Bogosian stays true to his roots

Jets defenceman Zach Bogosian fires a shot during the warmup prior to facing the Capitals at the...

Jets defenceman Zach Bogosian fires a shot during the warmup prior to facing the Capitals at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg, Man., Nov. 17, 2011. (BRIAN DONOGH/QMI Agency)

KIRK PENTON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:47 AM ET

WINNIPEG - His name is Zach, and he has a problem.

“I kind of have a cowboy boot obsession,” Jets defenceman Zach Bogosian said with a chuckle on Monday. “I have, like, twenty pairs now. It’s kind of getting out of hand. My mom always makes fun of me.

“I have white, black, brown, blue. The bottoms are the same, but it’s usually the neck on the boot that’s the different, crazy colour. But I cover them up so no one can really tell.”

Bogosian is a 21-year-old making some solid coin after signing a two-year, $5 million deal with the Jets in August, but he’s still the same guy who grew up in Massena, N.Y., located in the northern part of the state on the other side of the St. Lawrence River from Cornwall, Ont.

Bogosian owns quite a few firearms — “I have way too many guns. If you don’t have a gun in your house, you’re weird in Massena, New York,” he said — and likes to hunt turkeys. He even owns a bird dog, a chocolate Lab that is currently training in Georgia. If you need to locate Bogosian quickly in Winnipeg, it would be wise to head to Cabela’s on Ellice Avenue, where you’d probably find him loading up on outdoor clothing and equipment.

“That’s where I do most of my shopping for my clothes and everything,” he said. “I’m not the flashy type of guy. I don’t wear anything real nice. If you see me around town, you’d recognize me if I have a pair of cowboy boots on and probably some Wranglers and some type of plaid. I’ve always been like that. No matter how much money you make, you never forget where you’re from.

“It’s a passion of mine. I love hunting. It’s kind of my getaway from hockey. A lot of guys make fun of me. They call me a redneck, but it’s something I have a lot of fun doing.”

It’s impossible to make fun of Bogosian’s play right now. He has appeared in all 38 games, and has three goals and 13 assists, the latter of which has already matched a career high. The only Jet who logs more ice time per game is veteran defenceman Toby Enstrom, and Bogosian often goes up against the opposing team’s best line.

There were serious questions about Bogosian’s future with the franchise last year in Atlanta, and he’s by no means the perfect player yet, but it’s looking pretty good for the third overall draft pick in 2008, behind only Steven Stamkos and Drew Doughty.

“There was a point last year where they didn’t know where he was,” Jets head coach Claude Noel. “There was talk of trading him. I remember reading that stuff and thinking, ‘Whoa, really? A young player like that? You don’t see that.’

“So I’m real happy. To me it’s the growth from now to where we’re going to and how’s that going to go. We’re not trying to expedite the process. It just needs time with maturity, and he’s got those things. This is a really good place for him right now.”

It was no secret that Bogosian clashed with Thrashers assistant John Torchetti last year in Atlanta, so his relationship with Jets assistant Charlie Huddy can’t be overlooked as a factor in his improved play. They have a pre-game video session before every game.

“He makes it fun to play hockey, and he’s real calm back there,” Bogosian said. “So he doesn’t really get too mad back there. If you make a mistake he understands that hockey is a game of mistakes, but you’re going to go out there and have a chance to prove yourself again.”

While he has settled in Winnipeg on a professional level, Bogosian has yet to help control the wild turkey population in Manitoba. It is, however, on his to-do list.

“Maybe next year when I get more settled in and kind of know the area a little better I’ll have a chance to go out,” he said. “I’m American, too, so I’ll have to get my Canadian licence. I’ll have to square that away before I get myself in a little bit trouble.

“It’s a different place than my hometown. You can kind of walk out my front porch and start shooting. I kind of live in the middle of nowhere, so it’s a little different.”

ZACH ATTACK

A look at some of Zach Bogosian’s numbers this season, aside from goals and assists:

Games played: 38 (T-1st)

Ice time/game: 23:56 (2nd)

Blocked shots: 59 (2nd)

PIMs: 47 (2nd)

Hits: 74 (T-4th)

Shots: 69 (7th)

Takeaways: 7 (T-11th)


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