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The Pursuit of Happiness

by Mark Janzen / Vancouver Canucks
He waited and waited and waited. He wasn’t supposed to fall this far. And the Vancouver Canucks definitely didn’t think they had a shot at him.

But once the Canucks’ pick came up at 22, and Minnesota’s Jordan Schroeder was still on the board, it was an absolute no-brainer for GM Mike Gillis.

And the kid, who was ranked 5th among North American skaters and has been compared to Brian Gionta and Paul Kariya, was delighted to hear his name.

“It was a relief. But my parents were very positive, they were like, ‘You know you’re going to go. We have faith and we love you very much so don’t worry about it.’ The draft is just a number. It’s what you do after the draft that counts, but I’m more than excited now.

“I didn’t want to expect anything, but at the same time I knew at times I could possibly go [earlier] and I didn’t, so I was just waiting trying to be patient.”

And that patience is what might set Schroeder, notably pronounced Shray-der, apart from the rest when it comes to competing for a spot on the Canucks this fall.

When he lists his hobbies as golf, fishing and hunting, not only will he fit right into the West Coast and gain immediate respect with the likes of Willie Mitchell, but it’s obvious patience is a word that could well be used time and again.

But while Schroeder ‘patiently,’ stomach knots and all, waited his turn in the stands, unbeknownst to him, the Canucks we’re scrambling.

“We were thinking about trying to move up to select him because we thought he would go earlier,” said Canucks GM Mike Gillis. “Then as it became closer, we kind of resigned ourselves that we weren’t going to get him because we couldn’t move up and then...he was still there.

“We were very happy. We had him rated in our top ten on our list. We are really pleased to get him. He’s a dynamic player and he’s happy to be with us.”

That’s right. He’s excited to be a Canuck, even if that means being reminded every day of the devastating loss suffered by the Americans to Canada when he and his compatriots were at the 2009 World Junior Championships.

Remember that New Year’s Eve classic. When Canada trailed the U.S. 3-0 early in the first period, only to come back and win 7-4. Schroeder was on the ice to experience the loss while Canucks’ hot prospect Cody Hodgson was celebrating at the other end. But there doesn’t appear to be many hard feelings.

“[Hodgon’s] a great player,” Schroeder said with very little disdain. “I always thought he was one of [Canada’s] top players during the World Juniors. He moves the puck really well. He’s a great leader and teammate. You never know maybe we could be on a line sometime soon.”

Well let’s not get ahead of ourselves quite yet, but a man can dream right?

Since his childhood years in Prior Lake, MN, Schroeder has been in love with hockey. Although his parents were far from hockey fanatics and, in his most impressionable years, the state didn’t even have a hockey team, he got a little help from some friends.

“My parents never really had a hockey background. Minnesota, in my neighbourhood, some of the older guys got me into hockey and playing on the ponds growing up.”

The passion grew and he quickly developed into a high-level player and in 2006 it all paid off. As an underager, he made the U.S. National Under-18 team and it was then that he realized the NHL draft was a reality.

“Making the world junior team as an underager, [made me think this was possible]. I set my goals high and I try to achieve them and I’ve achieved one of my goals so far in my career.”

And it was while with the national team, coached by John Hynes, that he developed himself into the player that he is today.

While Schroeder, remember Shray-der, might not be in a Canucks sweater this fall, you can bet he won’t be that far off. And soon, Vancouver fans might be seeing his “one hand drag with finger flip, on one knee” goal celebration as he goes after the one thing that both he and his favourite movie seek.

The Pursuit of Happiness.

And after being selected by Vancouver, it sounds like he’s half way there.

“It’s a beautiful city first of all. The fans are crazy about hockey in Canada. There’s so much enthusiasm about hockey up here and I couldn’t be happier to go to Vancouver.”

It just might be a matter of a little patience before he achieves his next goal.
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