USA TODAY US Edition
Predator no natural
Hall of Famers’ descendant says his goals take work
Though he has six goals in his first 100 minutes in the NHL, Blake Geoffrion says his Hall of Fame forebears’ naturalscoring gene missed him,
While Blake Geoffrion’s ancestry and mailing address make him a curiosity in the NHL, it is his performance level now creating a buzz in Nashville.
“When we drafted him, in the back of our minds we were all thinking, if this ever worked out, what a great story it would be,” Nashville Predators general manager David Poile said. “You’re thinking it could be something that takes your franchise in another level, and it has.”
Geoffrion is the first Tennessean to play in the NHL and the league’s first fourth-generation player. He is the son of Danny Geoffrion, who played three seasons in the NHL and one in the World Hockey Association; the grandson of Hockey Hall of Famer Bernie “Boom Boom” Geoffrion, a one-time NHL 50-goal scorer, and the great-grandson of Hall of Famer Howie Morenz, a threetime NHL MVP.
Adding another layer to the family scrapbook, he has six goals in his first 100 minutes of NHL playing time. Called up Feb. 26, Geoffrion had a hat trick in his 11th NHL game in a win at the Buffalo Sabres that moved the Predators into a playoff spot.
“I’m not natural goal scorer like my whole family was,” Geoffrion said. “My father was, my grandfather was, my great-grandfather was. It came naturally to them. They would shoot a puck from the outside and go bear down on the goalie. Do I have that ability? Not nearly like they did.”
He laughed and added, “I don’t think I’m ever going to score 50 goals in a year. But I think I have a knack for the net. I have my own way of scoring, rather than putting a nice shot over a goalie.”
Geoffrion said his goals never would be works of art. “It will be like my hat trick was — three greasy goals,” he said. “I’m willing to go to those areas where you will eventually score goals, whether they are pretty goals, ugly goals or lucky goals.”
Poile said the Predators drafted Geoffrion more for his all-around game than his scoring touch.
“We liked his worth ethic,” Poile recalled. “He was Predatorlike in the way he played. We could see him as a checking forward and a guy who could kill penalties for you.”
Geoffrion, 23, scored 27 goals in his first 107 college games and then 28 in his last 40 when he won the Hobey Baker Award as college hockey’s best player.
“Everyone has told me my whole life that I’m nothing more than a third-line center, a shutdown guy, a two-way guy,” Geoffrion said. “I pretty much waited until my senior year (at Wisconsin) to start scoring and to get the confidence that I can score.”
That senior season prompted the Predators to re-evaluate their thinking about Geoffrion.
“Nowwe see much more of an upside,” Poile said. “He has decent hands around the net. On the defensive side, he’s fearless. He blocks shots all of the time.”
Bernie Geoffrion died in 2006, meaning Blake did have enough time to know what his grandfather was about. But they rarely talked about hockey.
“We talked about off-ice stuff, like making sure you take care of family, take care of school,” Geoffrion said. “He was a big (spiritual) figure in my life. He was a big believer in God. He taught that aspect of life. . . . The thing he always said hockey-wise was, ‘If you want to score the goal, you have to shoot the puck.’ ”
Geoffrion grew up in Brentwood, a 10-minute drive from Nashville. He signed his first NHL contract at a ceremony at his old elementary school, Granbery.
“You can see the crowds now cheering because he is from Nashville,” Poile said. “And some parents may be registering their kids for hockey because of him.”