He sat on the Vancouver Canucks bench dressed in a t-shirt, shorts and flip-flops. Feet up, relaxed as ever, he watched as Radim Vrbata was repeatedly sprayed in the face with water.
The Canucks were put through the paces Wednesday morning as part of media day; there were seven stations in all, including an intense Sportsnet commercial shoot that involved players looking sweaty. Insert spray bottle.
“Vrbie doesn’t like that,” said the 19-year-old, laughing loud enough for Vrbata to hear.
“Your time will come, sniper,” responded Vrbata, grinning.
If McCann isn’t careful, his time may be now.
Tuesday night in San Jose, McCann scored the lone Canucks goal giving him goals in back-to-back games and a team-high four points in four pre-season games.
The Canucks lost to the Sharks 2-1, but when Jake Virtanen caused a turnover deep in the San Jose zone and the puck jetted out to McCann in front of the opposing net, he didn’t think twice ripping a shot top-shelf on goalie Martin Jones.
McCann, a former member of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, (who would return to the OHL if he doesn’t make the Canucks) admitted he didn’t see this coming. He always knew he had it in him, but the speed at which he’s gone from some rookie to the rookie is astounding.
“I’m getting an opportunity to show what I can do,” said McCann, once he stopped giggling at Vrbata. “It feels good to get a chance and make the most of it.”
Entering Canucks training camp, Virtanen was thought to have the best chance of pushing for a roster spot and while he has, McCann has turned the most heads. And he’s only just begun.
With each practice and game the youngster matures a little more and he said he’s leaning on veterans for advice along the way. Brandon Sutter, Alex Burrows and Vrbata have spent time with McCann over the last few weeks, “I’ve tried to get to know Alex Edler too,” he smiled, “but he’s a tough nut to crack.”
Forget the goals, if McCann was already BFFs with stoic Edler, he’d be immediately named Canucks captain.
Baby steps. Don’t reinvent the wheel, just keep on keepin’ on.
“That’s exactly it,” said McCann. “I’m trying to stay grounded throughout this because I haven’t earned anything yet. That’s not me getting sprayed with water in a TV commercial.”
Success is success, even in the pre-season play. McCann said his family has played a major role in his hockey endeavors, and that continues now. He’s been in constant contact with parents Matt and Erin, and siblings Jordan (30), Justin (24) and Jaimie (23), although living in Stratford, Ontario, the three-hour time difference is proving to be quite a nuisance.
“They make it through the 1st period and probably the 2nd,” he smiled,” but the 3rd period is lights out for sure.”
The McCann family might have to adjust its sleep schedule very soon. That or someone will have to spray them in the face with water to keep them awake.