LUMBY, British Columbia -- Los Angeles Kings defenseman Brayden McNabb could relate to the kids in Lumby, the small town in the interior of British Columbia that won Kraft Hockeyville 2016 in Canada.
McNabb, 25, is from Davidson, Saskatchewan, a small farming community of a little more than 1,000 people. So when McNabb joined Kings teammate Tanner Pearson on Saturday to talk and take questions from kids and parents in Lumby, a town of 1,731, his answers carried more weight because he made the NHL after starting out in such a small town.
"It's pretty cool to see how the town gets up for an event like this because I grew up in a town with 1,000 people and the community was basically just sports, so you grow up in the rink," said McNabb, who played in Davidson until pee wee before moving to a boarding school to play.
From there, McNabb played junior in Cranbrook, a small town further north in British Columbia, before being selected by the Buffalo Sabres with the No. 66 pick at the 2009 NHL Draft. He was traded to the Kings on March 5, 2014, and joined them for the trip to play a preseason game against the Edmonton Oilers at Kal Tire Place in nearby Vernon as part of Kraft Hockeyville on Sunday (9 p.m. ET; NHLN, SN).
Seeing someone from a small town playing in the League was inspiring to the kids in Lumby.
"Oh yeah, a farm kid, that's totally relevant here," said Cole Young, who coaches three teams in Lumby minor hockey. "We've got lots of farming families here."
It wasn't the only impact the Kings players had Saturday. After answering questions about everything from how they prepare for a game, meeting celebrities like actor Will Ferrell at games in Los Angeles, coming to practice in shorts and flip flops, and whether they'd prefer a broken nose or a lost tooth, Pearson struck a chord when asked about how to get better.
"I think everyone is doing all the off-ice stuff but I think be kids, go play soccer, go play lacrosse or go play outside with friends, ball hockey or whatever," Pearson said. "Shoot pucks, work on faceoffs, do the little things and it will make you better as a player."
Even in a small town, that message resonated with Young.
"I loved what Tanner said about playing multiple sports because now it's all about academies and year-round hockey," Young said. "So to hear an NHL player telling you to go play other sports, be a kid, I think that's awesome for these kids to hear that from him."