In Blake Geoffrion, the Nashville Predators have added a member of one of hockey's royal families.
Not only did Geoffrion's father, Dan, play in the NHL, but his grandfather, Bernie "Boom Boom" Geoffrion is a Hall of Famer from his days with the Montreal Canadiens, and his great-grandfather is the legendary Howie Morenz, another Hall of Famer.
That's an incredible hockey lineage for a young player like Blake, who signed a two-year deal with the Predators Tuesday. Still, he said he feels more pressure being a Tennessee boy than he does following in the family footsteps.
"I think a little bit of pressure comes along with (the family name), but there's more pressure in being from Brentwood (Tn.)," Geoffrion said. "A lot of friends and family here want me to be on the Nashville Predators as soon as possible. Helping get more kids involved in hockey here, being involved with the community, adds more pressure too.
"I think a little bit of pressure comes along with (the family name), but there's more pressure in being from Brentwood (Tn.). A lot of friends and family here want me to be on the Nashville Predators as soon as possible. Helping get more kids involved in hockey here, being involved with the community, adds more pressure too." - Blake Geoffrion
"As for my family, I think I'm a completely different player than my dad, my grandfather and my great-grandfather. They were natural goal scorers and I think I bring a little bit of everything to the game. I don't really feel a lot of pressure from that, but I respect our name and take a lot of pride in it. Hopefully, I can have half the careers that they had."
Blake Geoffrion, 22, already is well on his way as a Hobey Baker Award winner and a leading player on the University of Wisconsin team that went to the championship game of the 2010 NCAA Frozen Four.
Geoffrion was the second-round pick, No. 56, of the Predators at the 2006 Entry Draft. At that point, Geoffrion had completed two seasons with the United States National Under-18 Team. Geoffrion played four seasons at Wisconsin, scoring 55 goals and adding 59 assists in 155 games.
"It's an unbelievable feeling to be signing with the Predators," he said. "I've been a Predators fan since they started here in 1998 and we had season tickets. I always followed them when I was away. I rooted for them when they played the Detroit Red Wings, unlike everybody else up there (in Wisconsin).
"To sign an NHL contract with Nashville is a great feeling. I want to thank everyone who helped me get here, from my family to all the coaches that I've had and the players around me. I've had some great mentors and I can't thank those people enough. It's just the first step, and hopefully I can proceed beyond this."
Geoffrion's 28 goals this past season were third-highest in the NCAA and led to his selection
as the 2010 Hobey Baker Award winner and U.S. College Hockey Player of the Year. He was also the MVP of the NCAA West Regional after Wisconsin defeated Vermont and St. Cloud State. They advanced to the championship game against Boston College but lost, 5-0.
"I had an opportunity to leave last year after my junior year and turn pro," Geoffrion said. "I decided to come back, not only because I knew we were going to have a good team, but because it also allowed me to get better mentally and physically, off the ice and on the ice. Also, I got my degree.
"It turned out exactly like I wanted it to. We were able to make it all the way to the final game, to compete for the national championship. We had a great group of guys. I can't thank my teammates enough for what they did for me on an individual level, winning the Hobey Baker and U.S. College Player of the Year. The coaching staff at Wisconsin was the reason I won those awards.
"It was huge to come back and finish my college career with a chance to win a national championship. It could go down as one of Wisconsin's best teams ever. Even though we didn't win the game, I was really proud of the guys. … We faced a lot of adversity throughout the year, losing our starting goalie, and a lot of guys had injuries. We worked hard for four years and missed the NCAA tournament a couple of times, so getting there was a great goal and I'm glad we reached it.
"I take a lot of pride in what I do every day at the rink. And I finished my senior year with a degree in Consumer Affairs."
Geoffrion joined the Milwaukee Admirals, the Predators' AHL affiliate, for three Calder Cup Playoff games and scored 2 goals. He said he gained some insight into the pro game from that experience.
"The game is totally different. The guys in the AHL are much smarter. They don't run around as much as in college. I think the college game is faster in that aspect. They're positioned well, offensively and defensively and the guys are bigger and stronger. My big experience was checking Chris Chelios behind the net and he said, 'Hey kid, who do you think you're dealing with?'
"And, I said, 'Oh, sorry, Mr. Chelios,' so that was my little moment in the AHL."
Author: John McGourty | NHL.com Staff Writer