January 14, 2014

Jason Strudwick: On Hockey and Hungary

It's been nearly 20 years now since the junior hockey dynasty Kamloops Blazers won back to back Memorial Cup championships (1994 and 1995). What an amazing line-up: Darcy Tucker, Shane Doan and Jarome Iginla are the most famous alumni. 

But let's not forget about Jason Strudwick. After graduating from junior he made his way to NHL career featuring over 630 career games. He impressed with his physical exuberance that became his bread and butter. At 6'3" and 225lbs he was a fearsome presence on the ice. 

His career total of 13 goals and 53 points suggests what kind of defender he was. Though he was strong on his skates he lacked the quickness and mobility of his cousins Rob and Scott Niedermayer. But he concentrated on his positional play and adopted a conservative approach. He blocked shots willingly and brought energy and enthusiasm to every game he played.

Coaches trusted him but teammates loved him. He was one of the wittiest characters on the ice and in the dressing room. He was valuable leader who knew how to contribute to a team even he didn't see as much ice time as he would have liked.

Best known for playing with the Vancouver Canucks and his hometown Edmonton Oilers, "Struds" also played Chicago and both the New York Islanders and New York Rangers.

Did You Know:

Jason and cousin Rob Niedermayer played in Hungary, of all places, during the 2005 NHL lockout. 

"It was a great place to be. There's so much history everywhere you turn. Rob and I were able to get a chance to visit some great places," he said.

He also loved the food. 

"After a couple of weeks, I told Rob we should be careful because we might start packing on the pounds! 
But I loved the food. I even brought back a cookbook for my mother and one for my girlfriend."

The highlight of the hockey season was an outdoor game.

"That was definitely a huge highlight," he said "I loved it. I saw the outdoor game in Edmonton and thought it would be neat to experience that. It wasn't nearly as cold when we did it in Hungary, but the fans and the players really enjoyed it. I hadn't played outdoors in about 15 years."

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