doesn’t remember the 1972 Summit Series between Canada and Russia. Don’t blame him, though. The series was played 16 years before he was born.
But don’t think Ellerby isn’t aware of the historical significance of that tense series or the mark left by Canada’s Team of the Century.
“I wasn’t around back then,” said Ellerby, the Panthers’ No. 1 draft pick (10th overall) in June at the Entry Draft. “But being a Canadian kid, you always hear quite a lot of talk about that series and what it meant.”
Thirty-five years after Paul Henderson’s series-winning goal against the Russians, Ellerby will help lead a new generation of Canadian players against the Russians beginning next week in the Canada/Russia Super Series.
“I’m excited about the series,” said Ellerby, who departed Tuesday from Toronto for Russia with Team Canada’s Under-20 team. “The Canada-Russia rivalry is one of the biggest, if not the biggest. I know from reading and television the ’72 series was very intense, so I’m looking forward to this.”
Ellerby won’t be the only Panther playing in the series. Evgeni Dadonov, a third-round selection (71st overall), will compete for Team Russia.
Described as a strong skater with a “bit of a mean streak,” by director of scouting Scott Luce, Ellerby has been working out at home this summer in Kamloops, British Columbia. He’s been in contact over the summer several times with director of player development Duane Sutter and also spent a week in Calgary working with strength and conditioning coach Andy O’Brien.
“I’ve been working out five, six days a week,” said the 6-4, 185-pound Ellerby. “I also worked with Andy, a lot of one-on-one stuff that a lot of the Panthers do. A lot of the stuff is on the track, sprints and lunges. I really want to improve as much as I can on being strong, improving my quickness and agility.”
Ellerby’s participation in the Super Series means he will miss the Panthers’ Rookie Camp, which begins Sept. 5 in Kitchener. Panther GM and coach Jacques Martin believes the Super Series is too good an opportunity for Ellerby to miss.
“It’s a great opportunity he has to represent his country,” Martin said. “They (Team Canada) scouted him and watched his play last year and they believe he’s one of the top 25 players in the country under 20. It’s a nice benefit for him. Even though he won’t be at rookie camp, this series is something of a larger magnitude. Once he’s done with the series, he’ll come directly to our main camp (Sept. 12).”
Ellerby, who has played against and with several players on the Team Canada roster in the Western Hockey League (WHL), is looking forward to Panther camp. The question is whether he’s good enough and mature enough to break into the Panthers roster come October.
Whether he’s with the Panthers or back in the WHL with Kamloops, Ellerby is looking toward the future.
“Hopefully, I can come to Florida and show enough that the staff and Jacques Martin give me a chance to stay there,” Ellerby said. “If not, if I’m to go through another year of development in Kamloops, either way I’ll be fine. My goal is still going to be to play in the NHL.”