For some NHL players, careers are defined by awards and accolades, accomplishments in the stats column. There are players, though, that for however skilled or talented they are, there’s a seemingly endless path paved with setbacks and detours. It could easily be said that Vancouver Canucks forward Brock Boeser has had that experience.
Appearing on Sportsnet’s After Hours Saturday night, Boeser elaborated on the rough road he’s had during his NHL tenure, “I think the NHL is a hard league, and everyone has their ups and downs, but I think what I went through is a little different than the normal person.”
His early years in the league were marred by injury. A spinal fracture in his first year ended a shining rookie season. A groin injury saw him wobble in and out of the line-up in the early weeks of his sophomore year. A concussion, upper body injuries, and infection would come in the seasons to follow.
It all came to a head in May of 2022, when Boeser’s father, Duke, lost his longtime battle with Parkinson’s disease. The off-ice loss hung heavy on Brock’s heart for the duration of the 2022-23 season, and after another year of on-ice turmoil, including trade rumors and injury, the Canucks winger sought out a reset.
“After the trade deadline last year passed, I kinda got to reset… I just wanted to have a good last twenty games there, and I thought I did that. Going into the summer I carried that momentum into working hard and started training earlier” Boeser said.
It certainly appears that reset has helped Boeser find his game once again. Last year, Boeser didn’t register a goal until Nov. 18. This season, Boeser has wasted no time in getting himself in the goal column. It’s the first time since his rookie season that the Canucks winger has registered 20 goals before the Christmas break, when he tallied his 20th of the year on Dec. 23. Now, just 29 games into the season, Brock Boeser has two natural hat tricks.
On Tuesday night, the Canucks forward registered his fifth career hat trick in a 4-1 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning. The hat trick goals serve as Boeser’s 19, 20, and 21st goals of the season, and has him tied for first in the league for goals. His first three goal night came during the spectacular season opening 8-1 win over the Edmonton Oilers. It’s the first time in 37 years a Canucks player has a pair of natural hat tricks in one season. Petri Skriko last did it in 1986-87.
He’s the seventh Canuck to score 20 or more goals through the first 30 games of the season. It’s quite a stunning start for a forward who’s had to continually press on in the face of near never-ending hardship.
Now on pace for 50 goals, Boeser largely credits his success this season to his focus on the detailed parts of the game. Discussing that offensive success in Tuesday’s post-game media scrum, the Canucks forward told reporters, “Yeah, it’s obviously really awesome, especially after last season.”
“With that being said, if I focus on that too much I feel that I get away from my game. So I got to continue to focus on what’s giving me success, and that’s all those little details,” said Boeser.
That refocusing is evident in the evolution of Boeser’s defensive play. The Canucks winger has become a tough combatant along the boards, aggressively engaging in battles and producing turnovers. He’s also been quick to close the gap and takeaway space on the backcheck. With a refreshed mindset, he’s flourishing into a sniper with a solid 200-foot game.
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There is, perhaps, no other Canucks player that deserves a superstar season more than Brock Boeser. The Canucks forward has remained humble and hardworking despite dealing with everything from trade rumors to personal tragedy. It’s the kind of story that resembles those told of a phoenix rising from the ashes, reemerging anew. Brock Boeser is back, and possibly, better than ever.