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Round 2

Myers thriving for Jets in playoffs after trying year

Puts injuries, family crisis behind him, focused on second-round series vs. Predators

by Tim Campbell @TimNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

WINNIPEG - Tyler Myers had just been awarded the Winnipeg Jets' authentic fighter pilot helmet, signifying that he was that night's player of the game.

But the ceremony on Oct. 12, 2017 packed more emotion and meaning than the usual postgame ritual for the Jets defenseman.

 

[RELATED: Complete Predators vs. Jets series coverage]

 

"I can't remember what I said," Jets forward and award presenter Bryan Little said. "I just remember giving him the helmet and giving him a hug."

For Myers, the award meant more than being recognized for his game-winning, shorthanded goal against the Vancouver Canucks. It was a sign that the 28-year-old defenseman was back following a grueling year - both mentally and physically.

Myers has three points (two goals, one assist) in six Stanley Cup Playoff games for the Jets, who are tied 1-1 with the Nashville Predators in the Western Conference Second Round. Game 3 of the best-of-7 series is at Winnipeg's Bell MTS Place on Tuesday (8 p.m. ET;  CNBC, CBC, TVAS).

Video: WPG@MIN, Gm3: Myers beats Dubnyk with slap shot

Back in October, not only was Myers playing after missing 71 games the previous season because of a hip injury sustained Nov. 11, 2016 that required surgery on Feb. 6, 2017, Myers and his wife, Michela, had gotten through a trying time because of complications from the premature birth of their son, Tristan.

"The injury was one thing; it was obviously very tough going through that, not being able to get on the ice to help the guys," said Myers said. "But in terms of the other stuff, our little guy, we're very happy with how far he's come."

With Myers on a road trip with the Jets, Michela, pregnant at the time, wasn't feeling right and decided to go to the hospital on Jan. 5, 2017. After an ultrasound, it was determined she needed an emergency cesarean section.

Tristan Myers was born five weeks premature and without 80 percent of his blood, the result of a fetal maternal hemorrhage.

Further complications, including a stroke, kept Tristan in the hospital for nearly six weeks. Tyler and Michela had to wait 12 days before they were allowed to hold him.

Sixteen months later, Tristan is doing well.

"I would almost say it's made me a little more laid back," Myers said. "I don't let things get to me too much. I start thinking about him and how hard he had to fight to get through what he did and it allows me to constantly remind myself and keep getting back to what's important. It really comes down to family first. As much as I love this game and love being part of this room, it really puts things into perspective."

Myers (6-foot-8, 229 pounds), is part of Winnipeg's deep right side on defense that includes Dustin Byfuglien and Jacob Trouba.

Averaging 21:26 of ice time per game this season, Myers had 36 points (six goals, 30 assists) in 82 games, including three game-winners, in addition to his three postseason points.

One of those points came on a spectacular goal in Game 2 of the Jets' Western Conference First Round victory against the Minnesota Wild.

In the second period of a scoreless game, Myers took a pass at the blue line, went around Wild forward Jason Zucker and cut to the net, beating Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk with a blocker-side wrist shot. The Jets won the game, 4-1.

"He has so much poise with the puck," Little said of Myers. "You saw that goal he scored last series, when he walked along the blue line, that takes guts, too, and he does that and he's calm and you can see that poise, carrying the puck up the ice. It's nice to watch.

"He's a great guy to have in the room, great sense of humor."

Even with his world spinning in many directions over the past 18 months, Myers has remained grounded and focused. He said he appreciates even more all that he has.

"Ever since I came into the League, and when I was younger, I've always been extremely hard on myself," Myers said. "I've let things weigh on me maybe a little more than they should. But I've learned over the years to become much more even-keeled.

"With as hard as some of the things were last year, now that things are good, it's allowed me to just take a step back and realize not to worry about things so much. Less stress. Enjoy the things around me and have fun with the guys and have fun with the little guy and my wife at home and basically just enjoy the moment."

His family-first priority is stronger now, he said, and that includes his teammates and the Jets organization.

"The way the Jets treated our family during a tough time, I'll always be linked to this place no matter what happens," Myers said. "And when I say family first, they're included in that. So it's not just being related to somebody.

"They've really created a family atmosphere in this organization. It's been a real nice thing to be a part of and it's really nice to come back this year and be at a point where everything is moving forward."

Little said that family is the key piece to how Myers fits with the Jets and how they fit him.

"I had so much time myself the last two seasons with injuries so I know how frustrated and down you can get being in that position," Little said. "Plus all the stuff off the ice he had to go through.

"To add that on top of it, that's a stressful situation he was in. That's what makes this team special, that we're there for each other. We're really good family. And it's different. I've played on teams when I was younger that weren't like that. And they didn't have that kind of bond and closeness as a team and this team really has that. We really care about each other and you want to see each other do well.

"To see him back now, doing well and playing a full season, that's awesome."

***

 

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