When the Anaheim Ducks made Emerson Etem their first round pick at the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, they effectively chose what amounts to home grown talent.
Etem, from Long Beach, California, is one of a long line of Americans to land in the Western Hockey League in recent years. He is off to a quick, productive start in this, his third full season in the WHL. Just this past week, he was named both the WHL and CHL Player of the Week.
Etem, 19, is an eloquent, well-spoken young man who appears to be as energetic off the ice as he is while creating havoc for opponents on the rink.
“He has been fantastic,” said Tigers head coach Shaun Clouston. “He has figured in the scoring in all of our games this season. He has very elusive speed, surprising speed, he hits full stride in a short period of time. Emerson brings positive energy, he loves to be at the rink and definitely is an inspiration for our other players.
“He’s one of the guys who has gotten better every year. He does a great job with the process. He has a good routine, keeps his shifts short, understands the team concept and works well with his linemates. Where he has really improved so far is his physicality. He’s looking for more contact and is definitely looking to play harder, to go to the net harder. These are things he feels will take him to the next level.”
Etem, whose mother Patricia participated as a rower in the 1984 Summer Olympics, is also keen on establishing himself as a role model for minority groups with aspirations to pursue a career in hockey.
We spoke with Etem about his roots in the sport, from roller hockey at the YMCA in his hometown, to the 2011 World Junior Championship in Buffalo, New York, and his personal goals as a prospect in the Anaheim Ducks system.