Jaden Schwartz was drafted by the Blues in the first-round (14th overall) at the 2010 NHL Draft. He attended Colorado College, where he recorded 88 points (32 goals, 56 assists) in 60 games. He left school after two years, signing with the Blues in March 2012. He scored his first NHL goal in his first game on March 17 vs. Tampa Bay and had 3 points (2 goals, 1 assist) in seven NHL games last season.
Now, Schwartz is playing for the Peoria Rivermen. He currently ranks second on the club with 4 points (2 goals, 2 assists). Just before his season started, Schwartz talked to stlouisblues.com about getting involved in hockey, breaking Vincent Lecavalier's scoring record in high school and what it will take to become a regular in the Blues lineup.
STLOUISBLUES.COM: How did you get your start in hockey? Your older brother, Rylan, played hockey. Is that where your desire to play came from?
JS: I think I just fell in love with it right away, whether I was watching it or playing at outdoor rinks. Anytime I put on skates, I was the happiest kid ever. My older brother and sister played hockey as well, so watching them made me like it even more. Right away, it felt right for me.
BLUES: Where you grew up in Saskatchewan, did you have a backyard rink nearby?
JS: We had a backyard rink almost every winter. My dad would set it up every year, and as we got older, myself, my brother and sister would help out a little more. But my dad did most of the work.
BLUES: You’ve won plenty of midget and bantam tournaments, even breaking a scoring record once held by Vincent Lecavalier. Where did the skill come from at such an early age?
JS: I don’t know. I liked hockey and played a lot of it, and if you’re practicing and on the ice a lot, you’re going to get better. I had a lot of good coaches over the years, my dad was a good mentor, and my brother and sister were as well. I watched a lot of hockey, and you pick up things when you’re watching guys. I took it more seriously as I got older and eventually I just kept getting better. (Regarding the Lecavalier record), at the time, I didn’t even know. I think a few days later someone mentioned it to me, and I didn’t know if it was true or not. It’s pretty cool since he has a Stanley Cup. I think it’s a cool thing.
BLUES: Who were your some of your idols growing up? Who do you pattern your game after?
JS: I was a big Joe Sakic fan growing up. He was my favorite player ever since I was young. The way he played the game and the kind of person he was, he was a clutch performer. I liked that about him. Currently, I like Zach Parise and what he brings to the table. And Pavel Datsyuk as well.
BLUES: What went into your decision to leave Colorado College and turn pro late last season?
JS: It was a tough decision. I played two years in college, but with the offer that I got to go to St. Louis right away and play right away, it was a tough thing to say no to. I felt like during my two years at CC, I improved a lot, I had a lot of fun and we had good teams. I felt like I was ready for the next step and St. Louis did too, so it was a mutual agreement. When you’re getting offered to go to the big club, it’s pretty easy to say yes.
A Memorable Moment
Jaden Schwartz scored his first career goal before the end of the first period of his first NHL game on Mar. 17 against Tampa Bay. WATCH VIDEO
BLUES: In the first period of your first NHL game, you fired a shot past Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Dwayne Roloson for your first NHL goal. Describe that goal and what it meant to yourself and your family.
JS: It was on the power play late in the first period. There was a battle in the corner. (Chris) Stewart passed it over to (Jamie) Langenbrunner up top, who passed it over to (Carlo) Colaiacovo. I just followed it and went to the net. Colaiacovo took a shot on net through a screen and I was in the right place at the right time. It bounced on my stick. It was a pretty surreal moment. A lot of family and friends were excited for me. It was a dream come true to get that and to win the game, too, was awesome.
BLUES: How different is the pro game and the college game?
JS: It’s different. The pro life is different, the pro game is different. You’re playing with older guys who are bigger, stronger and faster. The pro game is different in a lot of areas, and you pick that up in practice. You see how crisp things are, how quickly the puck gets moved. It is quite a bit different, but if you’re watching other guys, you adjust and you can learn from them pretty quick.
BLUES: Do you feel like the seven games of NHL experience you got last year, in addition to living in St. Louis this past summer, was invaluable for your development?
JS: Yeah, big time. I was thankful I got to do that. It was an eye-opener and playing in seven games, you learn a lot and you learn that there’s not a lot of time, but I realize I probably could have held onto the puck more. You realize that you probably have more time than you think. Even when I wasn’t playing and just watching games, I learned that way, too. Being around the guys who have been in the NHL awhile helps out a lot.
BLUES: Does playing in the NHL open your eyes to what you’ll need to do to get back there and stay there?
JS: Yeah, for sure. Just watching the older guys and seeing how focused they are, everything they do on the ice, how hard they work, their feet are always moving, they pass hard, they shoot hard and everything they do is with a purpose. That’s something I learned and am going to take with me.
BLUES: When you get to the NHL and become a regular, what will it mean to you to wear the Blue Note?
JS: I’m hoping to get there. I’m here (in Peoria) improving, trying to get better and working hard. I’m hoping one day I can stick with the Blues and that’s my goal. That’s what I want to do. It’s a dream come true to stick with an NHL team. I don’t know how far that is away or when or if it’s going to happen, but I’m just looking to improve. I want to contribute anyway I can, so I’m just taking it day-by-day now.