Matthew Robertson's older brother, Tyler, never got his day at the NHL Draft.
Matthew, a 6-foot-3, 200-pound left-shot defenseman, is No. 26 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters for the 2019 Draft at Rogers Arena in Vancouver on June 21-22. He's more than willing to share his big moment considering the impact Tyler has had on his hockey career.
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"Growing up it was a lot like that," Matthew said. "I tried to follow up in his footsteps or try to one-up him just for bragging rights and just try to become better, that younger brother trying to push up to become like him, become as successful as him. It helped me build my character and that aggressiveness. When I was younger he just helped me gain that competitiveness. Now he's just really supportive and gives me tips and advice from players he's played with that have become successful. He's given me good advice."
Tyler, now 22, had 87 points (40 goals, 47 assists) in 235 games in parts of four seasons with Edmonton of the Western Hockey League from 2013-17, and in 2014 helped Edmonton win the WHL championship and the Memorial Cup.
He never was selected in the NHL draft, but that doesn't damper his enthusiasm for Matthew.
"It's fun just to watch him go through it because I saw a lot of my friends go through it," said Tyler, who had 19 points (six goals, 13 assists) with Northern Alberta Institute of Technology in the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference this season. "It's pretty cool to see him go through this stuff.
"I'm just telling him to live in the moment because it ends pretty soon. In my case, I'm done junior. Four years can go by pretty quick. For him, he needs to live in the moment and not focus too much on the future."
It wasn't too long ago that they played opposite each other on the pond. Matthew, 18, said those battles have helped him become an NHL Draft prospect.
"He had a huge impact," said Matthew, who had 33 points (seven goals, 26 assists) in 52 games as an alternate captain with Edmonton this season. "As a younger kid we used to have an outdoor rink in our backyard. We used to go out and play 1-on-1. They were pretty vicious. I can think of at least one or two times blood was drawn. I think once I shot a puck at him when I was mad. It's a lot more equal now. I can win a lot more battles than I used to. I've got that upper edge. He's got a few upper edges. The battle is more equal now.
"It's pretty funny now. He's helped me become who I am today. It helped grow me and build my character to where I am today."
Tyler believes the games on the backyard pond planted the seeds for Matthew's competitiveness.
"He probably started skating back there at 6 or 7," Tyler said. "We did that for probably eight years. We'd go out there any chance we got and play hockey. It got pretty competitive. I hit him over the boards at times. I'm five years older, so when he played with us he was always a lot smaller so he had to compete a lot harder to keep up with us."
Tyler had a front-row seat to see some of that growth during their time as Edmonton teammates for seven games in 2016-17.
"I got to play in his last game, his final WHL career game," Matthew said. "It was unbelievable. Before the game we went out and took a picture with Wayne Gretzky, which was surreal. We went out and played, and he was on in overtime and got an assist on the overtime goal. It was pretty cool just watching him. It was pretty emotional, wrapping up his WHL career.
"I watched him. How far he's gone, I'm proud of him."
It's been Tyler watching Matthew since.
The NHL Draft will be Matthew's time, but Tyler will take some satisfaction too.
"I would say it is a little bit crazy because we always looked up to people that would go in the first round," Tyler said. "For him to be projected that high is pretty cool for the family.
"I think I'm the calm one so I'll try to keep him calm and not get too nervous about it because he does get nervous about this stuff, which is expected. I'll be there trying to calm him down because I know our parents will be all nervous too."
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