Boyd Gordon was as shocked as the rest of the hockey world to hear his name called by Washington Capitals General Manager George McPhee during the first round of the 2002 NHL Entry Draft.
“I didn’t really know what to expect going in. My rating was second round, but I knew Washington had some interest in me, so when they picked me, I was really happy,” Gordon said.
During Gordon’s three-year career with the Western Hockey League’s (WHL) Red Deer Rebels, the most successful junior-level organization in recent history, the 6-0, 191 pound forward has learned what it feels like to win. Gordon helped lead the Rebels to appearances in the last two Memorial Cup Finals, including a WHL championship season in 2001.
Gordon’s statistics have improved every season since joining the Rebels in 2000 (36 points in 2000, 39 points in 2001, 51 points in 2002). Gordon began his junior career exclusively as a checking forward, but was given more offensive responsibility every year, as he has become a more mature and complete player.
As one of twelve Rebels players who have played in the WHL for more than three years, Gordon has gained the rare experience of being part of a veteran team before reaching the professional level.
“It’s been great. Our coach [Brent Sutter] is awesome. He’s been [to the NHL] before, so he knows what he’s talking about,” Gordon said. “Last year’s team is probably one of the best teams I have ever or will ever play on and it’s been a great experience. We should have a good team next year and hopefully we’ll make a run for it.”
Gordon learned a lot from playing with experienced players and from having a coach like Brent Sutter, who is fifth on the New York Islanders all-time scoring list. Coach Sutter has helped Gordon to develop into one of the best two-way forwards in the junior ranks. Like current Capitals forwards Steve Konowalchuk and Jeff Halpern, Gordon prides himself on his defense and all-around game.
“I think that I am a pretty good two-way player. I try to concentrate on defense first. I think one of my best assets was speed,” Gordon said. “I just try to work hard and use my speed. I think I can be pretty effective when I’ve got those things going for me.”
Gordon participated in the Caps’ annual rookie camp earlier in the summer before participating in the World Junior camp for Team Canada. Gordon will return to Red Deer on Thursday for the final training camp of his junior career. The 18-year-old forward hopes to have another good season before turning professional by the age of 20.
“I’ll go back to junior [in 2002-2003] and I want to turn pro when I’m 20,” Gordon said. “It all depends on how I develop over the next couple of years and we’ll have to see, but hopefully I can be wearing a Caps jersey in a few years.”
Over the next few years, Gordon will continue to mold his game after established hard-working NHL veterans such as Steve Yzerman and Jeremy Roenick. Gordon has recently drawn comparisons to Caps forward Steve Konowalchuk due to his two-way capabilities and his impressive work ethic. Players like Gordon have been the heart of the Capitals teams in the past and present, so he should fit in nicely when he is ready to put on a Caps sweater.