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Interview – Canadiens Prospect Owen Beck Is Hungry For More Success

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Montreal Canadiens prospect Owen Beck

Owen Beck is not your standard second-round draft pick.

Prospect scouting has come a long way in the last decade. What was originally an experiment in discovering raw hockey skills has quickly evolved into a broader approach, one that focuses on intelligence and maturity in addition to the traditional valued strengths.

Fresh off a hat-trick performance for the Mississauga Steelheads, Beck certainly possesses the type of talent that is usually found in high-end prospects.

Paired with a cerebral approach, it allows him to quickly absorb information and put it into practice, maximizing his raw skills in the process.

It also leads to instant chemistry alongside any given line mate, driven by Beck’s high-end anticipation and vision.

Many athletes have a bank of preformulated answers they use to answer the vast majority of questions they’ll face during a year, but that’s not the case with Beck.

His answers are honest and well thought out.

When asked about his cohesion with various players, Beck pauses for a moment, taking the appropriate time to formulate a question-specific answer.

He repeats the same thoughtful process after every question, except one. More on that later.

In this case, Owen Beck quickly projects a game-time situation which allows us to not just understand the process, but also picture the exact situation he’s discussing.

“A lot of hockey IQ, knowing where your teammates will be,” he said. “Definitely vision too, knowing where you need to be to get the puck before you get it. A lot of times there’s a puck in tight space, and there’s a release valve on the weak side that you can hit, so being able to spot that before you get pressured or checked is very important.

“It’s just being able to learn different guys’ playstyles, and finding a way to compliment their games,” he adds. “It’s not really one secret recipe, you have to play it by ear and figure out how they like to play.”

Beck’s intelligence and maturity don’t just allow him to anticipate where his linemates and opponents will be at any given time, they’re the driving force behind the reason why the Montreal Canadiens offered him an entry-level contract following his first preseason game.

As Beck was scrambling to find an area to meet up with his father and step mother, his Montreal-based agent, Dan Shakibaian, delivered the great news.

Receiving an early entry-level contract from a team in a hockey-crazed market like Montreal may lead to an overwhelming sense of pressure in some cases, Beck’s stoic approach allows him to keep a level-headed approach.

“I’m a calm player, I don’t let things get to me,” said Beck. “Adam Nicholas said it best. We’re playing a kid’s game here, It’s supposed to be fun. Obviously, I’m having fun while I’m on the ice.

“There’s pressure, but I expect a lot from myself, and if I hadn’t, I wouldn’t be where I am. I’m not afraid of having that many people watch my career. Training camp was a huge confidence booster. I knew what I could come in and do. It worked out really well for me, because I think I have a style of play that translates really well to the professional level.”

Not only is he having fun on the ice, but with 13 goals and 9 assists in 15 games Beck has almost doubled his offensive production, and it hasn’t come at the expense of his usual stalwart defensive work.

Once again, his anticipation comes into play.

Few and far between are the games that do not include a play in which Beck shuts down the opposing team and quickly transitions the play into an offensive situation.

Next Step

But despite the impressive start to the year, Beck is still hungry for more.

He wants to represent his country for the first time in his career.

“I want to put up a few more points, just to solidify that offensive upside I know I have,” he explains. “I want to prove it to a lot of people who have doubted me. I think the Steelheads could make a run at the championship this year, but I also want to play for Team Canada, that would be a huge honour. Winning a gold medal would be a dream come true.”

You’d be hard-pressed to argue Owen Beck doesn’t deserve a legitimate look for the World Junior Championship roster.

He’s outscoring many of his rivals and has the type of versatility that comes in handy for short tournaments. Not to mention, he’s one of the best players outside the NHL when it comes to winning faceoffs.

But even if he doesn’t end up on the roster, the mere fact that he’s in the conversation is an impressive accolade, seeing as Team Canada rarely uses players at the U-20 tournament that have not yet worn the maple leaf in an international tournament.

It speaks to Beck’s impressive ascension as one of the most exciting players in the Canadiens’ prospect pool, an ascension that has been driven by his methodological approach, an approach that extends well beyond hockey.

When he received his signing bonus from the Canadiens, Beck, like many young players, made a significant purchase, but unlike many young players, he didn’t make his decision on a whim.

As per usual, Beck performed his due diligence, replacing his well-travelled 2007 Toyota Yaris with a Hyundai Elantra Type S.

I’ve been doing a lot of research,” he explains. “I had some boxes I wanted to check. I wanted it to be fast, and fun, but reasonable. I didn’t want to break the bank. It needed to be good on gas and it’ll be much easier to get my hockey gear to the rink.”

Fast, fun, and reasonable.

Just like Owen Beck.

There is one question, however, that doesn’t necessitate much time to answer.

Did his father hesitate to make the jump from a lifelong Toronto Maple Leafs fan to a diehard Canadiens fan?

“Absolutely not,” said Beck. “He was wearing my Canadiens jersey with pride. My parents spent a lot of money and a lot of time driving me all over the place, and it wasn’t the best hockey. They were willing to sacrifice as long as I was happy, and the focus was on having fun.

“That’s the greatest gift you can give a young athlete.”

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habbernack

My nick name for OB is The Professor. How many teams wished they hadn’t passed on him? I think he’ll replace Dvorak next year. So we have Nick, Sean, Owen and Jake IMO as our “C” men. Now we have to find wingers for our centers as MSL did to discover our 1 st line. Find the wingers who fit with the style of play of our centers. e.g. Suzuki line. IMO every line needs a couple of scoring playmakers and a scorer. Never mind 4th line plumbers, so to speak.

Hockeyguy

May not be popular but I like offence at center and Beck would replace Evans. Resign Monahan and trade high for evans

PanchoV

I have to say Marc, been reading your stuff for 8 years and your writing is better than ever.

Thank you.

Marco D'Amico

Gotta say, bias aside, I agree with this.

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