Skip to main content
The Official Site of the Calgary Flames

Dube's dream becomes reality with Flames pick

by George Johnson / Calgary Flames

The stick remains in the garage, safe and sound. A cherished personal memento. Acquiring family-heirloom status, almost.

So no thought of trying to peddle it on eBay, maybe try and turn a quick profit, then? Now, or ever?

“No, no way,’’ protested one Dillon Dube. “That one I’m keeping. That one stays.”

The kid was eight or nine at the time, visiting southern Alberta from Golden, BC, but reared with a Flaming C emblazoned on his imagination.

“The Canadian (Olympic) team was practicing at Father David Bauer and we went to the practice,’’ recalled the kid nearly a decade later. “Joe Sakic was there, I remember. All these great players I’d been watching my whole life on TV.

“I had the chance to go into the dressing room. I got Jarome’s stick, and I met him.

“Being a Flames’ fan, that was one of the coolest things you could imagine.”

Saturday morning might’ve just incrementally topped that in the cool department.

Dube, the Kelowna Rockets’ emerging centre, was chosen by the team of his dreams, second round (No. 56) on Saturday, the second day of the 2016 NHL Draft.

“It was always the hardest team picturing myself going to, actually,’’ he confessed. “Maybe because I didn’t want let myself believe it could happen. Those were the games I always went to or watched. That’s the team I always cheered for.

“It’s hard to explain …

“I really can’t put it into words …

“I can’t believe I’m going to my hometown team. Pretty cool. Pretty cool to hopefully have the chance to live here, to live at home, my whole life.

“One of the most memorable moments of my life, for sure.”

At 5-foot-10 and 180 pounds, having rung up 66 points for the Rockets in his second full Western Hockey League season, Dube’s selection is another example of an NHL evolving to accommodate, even celebrate, smaller players with big hearts and big talent.

“Iggy’s my favorite all-time Flame but I love watching Johnny Gaudreau play now,’’ said Dube. “He was a later pick. Back then there were more big guys.

“But his example shows I can step in the league given a little more time.

“The hometown thing? It’s the next step I want to take and with any team there would be pressure. Maybe there will be a little bit more here, with everyone watching me, but I’ve got a lot support, not only from Cochrane but Golden, BC. They’ll always be watching me, too.

“And I’m happy to have them behind me.”

The Flames, needless to add, are happy to have Dube in front of them.

“Real skilled player, shooter,’’ adjudged Flames’ director of amateur scouting, Tod Button. “We always talk about upgrading skill. Never enough skill.

“You watch the playoffs and goals are hard to come by. He’s a shooter, a scorer. He’s a very quick player from the dots in."

Before the family packed up and moved its headquarters east to Cochrane, they’re life was out in west-coast evergreen-playground land. So why not simply latch on to the nearby Vancouver Canucks as team-of-choice?

“Well,’’ joked his dad, Paris, “there are SO many Canuck fans out there. A LOT of Canuck fans. I just thought I’d be different. I just liked the Flames.

“So I’ve always supported them and the kids followed my lead. So what are the chances of him being selected by that team?

“We never expected it.”

Neither, as the kid himself admitted, did he. But the time has come to take a deep breath and push forward.

“I know it starts now,” Dube said. “Being picked is great, something I’ll always remember, but now I have to speed up my development. I have to get stronger. I have to be able to elevate my game to play against men.

“You have to get over that, being starstruck. I played with Leon Draisaitl (now of the Edmonton Oilers) two years ago in Kelowna, a player I really looked up to, admired, and I think that’s helped.

“No matter where you are, what level you’re at, you have to trust in yourself and just go out and play.”

Comparisons at such a tender age can be a folly, of course, but Dube’s been described as an amalgamation of Minnesota Wild captain Zach Parise and Montreal Canadiens’ pot-stirrer Brendan Gallagher.

Over two seasons at Kelowna, he’s added invaluable seasoning through extended playoff runs, 36 post-season games and a Memorial Cup push worth of experience.

“What came immediately to my mind when we heard his name called is all the hard work he’s put in,’’ said Paris Dube. “Leaving home at 14 to go to Notre Dame. The commitment required to move up the ladder. So when we heard his name announced today, that’s what I thought of.’’

As a family, the decision was made not to fly to Buffalo and attend the draft at HSBC Centre but rather to stay at home and watch it unfold on TSN - his dad, mom Suzy and younger brother.

“Dillion’s just a very competitive kid,’’ explained Paris Dube. “Hearing the names being called before him, his friends going up before him … that would’ve been pretty tough to be there. He just didn’t want to be at the draft and be disappointed.

“That’s no disrespect to anybody else.

“It may sound crazy but that’s just his personality. To be at home was the best thing for him. We talked to his agency and they agreed.

“And it’s all turned out, he’s been picked by the Flames. Everybody’s happy now.

“We’ll go out and celebrate tonight. 
It’s been a good day. A very good day.”

A day unlike any other.

A day unmatched, so far, in his hockey experience.

At least since that day eight or nine years ago at Father David Bauer Arena, when a star struck kid from Golden, BC met an idol and received a cherished memento.

Some day, who knows, there might be a kid, a Calgary Flames’ fan, that treasures a Dillion Dube stick every bit as much, who keeps it safe and sound, in the family garage, acquiring near family-heirloom status.

“That,’’ agreed Dube, “would top them all.”

View More