The Blades' Kirby Dach is the definition of a team-first player
Kirby Dach has become an expert at diverting the attention he’s received for his on ice exploits back towards his team.
Take for example, his performance at the Gretzky-Hlinka World Under 18 Championship earlier this month in Edmonton. The Fort Saskatchewan product’s play was highlighted throughout several TSN broadcasts, and he put up an impressive seven points in five games, including a goal in the gold medal game against Sweden. But if you ask him, the credit goes to everyone else.
“I think I was playing with a couple good players. Kudos to those guys for helping me out, and my coaches for putting me in spots to succeed,” the 17-year-old said.
“I think anybody would’ve been able to succeed in any spot on the team, when you have 22 guys who are focused on winning a gold medal, not on personal accolades. I think that’s why we won a gold medal.”
Dach is set to begin his second full season with the Saskatoon Blades, and that attitude of “play for the logo on the front, rather than name on the back” was on full display.
When peppered with questions about the year he’s set to begin, which will likely culminate with him being a top 10 pick in the 2019 NHL Draft, he five times reverted back to talking about the Blades making the postseason.
“You just got to try and block out the noise as much as you can, not focus on that stuff too much, and I think you’ll be okay,” he said.
Personal goals for this year?
“I’m just focused on helping the team make the playoffs, that’s my only goal this year,” Dach reiterated.
He simply won’t talk about himself, but luckily his play and the numbers he’s put up do a lot of the talking for him. Dach, the 2nd overall pick in the 2016 bantam draft, registered 46 points in 52 games as a 16-year-old WHL rookie, good for .88 points per game. Those totals are likely to rise.
“You need the drive and you need the work ethic. If you don’t have that, you’re not going to be an elite player,” said Saskatoon Blades head scout Dan Tencer.
“Kirby has that. Kirby has all of the skill and everything you’re looking for in a six-foot-three-and-a-half, right-shot, intelligent centre with skill. I can guarantee you, there’s no part of his game that he did not work on in the summer time.”
Being a top prospect in your NHL draft year means the attention paid to you goes up. More attention from scouts and all kinds of media. It also means much, much more attention from your opposition.
“He’s going to play against other teams top players, as well as checking players. The one thing that he can do is just control what he does best,” said Blades head coach Mitch Love. “That’s come to the rink with a purpose and work, and get better in the weight room. Get better in terms of the tutelage that he’ll be receiving, and then go and apply that along with the skill set that he has, which is a very nice skill set.”
There’s a lot of hype and excitement surrounding Dach enterting the 2018/2019 WHL regular season, but he’s more excited about his team’s chances to win some games.
"With the teams that went through last year, like Moose Jaw, (Regina) and Swift Current, we kind of looked at them and we're like, 'Okay, we kind of have that coming here now,”” he said.
“I think it's our year to make some noise and go far in playoffs. I’m excited that the fans are going to be behind us. It's going to be a fun year."
The Blades preseason schedule begins Thursday night in Prince Albert, while opening night is set for September 21 in Swift Current.