|Zack Kassian (Photo: Getty Images) |
Zack Kassian has learned a lot in the passenger seat.
First, from his brother Mike who drove him to his youth hockey games in Windsor, Ontario - acting as more of a parental figure than a sibling after they lost their father to heart complications when Zack was 8 years old.
Then, from a close friend in Zach Bogosian who mentored the teen in junior hockey, playing for the OHL Peterborough Petes.
“He was my driver,” Kassian said of the Atlanta Thrashers’ defenseman. “I really got to know him on those rides to the rink… I learned a lot.
“I thought he was a pro in junior just by the way he handled himself… he taught me just daily life lessons about not taking things for granted and that there is more to life than hockey. It was great.”
When Kassian was selected 13th overall by the Buffalo Sabres last month, Bogosian was among his many supporters calling to congratulate.
“He was excited for me,” Kassian said. “But one of the first things he told me is that there’s still a lot of work to be done.
“I realize that, so it wasn’t too long of a talk,” he laughed.
Part of Kassian’s workload begins this week with the start of the Sabres’ Development Camp at Niagara University.
At least for now he is again the passenger seat – temporarily sidelined with a mild foot injury.
“I want to be out there so bad,” Kassian said Tuesday.
He hopes to join the other prospects on the ice by the end of the week. In the meantime, he will have to continue his training away from it.
“I’ve already learned so much,” he said regarding the camp. “Even their work ethic behind the scenes… It’s not just on the ice but they work so hard off the ice to get in shape and do the little things to be a good player.
“I want to get out there as soon as possible. Hopefully it’s sooner rather than later.”
More than 200 fans came out to watch Day Two of Development Camp on Tuesday, the first session available to the public.
Fans can attend Wednesday and Thursday's practice from 3:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. and Friday's practice from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Click the link below to watch some of Kassian's highlights from the OHL: