Nineteen-year-old Zach Hyman
can cross a lot of things off his to-do list. Drafted into the NHL, check. Canadian Junior Hockey League Player of the Year, check. Publish a book, check. How’s that for ambitious?
Born in Toronto in 1992, Hyman began playing hockey at a young age, mostly due to his father’s encouragement. Hyman’s father, Stuart, owner of the Hamilton Red Wings is credited as his “biggest help.”
“He put me in at a young age,” said Hyman, the Panthers fifth round pick (123rd overall) in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. “I did a little bit of figure skating and lots of hockey. I have [my dad] to thank for a lot of things. I really appreciate all he’s done.”
Eventually, Hyman wound up playing for his father’s team, the Hamilton Red Wings in 2008, where he quickly became captain. Despite off-color comments from teammates and random people alike, Hyman used his talent as a way of silencing his critics.
“On the ice, kids would be like, ‘Oh, your dad owns the Red Wings. That’s the only reason you’re on the team.’ And then I started to dominate the league, and the kids started to shut up,” said Hyman.
This past season alone, Hyman scored 42 goals and posted 60 assists, helping to earn him the title of CJHL Player of the Year.
“It was a great honor,” said Hyman. “I was humbled and still am. A lot of the guys who won in the past are really top NHL guys, so hopefully I can do the same when I get to the NHL. I want to be a big impact. And help win a Stanley Cup for the Panthers.”
Hyman, was also successful in the academic realm. He was slated to attend Princeton this fall but de-committed after learning that head coach Guy Gadowsky was leaving for a job at Penn State. With Zach once again “up for grabs” he became a highly sought-after free agent and was wooed by schools like Boston College, Boston University, and Minnesota-Duluth.
“It was a crazy two weeks,” Hyman said of his experience as a free agent. “Not knowing where I was going and schools calling me up and calling Mr. Luce. I visited a bunch of schools in Boston, went to Florida and Denver and schools all around the US.”
Hyman’s final decision, however, is to attend Michigan, where he will become the third Wolverine to have won the CJHL Player of the Year award, following Mike Comrie (1998) and Jeff Tambellini (2002).
“Everything from the hockey to the campus to the academics is set up for each individual to develop and succeed,” Hyman said. “There is so much history at Michigan, the coaching staff, the arena. My younger brother went there for a game last year and said they have the best and loudest fans he’s ever seen.”
Zach is also thankful for the support he received from the Panthers throughout the whole process.
“They thought all the schools were great and at the end I was able to make the decision,” said Hyman.
Support from the Panthers continued this year as Hyman attended Development Camp.
“It was a lot of fun,” said Hyman of July’s camp. “All the staff. Mr. Tallon, Coach Dineen, Mr. Luce…they’ve all been amazing.”
Hyman noted that aside from spending time on hockey skills, the players were entertained during their week in South Florida as well.
“They did a great job with all of the different activities,” said Hyman. “We did so many things like going to the beach and watching alligator shows. We were busy almost every day so it was a great experience getting to know the future guys you get to play with. I had a great time.”
|Zach poses with his short story Hockey Hero (coutresy Canadian Jewish News) |
Also keeping Hyman busy is the buzz surrounding his current children’s book, Hockey Hero, about a shy young boy who feels shadowed by his hockey star older brother, but eventually learns to believe in himself.
“I wrote it in seventh grade for a short story competition,” noted Hyman. “It won a creative writing award and the teacher said it was really good, so from there I kept on working on it and it turned into this book. It kind of all happened at once.”
Zach enjoyed the whole process so much that he’s already penned a second book, The Bambino and Me, set to be out by this winter.
When asked what he’d like Panther’s fans to know about him, Zach laughed.
“Besides the book thing? I mean, I have four brothers…but the book is probably the most interesting. I think it’s pretty unexpected for a hockey player.”