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ADVERSITY BREEDS CHARACTER

Okotoks product Peyton Krebs is a potential top-10 pick in the upcoming NHL Draft who developed important leadership skills through some trying times

by RYAN DITTRICK @ryandittrick / CalgaryFlames.com

Tough times never last.

Tough people, with their intuitive ability to pilot the sport's nautical seas, however…

They survive. 

Thrive.

And build character that trumps all else in those unforgiving, historical records.

"I learned a lot last year," said Okotoks native Peyton Krebs of an arduous campaign in Cranbrook, B.C. "It … wasn't a good year for us. 

"But as a person, I grew. 

"As a player, I grew.

"Things weren't going well for us as a team, and when situations like that happen and you're fighting adversity all year, you look to your leaders to help guide the ship."

The 6-foot-1, 183-lb. centre captained the WHL's Kootenay Ice last year and led the team with 68 points (19G, 49A) in 64 games, and played a key role in all situations, including the powerplay and penalty-kill. 

But as a team, the Ice - who have since relocated to Winnipeg - struggled. 

Mightily. 

Their 13 wins were the second-fewest in franchise history as the club missed the WHL playoffs for the fourth straight season. 

As a 17-year-old donning the 'C' for the B.C.-based troupe, Krebs felt the brunt of that result.

The pressure, too.

 

 

But as all good leaders do, he didn't blame others for what was a collective misfortune. He had the confidence, the courage and compassion to help reunite a fragmented group, to work closely with the younger players and develop a plan so they, too, 
could see value in the process. 

"I tried to be the guy that others could look up to," Krebs said. "When you're going through that kind of a year - living in the disappointment, day after day - it's tough. But what our team needed was a presence; someone the younger players could look up to so they could move on into next year, or the next phase of their careers, and have 
success. 

"Despite everything that went wrong on the ice, I had a lot of fun with the guys in that locker-room."

People from across the hockey world took note.

Krebs, the former first pick in the 2016 WHL Bantam Draft, went on to captain the Canadian squad at the World Under-18 Championship in Sweden this past April. He ran with the responsibility and tied for fifth in tournament scoring with 10 points (6G, 4A) in 10 games, trailing Americans Jack Hughes, Matthew Boldy, Cole Caufield and Cameron York. 

But among his many experiences over the past calendar year, Krebs doesn't view himself through the lens of an offensive dynamo. 

He prides himself on his defensive acumen and play away from the puck as being his greatest asset. 

"I've been fortunate to be on those (Canadian) teams and to play with some amazing players in the past, but to play against those guys this time, it was pretty cool," said Krebs. "It was a good test. Defensively, if you can play against those top guys and shut 'em down, that's something."

 

 

Krebs enters the Draft as a potential Top-10 pick. 

It's possible an off-season achilles injury - suffered recently during a summer training session - could affect where he goes, but considering the body of work he put in over the course of the campaign and the impression he left at the NHL Scouting Combine earlier this month, it's unlikely. 

When you're the complete package like he is …

When you have the kind of elite hockey sense, passing ability and high hockey IQ like he does …

Not even a walking boot will slow his crawl to the podium early in Friday's first round at Rogers Arena. 

He won't let it.

Healthy or not.

"I'm going to come to the rink every day and work the hardest," Krebs said. 

"That's the message I wanted to get out (at the Combine). 

"There's no better quality in a person, I think."

Certainly, a player of Krebs' character would know a thing or two about that. 

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