VANCOUVER -- Brock Boeser wanted to be signed and at training camp when the Vancouver Canucks took the ice, but the delay allowed the 22-year-old free agent to spend more time with his ailing father, Duke, who recently spent a month in intensive care.
The forward, who missed a three-day training camp in Victoria, British Columbia, and two preseason games as a restricted free agent, practiced Wednesday for the first time since signing a three-year, $17.625 million contract with the Canucks on Monday.
"I got chills when you said that," Boeser said when asked about his 58-year-old dad, who had a blood clot that triggered heart failure. "That was a tough couple of months there, so even just spending that extra week, he just started eating this past week and became really alert. That meant a lot to me to be there, and that's kind of what kept me sane throughout this whole process, just being able to see him every day, and be there to support him, and just seeing him these last couple of days it really let me relax a bit to see how well he is doing and how he is coming along."
Duke Boeser was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 2010 and had treatment for lung cancer in 2017. The cancer returned this summer and he was being treated for it when the blood clot almost cost him his life. Duke was transferred to a rehabilitation hospital, and, according to Brock, is breathing and starting to eat on his own.
The situation allowed Brock to stay at home in Minnesota and keep his contract negotiations in perspective.
"He's made steady steps here," Boeser said. "That's why I keep mentioning 'A day at a time,' because that's what I have been doing for the past two months."
Through most of it, Boeser was expecting to sign before training camp.
"I believed I would be here right at the start of camp, so it was kind of shocking," Boeser said. "We all agreed camp would be good for me. Last year's camp, coming off the back injury, I got off to a slow start, so we thought camp is really important, and then, obviously, they were kind of stuck on a number, we were kind of stuck on a number. I'm glad we got something figured out."
Video: Top five plays of 2018-19: Boeser
Boeser, who was third on the Canucks with 56 points (26 goals, 30 assists) in 69 games last season, when he missed 13 games with a groin injury, said he isn't worried about the missed time because he was able to start his offseason training in June.
"That makes a huge difference," he said.
Canucks coach Travis Green said he noticed that in the first practice.
"He looks as strong as I've seen him from the last two years," Green said. "He's probably in the best shape he's been in coming into camps, just by the looks and talking to him."
Boeser had 55 points (29 goals, 26 assists) in 62 games in 2017-18, when his season ended with a fracture in his back. He leads the Canucks over the past two seasons in goals (55) and points (111) in 131 games, and is expected to start this season on the top line and top power play with center Elias Pettersson, who won the Calder Trophy voted as NHL rookie of the year after scoring 66 points (28 goals, 38 assists) in 71 games last season.
"With 'Petey,' I think the sky is the limit for him, so he has the mindset that he wants to be one of the best players in the NHL, and he works his tail off, so I am excited," Boeser said.
He said that excitement wasn't diminished by a short-term contract (worth $5.875 million annually) instead of a long-term deal.
"I love Vancouver. My plan isn't to just play three years and get out of here," Boeser said. "My plan is to play here as long as I can. I love the city, I love the fans, I love the organization, so take it year by year and hopefully I can sign a longer one after this."