missouri notices him and offers him a scholarship. Walcott spent a year there, then one of his coaches knew Jean-Franకోois Howell well, then the Armada pilot, who asked him to say a word about him. Not only did he earn his place in the training camp next fall, he also became the main and great leader of his new team’s defensive brigade.
Later this year, he was drafted by the New York Rangers in the fifth round.
The correct position
Two years after returning to Quebec, there is another hurdle in front of Walcott as it leaps into the professional ranks. In Syracuse, which ends after he trades for Lightning, there is a rush in the defenseman’s place.
“At one point we went to St. John’s with nine defensemen and nine forwards. The coach, Rob Jetler, who is now an assistant here in Tampa, asked if I could play offense to help the team. I said ok. I wanted to be in line. I did well, he liked my physical presence in check-before. So for that year, I did half and half. Some matches, I started offensively and ended up defending. At other times it is the opposite. “
When Benoit Groolks took over from Jetler the following year, Walcott said he wanted a real chance to win as a defender. But injuries in the attacking party motivate him once again to volunteer for the collective good.
“Ben saw me with guilt for the first time and liked what he saw. So I was left in the same situation, I was playing for two places. But I realized that I was very competent on crime, that Ben liked it and no longer wanted to be caught between two places.”
The intersection occurs at the end of his entry agreement. To increase his chances of reaching the National League, Walcott decided to think a little more about himself and focus on a particular position once and for all. He sits down with the Groolks, consults with Armada and his mentor Joel Bouchard and decides he is now a full-time striker.
Even today, thanks to Benoit Grools for supporting him in his decision.
“You know, you have to find your way to play in the National League,” Grawls told us last February. Scott Walker, I trained in the Hockey Canada program, was a defenseman in the Ontario Junior League. Very good defender. And then he played for 12-15 years in the National League on the right because he found his way. “
“Daniel Walcott, not to mention Scott Walker, this is an energy player, this is a plague to the enemy. At home, we developed him into a shorthand player. He improved his tracks a lot on the ice, the way he reacted and so on. He is a man who sacrifices himself for the team by blocking shots. Overall, he made a good decision to play offense. Let’s see where all this takes him … “
Three months later, when Joan Cooper called Daniel Walcott to ask if he was ready, a question came up for him. “If you play tomorrow, where do you want to play well?” “
“Is he ‘Left Wing or Right Wing?’ But I said ‘Do you mean defense or attack?’ New Lightning No.85 smiles and he thinks it’s ridiculous and says to me: “Yeah, this is true! If we ever need to … “It always follows me, but it does not break and damage my chances of survival.”