From 1999 thru 2002, Andrew Cassels spent three years playing centre for the Vancouver Canucks. Just over a decade later, another Cassels — his son, Cole Cassels — is hoping to make an impact on the west coast in the not-too-distant future.
“On draft day, after it happened, once we got back to the hotel we started reminiscing and talking about how odd it is and how cool it is,” the younger Cassels explained. Cole was drafted in the third round, 85th overall, of the 2013 NHL Draft by the Canucks, while father Andrew was a first-round selection 26 years earlier by the Montreal Canadiens.
Not surprisingly, with his father spending a 16-year career in the NHL, there’s bound to be some overlap.
“Obviously, we talked after main camp about how the experience went,” he said. “And how Daniel and Henrik [Sedin] are still there and that they knew me when I was five or six.”
Growing up in the NHL family, Cole said he has memories of Vancouver from his father’s days with the Canucks.
“Just going to the rink and morning skates, then going on the ice after,” he said. “Going to, I think it was the General Motors Centre back then, and watching the game.”
This year, at the Canucks’ training camp, he started making some memories of his own.
“It was a good experience,” he said. “It was different than OHL hockey, that’s for sure. It’s a lot faster and you’re playing with men. It was a good experience and I had a good time with it.”
Andrew was known for his offensive gifts, but Cole admits he’s not the same type of player.
“I tried to play his style of game, but he’s a lot more skilled,” he explained. “I may be a little more rough than him.”
In 64 games last season, Cassels scored 15 goals and added 28 assists. He also showed a bit of an edge, amassing 61 penalty minutes during the season. This season, he’s averaging better than a point-per-game to date, with 14 points in 12 games. Unlike his father, Cassels is also averaging a penalty per game, with 24 penalty minutes in the first 12 matches.
While admitting his game focuses on defense and grit, he’s looking to show he’s a well-rounded player.
“I think I showed the defensive side of my game a lot over the first two years and now I want to show that I can be an offensive presence on the ice as well,” he said. “I want to put up some points but at the same time not letting goals in on the other end.”
And as he works towards his own NHL dream, he knows that there are those who won’t be able to look past his name. But far from avoiding it, he’s proud of it.
“You’re always going to have people who will say you’re just here because of your dad, but in the end I’m hoping to make a name for myself,” he said. “I kind of like having that name and it’s my family name and I own it.”
Follow Jason Menard on Twitter via @JayCMenard