Flames prospect Ryan Culkin learning from Patrick Roy
WES GILBERTSON, QMI Agency
|Quebec Remparts defenceman Ryan Culkin skates during warmups prior to facing the Shawinigan Cataractes in Quebec City, Que., Aug. 24, 2012. (STEVENS LeBLANC/QMI Agency)
CALGARY - In case you’re wondering, Patrick Roy hasn’t mellowed much.
As a kid growing up in Montreal, defenceman Ryan Culkin was a big fan of the stingy, surly puck-stopper.
Now in his third campaign with Roy’s Quebec Remparts of the QMJHL, the Calgary Flames’ prospect can confirm the Hockey Hall-of-Famer is just as competitive as ever.
“I viewed Patrick Roy as one of my idols. He won four Stanley Cups. He’s the greatest goaltender ever,” Culkin said. “But then once you get to know him, he’s just your coach. He does a great job of developing young players. He’s always really honest with his players. He never lies. He tells the truth right to your face.”
No surprise there.
The title of Roy’s biography — ‘Winning. Nothing Else,’ which was written by his own father — pretty well sums it up. And as the co-owner, GM and head coach of the Remparts, the Montreal Canadiens and Colorado Avalanche legend is still bringing that same attitude to the rink each day.
“It’s not fun when you’re in the doghouse,” Culkin admitted. “But sometimes, you need that to wake up. And he’s the best guy to do it.”
Culkin hasn’t given his head coach much to complain about so far this season.
After becoming Flames’ property in the fifth round of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, the 18-year-old has collected three goals and 11 assists in 14 regular-season games. His plus-10 rating is tied for the third-best mark on his team.
A testament to his impressive performance so far is Culkin was selected last week to skate for Team QMJHL in the 2012 Subway Super Series against Russia’s world junior wannabes.
“Ryan is a good offensive defenceman. He plays well defensively, also,” Roy said through the Remparts’ communications staff. “He plays first-string on the powerplay and also first-string on the penalty-killing. He reads the play well and transitions well.
“He logs major minutes, too, because his cardio is above-average. He will continue to work on the strength of his shot and upper-body strength in order to accomplish his dream of playing in the NHL.”
While Culkin repeatedly credits Roy’s coaching as the biggest reason for his development at both ends of the ice, the 6-foot-1, 176-lb. rearguard says the Flames have also played an important role.
In his own words, Culkin was “quite shocked” to be selected last June, but he’s proving the Flames’ scouting staff made a wise investment.
“If they have the confidence in you to pick your name, then obviously you’re doing something right,” Culkin said. “When they drafted me and I went to development camp (in July), just playing with the talent on the ice was also
a big confidence booster. The speed was a lot faster. The decision-making was a lot faster. So when I came back to my junior hockey team, the confidence was a big help.”
Culkin isn’t exactly pegged as a can’t-miss kid, but suddenly, Roy’s stories from his NHL playing days don’t seem so far-fetched.
“I would say the NHL dream is more of an NHL goal now,” Culkin said. “I obviously know I have to get a lot bigger and a lot stronger, and I’m taking the next step in doing that in the gym after practice. I’m going to work my butt of as much as possible to make it to the NHL.”
1. G Jon Gillies
A freshman netminder for the Providence Friars, Gillies posted his first shutout on the weekend. The 18-year-old backstop has been fooled only 10 times in six starts and boasts a sparkling 1.72 goals-against average and .938 save percentage.
2. C Roman Horak
His five-game goal-scoring spree came to an end, but the 21-year-old Czech centre has points in seven straight for the Abbotsford Heat, collecting seven goals and one assist in that span.
3. LW Turner Elson
Not necessarily known for his offensive exploits, the Red Deer Rebels captain lit the lamp twice in Saturday’s shootout victory over the Calgary Hitmen.
Before the Hamilton Bulldogs scored Sunday’s game-winner with a man-advantage, the Abbotsford Heat had killed off 26 straight penalties to start the season. Their 96.4% success rate while shorthanded is tops in the AHL.
“So I guess in Rhode Island we have hurricanes #notinontario #hellosandy”
— Providence Friars freshman Mark Jankowski, a product of Hamilton, prepares for the big storm
On Twitter: @SUNGilbertson