January 17, 2018

Unknown Canadian: Brandon Kozun

Toronto Maple Leafs fans may remember this 2018 Canadian Olympian.

Brandon Kozun is one of three former Leafs on the team, joined by Mason Raymond and Ben Scrivens.

Kozun was born in Los Angeles, but he was a dual citizen thanks to his Canadian mother. The family moved to Calgary when Kozun was 10 years old, partly because of his burgeoning hockey ability.

Kozun committed to playing for Canada internationally when he skated for Canada's silver medal winning team at the 2010 World Junior championships. Kozun reportedly turned down a guaranteed spot on the American team, and tried out for the deeper Team Canada. Kozun scored the shootout winner against Team USA in the round robin, but the Americans got the better of Team Canada in the gold medal game.

The pint-sized right winger was scoring sensation with the WHL's Calgary Hitmen. He developed a reputation as a tireless worker and great skater, but nothing ever came easy for Kozun. He went undrafted in 2008, and was a late round pick of the Los Angeles Kings in 2009.

Kozun would play four seasons for the Kings' AHL farm team, but never got a sniff at the NHL despite some impressive play.

Kozun joined the Toronto Maple Leafs organization in 2013. He would get a 20 game look the Leafs in 2014-15, impressing in training camp and making the team at the start of the year. A bad knee injury derailed his progress.

Kozun read the writing on the wall. He knew he was destined to be return to the buses of the minor leagues, so he jumped at the larger paychecks over in Europe. After a year in Finland he suited up for KHL Yaroslavl where he became a top scorer.

This season Kozun has actually been snake-bitten in that the offense has not always come easy for Kozun. But he was so determined to do anything to make the Canadian Olympic team, and it won over coach Willie Desjardins.

“I look at a Brandon Kozun. He was a top five player last two years in the KHL – a leading guy – and we thought for sure he’d be on the team, and he comes in and things don’t go well the first tournament. He’s supposed to be a scorer, and he’s not scoring…What’s he do? He finds another way to make the team.”

“We had to name him just because how hard he worked. He wouldn’t accept not making it.”

Sounds like Canada's inspirational leader might just hail from Los Angeles.

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