By: Stephanie Coratti
For James McEwan, not too much has changed – even if his OHL career is winding down.
“My goal heading into this season, was just by the end, to give myself as many options as possible,” the overager said of his individual standards during his final major junior season. “That way, when it does come to an end, I gave myself as many opportunities as I could – whether that be pursuing pro, or it be going to school and getting my education, both are good options.”
Before the end, the Guelph Storm forward can check off more than a few accomplishments, including a 50-point season paired with the team’s Most Valuable Player in 2015/16, and although left undrafted through the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, has seen the professional ranks through the Pittsburgh Penguins’ main camp in 2015, and later the Montreal Canadiens main camp to start this season, leaving many questioning if he would make it back to the Storm.
“It was pretty awesome,” the fourth-year OHL veteran said of his second NHL camp in Montreal, adding that he was able to enjoy the things away from the ice a bit more the second time around. “The area we were staying in – it was in the middle of a market spot and it was a really neat experience to walk around with a few other players and just enjoy where we were.”
It seems not too long ago that McEwan was stepping into the OHL for the first time, star-struck at the chance to wear formerly Brock McGinn’s number — his favourite player — for the Storm. All the while remembering the time spent around the 2014 Championship roster, and what sitting beside then-captain Matt Finn for four games did for him then.
It comes as no surprise though, that the five-foot-11, 194-pound centre hasn’t wavered from the attitude that has gotten him to this point.
“You should come to the rink every day with the same attitude and so that’s the look I have on everything else,” McEwan said of his growth through the years, adding that the people around him have played the most significant roles. “You have to make sure you’re surrounding yourself with the people who will bring you up, and I have a lot of people to thank for that.”
“I give so much credit to my billet family — they’re absolutely unbelievable and I owe so much to them,” he explained. “They really help me out a lot and it’s an incredible bond that we have. I’ll never forget them.”
Staying in tune with credible foundations, McEwan’s biggest obstacle hasn’t changed either.
“Being that no-name kid from Chatham,” he said with a laugh. “Chatham doesn’t really get a lot of credit, but we have a few stars from that town.”
Speaking volumes of the kind of person the Chatham, Ontario native is, McEwan chooses his proudest times from that very challenge he’s faced his whole life.
“It’s easy to give up on something because it’s not going — or shouldn’t — go your way,” the Storm forward explained. “But I know because of that, because of seeing my drive and determination at work already, I’m willing to go the extra mile and I think that shows my character and willingness to prepare myself for anything in life really.”
With a bit of reflection, the OHL veteran pairs pride with the bittersweet feeling that comes with any ending.
“It’s bittersweet to realize it’s your last year in the league, and truthfully to this day, it still hasn’t really sunk in yet,” he said. “You do need to start thinking about the future and what it potentially could be.”
“I know that extends past the ice,” McEwan continued. “To be the best that I can be, to be there for anyone at nine in the morning, or one in the morning — that’s the kind of person I am, and I’m most proud of that.”