MONTREAL - Without a doubt, the highlight of Greg Pateryn 's summer came two months ago in Southern California.
Back on July 2nd, Pateryn and his long-time girlfriend Stefani - a California native - tied the knot at The Resort at Pelican Hill in Newport Beach in front of 220 family members and friends on site to celebrate the momentous occasion right along with them.
The 26-year-old defenseman, who met his future wife through mutual friends while vacationing in Los Angeles years earlier, described the couple's wedding ceremony and everything surrounding it as "the best day of his life."
"The entire week was pretty amazing, and then the day itself was absolutely perfect in every way. I think the temperature was in the high 70s and there wasn't a cloud in the sky. We had that perfect breeze right off of the water. You can't really put a moment like that into words. Everyone had a good time. You couldn't ask for more," shared Pateryn, who still can't believe just how quickly the events of that picture perfect Saturday evening passed by.
"The crazy thing is that everyone tells you that it goes by so fast, and it literally went by like the snap of my fingers. You wish you could go back and be a fly on the wall to experience it all again. You don't want to feel like you missed anything," added Pateryn, whose guests included Jeff and Julie Petry and Brian and Alyssa Flynn, as well as his former University of Michigan roommates, Luke Glendening and Brandon Burlon. "I guess that's why you pay people to video the entire event."
Greg and Stefani spent the next couple of weeks honeymooning in Hawaii where they enjoyed all that prime destinations like Maui and Kauai have to offer tourists from all over the world.
"That was my first time in Hawaii. Those islands are amazing. Maui was more about being laid back and sitting on the beach. We had a 1957 Porsche, so we drove around. That was definitely the highlight there," said Pateryn, a classic and exotic car enthusiast. "In Kauai, we went up and down the Napali Cost in a boat one day, and then we took a helicopter ride around the entire island the next. That was one of the coolest things we've ever experienced together."
On the training front, this marks the third straight year that Pateryn has spent his entire summer with Stefani in the Golden State. The couple resides in Laguna Hills, about 30 miles southeast of Anaheim.
In addition to working out with world-renowned performance coach Scot Prohaska at the STACK Velocity Sports Performance facility in Costa Mesa, Pateryn has also been skating with members of the Los Angeles Kings four to five times per week at their Toyota Sports Center practice facility in El Segundo. Regulars include Anze Kopitar, Tyler Toffoli, Jeff Cater, Dustin Brown, Dwight King, Alec Martinez and Kyle Clifford, among others.
These aren't just standard skates for Pateryn, though. He's been actively trying to fine-tune his current skill set and bring new tools to his game with the help of video technology. After dissecting clips featuring top-notch rearguards like Norris Trophy winners Drew Doughty and Erik Karlsson, the Sterling Heights, MI native will use his ice time to work on key traits that he believes really separate them from the pack.
"I think I've taken a lot of steps on the ice this summer. I'm kind of not only analyzing my game in terms of the way I play, but also looking at the way other players play, too, taking stuff from their game and trying to incorporate it into mine. Whether it's how they play rushes, pick up pucks along the wall, break them out, or how they're standing and handling pucks at the blue line, they find ways to make things easier on themselves," explained Pateryn, before expanding upon what prompted him to make video work an integral part of his offseason routine.
"I'm trying to look at the game in a different way because the game is changing at a very rapid rate. Certain things that I was able to get away with before, I felt like there was a better and more efficient way to do them. Every summer, you want to take that next step, and I think this summer was huge for me to do that. This has been one of the ways that helped out," added Pateryn, who typically aims to improve any given skill he's practicing by five to 10 percent every time out.
Pateryn is hopeful that all of his hard work will ultimately pay off with a regular spot on the Canadiens' back end from the start in 2016-17. Last year, he debuted in mid-November. The bulk of his duty came in February, March and April, though, when he suited up for 27 of his 38 total appearances on the year and continued to prove his worth on the blue line.
"I feel like last year was hard at the beginning, but there was a light at the end of the tunnel towards the end of the season. I think I made tremendous strides. That's what gave me motivation to keep building on what I've already done and come out an even stronger and better player," concluded Pateryn, who expects to be back in Montreal on September 10th. "I'm excited to surprise a lot of people come September. I think everyone still has their mindset of what I do and that's all I can do, but there's more in the bag. I'm excited to go out there and show it."