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Overcoming adversity

by Tyson Giuriato / Vancouver Canucks

Look up the definition of the word ADVERSITY and you will find something similar to this:   Ad-ver-si-ty: a state, condition, or instance of serious or continued difficulty or adverse fortune.

When scrolling through examples of ADVERSITY, one example you will not find in the dictionary is: Evan McEneny faced ADVERSITY just two games into the 2011-12 season suffering a season-ending knee injury. He overcame his ADVERSITY by rehabbing for months, and although he didn’t hear his name called in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, he signed an entry-level contract with the Vancouver Canucks three months later.

Just days after being overlooked in last June’s Entry Draft, Evan McEneny received a call from the Canucks, who invited the 6-foot-2 defenceman to their annual Prospects Development Camp. The camp not only gives Canucks draft picks and prospects a taste of what life is like playing in Vancouver, but it also gives players who didn’t necessarily catch the eye of scouts during the season a chance to showcase their skills in front of Canucks coaches and management.

Going undrafted and attending a Prospects Camp as a free agent wasn’t the way it was supposed to go for McEneny. He was supposed to have a productive season with his Kitchener Rangers squad, help them out on their quest for an Ontario Hockey League Championship, and then hear his name being called in Pittsburgh at the draft.

The year started off great for McEneny – two assists in the first game of the season kind of great. But then, in the very next outing, after taking an innocent looking hit while in a foot race for a loose puck, he felt some pain in his knee. However, like any tough 17-year-old kid playing junior hockey, McEneny slapped some ice on his knee and jumped on the bus ready for the next stop on the road trip, not knowing he had suffered a torn ACL and that his season was over as fast as it had begun.

When he did get the bad news he was devastated, all that hard work gearing up for his draft year was instantly washed down the drain.

After months of rehab and having to watch his Rangers squad advance all the way to the OHL’s Western Conference Final, McEneny was finally 100 per cent healthy and ready to go. He came to Vancouver for Prospects Development Camp and caught the eye of the Canucks brass in attendance. Mid-September, two and half months after camp, he signed an entry-level contract with the club.

McEneny and his Rangers teammates are now gearing up for what hopes to be a successful season in Kitchener. He will be looked upon for leadership on a young blue-line and will be able to focus on developing his game rather than worry about impressing scouts now that he has an NHL contract.

“We expect him to be a leader with our hockey club this season as he know begins his third year here,” said Paul Fixter, the associate coach and assistant general manger with Kitchener.

Although McEneny only recorded four points in his rookie season, he feels he can be a good two way defenseman by adding some offensive punch to his game this season. The Hamilton, Ontario, native looks to another 6-foot-2, undrafted defenceman who plays with the Rangers as an example of how he wants to play the game. Namely, Dan Girardi of the New York Rangers. 

“Evan is a skilled puck moving defenceman who is poised with the puck and makes great decisions,” said Fixter. “He passes well, has a good shot and is responsible in the defensive zone.

“He works hard at improving his game, has a good work ethic and is a good teammate.”

Even when away from the rink, McEneny involves himself with the team, hanging out with ‘The Boys’ as much as possible, whether it’s playing a little ping pong or firing up the Xbox to play hockey.

“Everything I do involves hockey in some sort of way,” said McEneny. “In the summer all I do is train for the next season.”

That season is just around the corner, hopefully without any adversity.

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