It’s no surprise that, when asked which team he’s cheering for in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Troy Stecher skirts the question. After all, the Canucks defenceman is more focused on improving his own game so that he can eventually be part of a Vancouver team that makes the postseason.
In that purview, it makes sense that one of the teams he’s keeping a close eye on in these playoffs is the Boston Bruins.
“I really enjoy watching Torey Krug and what he does offensively with Boston, he just fits so well with their top line,” says the Richmond native. “Seems like he’s almost like a fourth forward when [Patrice] Bergeron, Pasta [David Pastrnak] and [Brad] Marchand are there.”
Stecher, who later in the interview mentioned a close friendship with Brock Boeser, obviously has designs on forming that kind of on-ice fit with the Canucks’ defacto top line of Boeser, Elias Pettersson and a revolving crew of left-wingers that mostly featured Josh Leivo this year.
“I’m sure [Canucks' general manager] Jim Benning loves [Krug], because he was in Boston with him,” Stecher speculates. “So hopefully I can kind of build a role like that and solidify myself with this team.”
Speaking to the Straight in accordance with an effort for Canadian company Mark’s “Most Well Worn” movement, the 25-year-old Stecher acknowledged that this is going to be a big offseason for him, both on and off the ice. The Mark’s campaign is a cross-country effort that highlights “passionate Canadians dedicated to their work, family and community.”
The jacket is slated for several different stops across the country, as each wearer customizes it with their own custom patch. Stecher is the jacket’s second stop thus far (the first was recording artist Jully Black).
The blueliner’s patch is a green and blue hockey jersey with the number 51 on it, all obvious nods to his profession. There’s also a blue and orange ribbon, however, meant to signify the colours of MS and diabetes.
Those are nods to two important members of the Stecher family: his father, who has been a diabetic all his life and his stepsister, who was recently diagnosed with MS.
“Two diseases without a cure, and I just wanted to try and use my platform to create awareness for those charities.”
It ties into some longer-term goals that Stecher has in the way of giving back; he’s currently looking into hosting a charity golf tournament in either late July or early August at his home course, Richmond Country Club.
On the ice, Stecher is also looking for ways to up his game. One way is improving his shot, which he thinks would go a long way toward becoming an offensive producer in the NHL. His best season points-wise was his rookie year, when he had 24 points in 71 games. He’s never scored more than three goals in a single season.
“It’s no secret, I think that’s where everyone knows I need to improve, putting some mustard and some power behind [his shot]. If I’m able to do that, I feel like my numbers will increase greatly as well,” maintains Stecher. “And that’s one area where people doubt me as well. It’s always ‘Yeah he can play, he’s a 4-5-6 guy.’ I feel like if I work on my shot to a certain extent and am able to put up 40 points, people are going to change their opinion on what type of defenceman I can be.”
The smooth-skating Krug, for the record, has only had one season with less than 40 points (he had 39). That mark would do a lot to legitimize Stecher, who has been written off his entire career. He wasn’t even drafted.
“I’m always going to be doubted, I’ve always been doubted, so I just need to continue to rise to the occasion and prove people wrong,” he says. “Working on my overall body strength. I definitely want to get quicker, felt like my first step on my pivots to the outside were a little slow at the end of the year, just getting tired, need to work on my leg strength, be more explosive.”
Whatever the result of his offseason efforts, Stecher will likely continue to be one of the team’s most popular players among a rabid fanbase that he was once a part of.
“Passionate, for sure, somewhat intelligent,” says Stecher when asked to describe Vancouver Canucks fans. Having grown up idolizing the club, he has a better idea than most would of the nature of the Vancouver fanbase. (“He wore a [Markus] Naslund jersey every damn day,” says his father Peter.)
“I think as a fan, you’re entitled to your own thoughts and opinions. But some of them to me are just blown out of proportion, which is fine. At the end of the day, it just shows that they care and the city wants us to win and wants us to succeed. That’s the most important part as a player, understanding that the fanbase has your back.”
Follow @ncaddell on Twitter