Kukla's Korner

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Hard Work Has Paid Off For Kyle Connor

from Nicholos J. Cotsonika of NHL.com,

Connor's journey hasn't been a straight line, but it all goes back to that garage mentality: Work hard to make the most of your talent. Love it so much it doesn't feel like work.

"He's always one of the hardest workers on the ice," said Detroit Red Wings goalie Alex Nedeljkovic, who played with and against Connor growing up and trains with him in the offseason. "He's always giving it 100 percent, and it's no surprise. I wasn't really surprised when I [saw] him putting up 25, 30 goals a year. I think he's honestly pretty underrated throughout the League as a goal-scorer."

When Connor was little, his family lived in New Baltimore, Michigan. He'd Rollerblade in the cul-de-sac and play hockey in the unfinished basement.

Later, his family moved to a house on Blue Cloud Drive in Shelby Township, Michigan, perfect for a kid with his head in the clouds and a drive to play in the NHL. The lot was big enough for his father, Joe, to build a backyard rink, so he could come home from practice, turn on the lights and skate for hours outdoors. Sometimes he'd shoot on a cousin who played goalie.

"He was always busy doing stuff," said his mother, Kathy. "He was not a kid that would sit around on a Saturday afternoon."

His mother said he would shoot 100 pucks a day when he started working in the garage, breaking a window once, leaving marks on the concrete and cinderblocks. Joe Smaza, his coach then, said it was probably more like 500 pucks a day -- the first 100 as hard as possible to build strong hands, the next 100 to pick one upper corner, the next 100 to pick the other upper corner and so on, each shot with a purpose.

"I honestly felt that helped a lot with just having a quick release and just muscle memory and being able to shoot the puck like that," Connor said. "It's something where it's fun as well."

much more

Filed in: NHL Teams, Winnipeg Jets, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.

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