FINALLY, A LOCAL LEAF
Parochial school grad Zach Hyman on playing for the home team
Hockey star Zach Hyman is one of a number of locals aiming to help the Maple Leafs regain past glory
After years of abysmal hockey, Leafs nation seems to have a feeling of optimism for the upcoming season.
That optimism is thanks to the team’s new head coach, Mike Babcock, who made a proclamation at his introduction press conference:
“Mark my words, the Ontario boys will come home.”
The Leafs lived up to that promise by selecting three Ontario-born players this past NHL entry draft, and they also traded for Zach Hyman, a Forest Hill native and University of Michigan grad.
Hyman began making waves in the hockey world while playing for the Hamilton Red Wings of the OJHL (Ontario Junior A Hockey League) where he posted 102 points in 43 games his final season.
He credits his success to the skills he acquired while attending TanenbaumCHAT (Community Hebrew Academy Of Toronto).
“Going to CHAT, you learned a lot about time management. You had to balance both English courses with Hebrew courses,” he says.
When Hyman was first drafted to the NHL in 2010, he wasn’t seen as a top prospect. Then in his senior year at University of Michigan (2014–15), he had a career year and was amongst the best in the NCAA (National College Athletic Association).
“Everything just kind of came together in my fourth year. Every year you try and get better: that’s my philosophy,” he says.
“And the only way to do that is with a positive mindset and strong work ethic.”
With 54 points in 37 games, he was nominated for the Hobey Baker Award as the NCAA’s Player of the Year while collecting nine other accolades from both the University of Michigan and NCAA.
In addition to his on-ice talents, Hyman is also a published author. His first children’s book, The Bambino and Me, was released in 2014. His second book, Hockey Hero, will be released in September.
Now Hyman is ready to enter his first NHL training camp with the team he idolized as a child.
“When I got traded it was kind of a shock but a really incredible feeling getting the opportunity to play for my home town team,” he says.
His advice for young athletes is to balance academics and sports.
“If you have an opportunity to get an education and pursue your dream of whatever sport you’re playing, I encourage you to do it. Just remember that if you believe in yourself, anything is possible. Enjoy the process, enjoy the journey, and have fun with it.”
The Maple Leafs open their preseason schedule on Sept. 21 at the Air Canada Centre.