Troy Stecher was voted the Vancouver Canucks Best Defenceman by the fans in his rookie year.
Yet, that doesn’t change his attitude about heading into his second NHL training camp, especially with new coach Travis Green.
“I don’t feel like anybody thinks their spot is safe. I have to come in and earn a spot,” said Stecher, who captained the Penticton Vees to a 2012 RBC Cup. “I don’t feel like I’m given anything. You have got to earn their respect and trust. Teammates as well.
“We’re getting younger now. Having a fresh face behind the bench is obviously exciting,” continued Stecher, who was in Penticton during the Western Canada Cup in May. “Willie (Desjardins) was a great coach. We all loved playing for him. He had that room the way he wanted it. We just weren’t as successful as we wanted to be. I think with a new coach, it’s going to be good for our team. Guys are going to come into camp more prepared.”
Canucks camp officially opened Wednesday, and prior to during the Canucks Young Stars Classic, general manager Jim Benning confirmed to TSN’s Bob McKenzie during an interview that the Richmond native is part of the team’s top-six blueliners.
Reflecting on his rookie season, Stecher said the biggest thing was learning a lot about himself. He had a very strong training camp, but was still sent to the American Hockey League’s Utica Comets, where he played four games. He got his chance due to injuries and never looked back. In 71 games, Stecher put up three goals and 24 points along with a minus-16 rating. He ranked fifth among NHL rookie defenceman in scoring while averaging 19 minutes, 58 seconds of ice time. Aside from Luca Sbisa playing all 82 games, the only other Canucks defenceman to play as much as Stecher was Ben Hutton, who also played 71 games.
“The guys that I was surrounded with and my teammates, were some of the best guys I have ever met,” said Stecher, who was mobbed by Vees fans wanting to talk, get his autograph, and have photos taken with him. “I know that Henrik and Daniel, they are known to be good people, to meet them first-hand was pretty incredible. They really do care about every single person they come across.”
The Sedins, defence partner Alex Edler and now former Canuck Alex Burrows, were players Stecher learned from. Burrows was really good with the younger players, said Stecher. The Ottawa Senators forward got the younger players to mix with the veterans.
Everyone contributed in what was a tough season, but that’s what Stecher said made it special.
“We didn’t do as well as we would have liked. Away from the rink that we were a pretty tight-knit group,” said Stecher. “We wanted to go out there and do well. Things don’t happen that way all the time.”
Stecher experienced challenges handling the rigors of an NHL season. People have doubted him at every level. When when he arrived in Penticton at 16, there was an unknown of how he would do. He was motivated to prove people wrong.
“There is different challenges you have to face. There are some big bodies,” said Stecher, listed at five-foot-10, 190 pounds on Canucks.com. “You are going to get some bumps and bruises. You’re a National Hockey League player. You’re pretty fortunate. A bruise on your leg is not the end of the world. It’s just a mindset.”
His mindset heading into camp will be to show he deserves to make the team.