Back in late December, the Canucks announced the signing of Erie Otters forward Dane Fox. We got to know a bit about him just by looking at the Ontario Hockey League scoring leaders, where Fox sits second in points with 81 in 43 games and has a commanding lead in the goal department with 51, which is 15 more than the next guy and 20 more than the guy in third.
So we know he can score goals, but what do we really know about him? Canucks.com chatted with the Fox to find out all there is to know about the goal-scoring machine.
1 – Fox is 6-foot, 185-pounds and was born on October 13, 1993. He shares a birthday with such celebrities as NFL great Jerry Rice, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and comedian Sacha Baron Cohen. He was born in Chatham, Ontario, and grew up in the small town of Thamesville, Ontario, which has a population of about 2,000 people. The biggest tourist attraction in Thamesville?
“We only have one stop light,” laughed Fox. “Actually, we have a big corn maze, which is probably the biggest attraction.”
2 – There isn’t a whole lot to do growing up in a small town, so when he was younger Fox helped out on the family farm where he was raised.
“My family has a trucking business,” he said. “We store soy beans and truck them and all that stuff. We are soy bean farmers.”
The family also spent summers at their cottage on Lake Erie.
3 – His dad runs the trucking business and his mom runs a local bingo hall. He has a 22-year-old sister, Megan, and a 16-year-old brother, Trent, who was drafted by the Erie Otters in the fifth round, 80th overall, in the 2013 OHL Priority Selection.
4 – Fox is childhood friends with Canucks prospect Bo Horvat as the two families are close friends.
“Bo grew up about 20 minutes away from me,” said Fox. “I have known him since he was about 9 or 10. We used to play against each other in minor hockey and our dads used to play with and against each other. Our grandparents are pretty close, as well.”
5 – On the ice, Fox describes himself as an all-around player that can bring a bit of everything to the table and accept any role the coach gives him. Watch one of his highlight videos and it becomes pretty clear what his biggest attribute is.
“My release and my shot are absolutely by far my biggest attribute.”
6 – He says his skating is the one thing he really wants to work on to be a productive player at the next level.
“I need to get my skating back up to where it used to be,” he said. “I had a foot injury a couple summers ago that sidelined me for five months. That set my skating back a bit as I couldn’t use my legs that much. I just need to get back into the shape I was in before and work with my power skating coach a bit more.”
7 – Fox likes to base his game around Leafs forward Dave Bolland, who Canucks fans know very well. A little too well, actually.
“He has won at every level,” said Fox. “He won a Memorial Cup in London and a pair of Stanley Cups. I like the fact he can go from being a third line shutdown guy when asked in Chicago to a first line scoring role in Toronto. He is someone that can do it all and is someone I want to base my game around.”
8 – As noted earlier, Fox is absolutely tearing up the OHL goal scoring race with 51 goals in 43 games, which puts him on pace for 81 goals this season. The OHL record is 87, which was set back in 1980-81 by Ernie Godden, who is the only player to every score more than 81 in a season. Fox had 54 goals in his first 176 games in his career, but says it’s the little things and some extra motivation that have caused the dramatic increase in goals.
“I am just doing the little things different,” he said. “Stopping in front of the net and shooting to score in practice, stuff like that. My teammates have helped me a lot and have had a lot of faith in me. I just want to play at the next level and I knew I had to prove that this year.
“I haven’t looked at the leader board in a while. The guy’s on my team will say stuff, but I try to stay away from that as much as possible. I don’t want to jinx anything.”
9 - He started the season on a line with Connor Brown and youngster Connor McDavid, but since the Otters acquired fellow Canucks prospect Brendan Gaunce in a trade from Belleville, the Otters top line has been Gaunce centering Brown and Fox. This isn’t the first time Gaunce and Fox have been teammates.
“Me and Brendan trained with Gary Roberts before the NHL Combine a few years ago,” said Fox. “We also played on the same team at the 2012 Top Prospects Game.”
Gaunce also let Fox know a bit about the Canucks organization.
“He told me how it’s such an unbelievable organization. Everything from the dressing room, to management to the city, he said everything is top notch.”
10 – Fox was twice passed over at the NHL Entry Draft, despite being named to the Top Prospects Game and even though he isn’t playing for a contract anymore, he still feels a lot of pressure.
“It takes a toll on you as a player,” said Fox. “Every kid’s dream is to be drafted, but when I wasn’t I used it as motivation and took it as a positive, which was pretty hard to do, but I just wanted to prove people wrong and I think I have almost done that.
“I knew before there were 30 teams looking at me,” he said. “Now I know there is one team looking at me very closely and that’s Vancouver, so there is still pressure.”
11 – Fox once fought Oilers forward Nail Yakupov while the two were playing against each other in the OHL. Getting under the skin of opposing players is something Fox doesn’t shy away from.
“I was in my second year, didn’t really know who Yakupov was and I jumped him. The next time I played Sarnia I had to fight three times. If I can get the other team’s best player off their game, then yeah, absolutely I am going to do that anyway possible.
“If I am not involved in the game physically and emotionally, I am not being effective on the ice. I don’t take penalties on purpose but I do play with a chip on my shoulder, which has benefited me.”
12 – Fox feels the Otters have what it takes to go all the way to the Memorial Cup this season. Currently, the Otters have the OHL’s best record at 34-7-2-0, including a staggering 21-0-1-0 mark on home ice.
“If everyone sticks to their role and does their job, I think we could go all the way,” he said. “We have proved that over the first half of the season. I have faith in this team and I think we could do it.”