By Scott Tracey, Guelphstorm.com
Scott Kosmachuk has just signed an NHL contract worth more than $900,000 a season, but his mind is a little closer to home.
“We have a really phenomenal team this year and we could go all the way to the Memorial Cup, so I think it’s really important to stay focused on the Storm and not let my mind wander too much to what could be ahead,” the big winger said. “That’s really what I’m thinking about.”
Through 40 games, Kosmachuk has 28 goals and 27 assists to lead the Storm with 55 points, and is on track to shatter last season’s career-best 65 points.
He was drafted in the third round — 70th overall — by the Winnipeg Jets in 2012. A week before Christmas, the Jets announced they had signed a three-year entry-level contract with the 19-year-old Toronto native.
“That was obviously a bit of a treat,” Kosmachuk said recently. “It’s something you work towards your whole career, and to have it happen now when the (Storm) is doing so well was really special.”
Kosmachuk is known as a player who truly enjoys the game, and that has been true since he began skating at age three and playing a year later.
“I’ve just always enjoyed playing,” he said, noting like many players he spent a lot of his childhood in rinks with older brothers Stephen, 23, and Dylan, 21. “Even at my older brother’s games I’d be running around with a mini-stick and a ball.”
His dad Tim Kosmachuk said because Scott and Dylan are so close in age, he and wife Wendy arranged for Scott to play up a year.
“I worked at night a lot so my wife ended up taking the boys to hockey and it was easier for her for Scotty and Dylan to play on the same team,” Tim remembers. “So Scott ended up playing with guys that were just a bit older and it was really competitive.”
At seven Kosmachuk was drafted to play for the Toronto Marlboros of the Greater Toronto Hockey League, from which he was drafted by the Storm in 2009.
Tim Kosmachuk recalls when Scott first got on the ice, he wasn’t too interested in participating in drills.
“He would fall down … and I’d be watching him and wondering if he was going to get up because he would just lay there for about five minutes. A couple of times I wondered if he had dozed off.”
Scott has obviously matured as a person and as a player, which has become more obvious during his four years with the Storm. He accepts that he has become a role model for the team’s younger players.
“Once you get into your fourth year you get more comfortable and a lot of the younger guys sort of look up to and respect you,” Kosmachuk said. “Mostly I just try to be really positive and set a good example for the younger players.”
So what does dad think is next for the potential NHLer?
“A lot of hard work,” Tim says. “You’re not there until you’re there, and even when you’re there you’re looking over your shoulder because there are a lot of guys looking to take that spot.”
While Scott at this point is understandably focused on hockey, his parents are always thinking of a potential Plan B.
“His mom made him promise he’ll continue his education and maybe take business courses or something,” Tim, who owns a janitorial company, says. “It’s important to always have something to fall back on.”
Scott Tracey is a Guelph-based writer. He can be reached at email@example.com or followed on Twitter @scottjtracey