CHICAGO – Jason Robertson was wearing his bright green Dallas Stars jersey, given to him by general manager Jim Nill after he was selected at No. 39 overall on the second day of the NHL Draft in Chicago.
It was a dream come true for the winger, who scored 42 goals with the OHL Kingston Frontenacs last season, as both a hockey player and a hockey fan.
Say, who was your favorite team growing up again, Jason?
Robertson laughs, awkwardly, careful not to offend anyone affiliated with the franchise that selected him. “No, no: Dallas is my favorite team,” he said. “I don’t think I’ve ever been to Texas. But I like the Cowboys, so …”
If this is true now, it wasn’t true before the draft: He’s a Los Angeles Kings fan. Robertson, now 17, lived in LA until he was 10 years old, and caught the hockey bug while attending Kings games with his grandfather and his father, who were season-ticket holders. He started playing youth hockey in Los Angeles, as did his older and younger brothers.
Here are the main problems for hockey parents in LA when they have three children, of different ages, playing in youth leagues: Scheduling and traffic.
Here was the solution to those problems for Robertson’s family:
Buying an giant RV.
Robertson’s father would pile his young players into the RV, drive it to the rink and park it there until their games and practices were done.
“The rink, with traffic, was about an hour and a half away. So my older brother and my little brother played hockey. Their practices would be at three and mine would be at six. So we couldn’t just have one guy going there, and then another guy comes, and so on. And back then, once you’re done with practice, it’s an hour and a half home, so you’re getting home at 9 p.m.,” recalled Robertson.
So the boys would hang out in the RV until practice. They’d watch TV. They’d eat meals. They’d do their homework. It became a mobile command center for the family at the rink.
Around 10 years old, Robertson moved to Detroit. Things were a bit easier. “The rink was like 10 minutes away,” he said.
The family’s dedication to their young players has produced two promising talents
“It’s done a lot of miles.” I’ve come a long way.”
. Not only was Jason Robertson drafted by the Stars, but his younger brother Nick Robertson was drafted by the Peterborough Petes in the OHL Priority Selection in April.
Not bad for a couple of kids who used to battle in floorball.
“I normally dressed my littler brother up a as goalie and rip five-hole on him,” said Jason Robertson. “He just did his draft. I know two years from now, when he’s doing his NHL draft, I’ll be rooting for him. He and I have been really close in hockey.”
To make the show in the NHL one day, Robertson needs to work on his skating, which was identified by scouts as perhaps his greatest flaw as a player. “Everyone has to work on stuff. And for me, I have to work on that. The opportunity is wide open for me to get better,” he said.
Robertson knows he has a unique opportunity with the Stars. As a Filipino-American, he’d proud to be one of several players of color selected in the NHL Draft this year. “It’s nice to have this diversity. It’s really special,” he said. “To be a role model, to be a name player in Dallas, is what my goal is.”
But he’d also like to be representative of those kids stuck in LA traffic driving to the rink for practices and games.
He was one of them. And on Saturday, he drafted by an NHL team.
RV life paid off.
“It’s done a lot of miles,” he said, “and I’ve come a long way.”
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