A lit­tle snarl goes a long way

Roblin’s gritty Hawry­luk gives Pan­thers a lot of won’t-back-down

Winnipeg Free Press - SundayXtra - - NHLDRAFT -

PHILADEL­PHIA — Florida Pan­thers GM Dale Tal­lon gave Jayce Hawry­luk a guar­an­tee and lived up to it. Tal­lon doesn’t know it, but Hawry­luk lives by a guar­an­tee of his own. Noth­ing will stop him from play­ing in the NHL. Noth­ing.

No one would make the mis­take of call­ing Hawry­luk an art­ful skater. And he’s got a tem­per and so far he’s been la­belled im­ma­ture and more than a lit­tle on the edge. But he’ll find a way. Guar­an­teed. The 18-year- old na­tive of Roblin and Bran­don Wheat Kings winger was selected 32nd over­all in the sec­ond round Satur­day at the NHL Draft by the Florida Pan­thers, but there was lit­tle sus­pense for Hawry­luk.

“I had a meet­ing with Florida on Fri­day and it went re­ally well. Af­ter we talked for a lit­tle while, Dale Tal­lon looked across at me and stuck his hand out and said, ‘If you’re there at 32 when we pick in the sec­ond, you’re our man.’ He was true to his word,” said Hawry­luk.

“Now, I’ve got to get to work and try to get in the best shape of my life and try to make the Florida Pan­thers. I love play­ing in Bran­don and I want to go as far as I can with the Wheat Kings. But it’s hot in Florida and get­ting out of the win­ters in Man­i­toba, well, that’s not a bad thing.”

Hawry­luk scored 24 goals and 64 points in 59 games with the Wheat Kings last sea­son. He was sus­pended three times and he says his favourite player is Brad Marc­hand.

“He’s got a great per­son­al­ity and we don’t have that kind of player. He’s hard to play against and he’s in­cred­i­bly strong,” said Tal­lon.

“Our scouts didn’t want me to tell him we were go­ing to take him, be­cause you don’t want any other teams to know what you’re think­ing.

“But I told him and he was true to his word and kept it to him­self. We’re thrilled to have him. He wants to play for the Florida Pan­thers. He’s go­ing to add a lot to us. Edge and skill.

“He plays hard but he also has skill and can fin­ish. Those guys are hard to find.”

Pan­thers head am­a­teur scout Scott Luce said Hawry­luk jumped off the page in the in­ter­view process.

“His in­ter­view with us on Fri­day — our staff has been to­gether for al­most 12 years — was top 10,” he said. “One of the best we’ve ever con­ducted. He had us laugh­ing. He got se­ri­ous at cer­tain points. And there was a lot of back and forth,” said Luce.

“We watched him a lot and he’s a player with skill and a hard­ness to him. If you watch play­off hockey, guys like Jayce have suc­cess. He can add an el­e­ment we don’t think we have right now.”

Hawry­luk was fairly vi­brat­ing when he got to the me­dia room af­ter be­ing selected Satur­day morn­ing, and he was pep­pered with ques­tions from a pack of Florida me­dia and a few Man­i­toba types.

At one point, he was asked about a scout­ing re­port sug­gest­ing he was a nasty piece of busi­ness on the ice.

“Yeah, that’s right,” said a smirk­ing Hawry­luk, not back­ing away from the com­ment or boast­fully ex­pand­ing on it. Just let­ting it lie there.

Hockey isn’t a game won by the team with the most beau­ti­ful skaters or the best shoot­ers or crafti­est stick-han­dlers.

Vic­to­ries go to the teams with play­ers will­ing to be com­plete and fo­cus on a big­ger game. That’s Hawry­luk. He’ll com­pete and he’ll push and find a way to get the edge.

The Pan­thers might not have found a skillscom­pe­ti­tion win­ner. But they’ve got them­selves a hockey player.

‘His in­ter­view with us on Fri­day — our staff has been to­gether for al­most 12 years — was top 10. One of the best we’ve ever con­ducted. He had us laugh­ing. He got se­ri­ous at cer­tain points. And there was a lot of back and forth’

Twit­ter: @gary­law­less

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