REGINA, Saskatchewan– The relationship Connor Bedard had with his grandfather, Garth, will always be at the heart of the projected No. 1 pick in the 2023 Upper Deck NHL Draft.
This motivates him to work even harder to be the best he can be. Garth Bedard died in a car accident on April 6, 2021 at the age of 73.
“I think he was always in a good mood, always happy and ready to try anything,” Bedard, a forward for Regina of the Western Hockey League, told NHL.com last week. “It was just his positive attitude towards the world and towards people. He’s always been friends with everyone. It was pretty crazy being at the grocery store and he stayed there an extra half hour talking to someone about cards or sports.
“How hard he worked at his job; he was a lumberjack like my father and it’s a tough job but he did it until he died. he loved it Every day he got up early and went to work, but I loved the way he thought about the world.”
Bedard scored twice in a 2–1 overtime win over Brandon on April 9, 2021, three days after his grandfather’s death. He was named the game’s First Star and pointed to the sky after shooting 49 seconds into overtime.
“I don’t wear anything that was his, but I always think of him,” Bedard said. “I think he’s definitely someone I’m playing for now. I think of him during the Canadian (national) anthem before every game. Hope he’s still watching. … He loved to watch hockey. I hope I make him proud.”
There’s no question Garth is smiling down on his grandson, who leads the WHL with 123 points (59 goals, 64 assists) in 47 games. He has 33 points (15 goals, 18 assists) during a 10-game scoring streak.
Bedard, No. 1 in NHL Central Scouting’s Intermediate Ranking of North American Skaters presented by BioSteel, spoke about his shot, superstition, Connor McDavidImpact of and more in a Q&A with NHL.com:
Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid leads the NHL with 53 goals with 18 regular-season games remaining. Do you think he will score 65 points this season?
“I think he will push to 70. He seems kind of superhuman with the things he does every night. It is special to watch and will go down as one of the greatest of all time. I think he’ll say it’s not like that in his head and I believe that because he just wants to win. But once he gets close, it will be a number he wants. He had five consecutive multiple-goal games, the third player to ever do so. He’s hitting insane pace and I feel like he’s going to go past 70 with his competitiveness and everything else. I think what he’s been able to achieve in his career has been remarkable.”
It’s no secret that the most talked about part of your game is your shot. Is a shot more about where the puck is on the blade or when it’s released?
“I think it’s more of the release. I think depending on what type of shot you’re making, you want it to be in one spot. Sometimes you’re heel-shooting. Sometimes the puck is in the middle of your stick, so I think every guy is different and it’s what makes them more comfortable I have my own way.”
Outside of hockey, which game are you better at: ping pong, pickleball, or golf?
“I think maybe table tennis. My pickleball game is probably a little better than golf. I’m an OK golfer, kinda in the 90’s. Not great, but I think I’m more decent with the other two.”
If you were told that you could only use one skill in a game, what would it be?
“I think my hockey IQ. I’m proud of that. I want to make games with my game. I want to be creative and try to make things happen and of course that won’t always work. But I feel like when I see the ice and try to make plays, that’s when I’m at my best.”
At what point in your career did you feel like you could think this game two or three moves ahead like a chess player would?
“I think I’ve always wanted to kind of have my head up, something like that. I feel like for myself, my training when I was young was just about playing 2v2 with friends and I think that helped me a lot with creativity because you’re always in some kind of game situation is, even though you’re just having fun. I think that kind of helped me with stuff like that.
Is there an NHL record that you think will never be broken?
“I think Wayne Gretzky’s record for career points (2,857) is tough, but with some records you never say never. I think, Alex Ovechkin is close to a career record for goals but there are so many great players playing now. It’s hard to say that none will ever break, but I think if you ask anyone, the Gretzky point total would certainly be a pretty tough one.”
Do you have superstitions?
“Well, my whole day is exactly the same on match days. The way I do everything is very similar. I think if you look at my warm-up or my off-ice warm-up, it’s always the same patterns. I always said my stick in the same place, the same way before gluing it. I could definitely have a pretty good list (of superstitions). Most of the time I put on the left skate first, then the right skate, but for practice I put on the right skate first, left skate second.”
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