“I don’t think anyone goes into a training camp not wanting to make the team. I think that’s definitely a goal of mine.”
On Sunday afternoon David Quadrelli and myself sat down with Jack Rathbone to chat for about 25 minutes. We got into everything from his time with Harvard to the Storm Trooper suit that he wore to go with his little brother’s Darth Vader attire on Halloween.
Rathbone was drafted in the fourth round of the 2017 draft and signed this past July during training camp 2.0.
For this written format of the interview I will be using DQ as a question from Quadrelli and CF as a question from myself. JR will indicate Rathbone’s answers.
CF: What’s this Covid offseason been like for you?
JR: Yeah, it’s different. I think everyone is dealing with the modifications. Like my trainer used to have free to walk in whenever, but now you got to come in a certain time, walk in and out from a certain door, wear a mask, and all that. But training has been good. With the start date being up in the air right now, people don’t really know when to ramp it up because you don’t wanna burnout. But it’s been good, trying to stay in shape and get on the ice as much as possible.
CF: The joke that I’ve heard is that everyone is going to come into camp with 20 extra pounds of muscle from the basement workouts in quarantine. Are we gunna see you add 30 pounds Jack?
JR: Hahaha, I’d like to think so. Hopefully not in the stomach! I’m not the biggest guy, so anytime I get a little extra time in the gym or a little extra time to prepare off ice, that’s a positive for me.
DQ: You now know you will have a place to play here in North America with the AHL announcing they are trying to come back February 5th. Did the thought of going overseas every cross your mind?
JR: It definitely crossed my mind, one of my close buddies from Harvard Jack Drury signed in the SHL at the beginning of their season. Talking with him was what introduce to idea to me but after talking with Vancouver and what they thought was the best plan of action for me was to stay here. I think in the back of their minds, they had an idea that there was going to be some hockey to play in North America, whatever level that be. Again, like I mentioned before any extra time I can get to train and work on my game off the ice, that’s a huge positive for me.
CF: A lot of players say that the jump from the CHL to professional hockey is the hardest but we are seeing more and more college kids have success right out of school when they make the jump. Do you feel you are ready after your two years at Harvard?
JR: I think so. I think college hockey in general you are kind of playing against what are considered men already. A lot of guys coming in as 21-year-old freshmen definitely some older guys and bigger bodies. Maybe a little bit more wide open in terms of the play when compared to the AHL and the NHL. I wanted to play college hockey every since growing up. It’s hard not to when you’re growing up as a Boston kid.
DQ: For Canucks fans who haven’t seen you play yet, what would you say your biggest strength and weakness is?
JR: I’d say my strength is my offensive creativity and my skating ability. Being able to transition the puck from defence to offence and kind of be that fourth forward. My weakness or something that I’m always trying to work on is a lot of just defensive positioning, my feet can allow me to do some things that can get me in trouble sometimes so a lot of decision making on when to jump and when not to. Those are a couple of things I’ve been working on for the past two years. Through video and help from coaches, I’m ready to continue to develop and make that transition a little bit easier.
DQ: What can you tell us about your relationship with Thatcher Demko?
JR: He’s awesome, he’s been great for me. Obviously the player that he is, looking up to him kind of as a role model. I was a freshman in high school when he was here and he would come over for a home cooked meal and whether it was pond hockey or playing Xbox. I obviously looked up to him, he didn’t have to but he was a really nice guy to me. He was great and definitely helped me and seeing the success he had in the postseason was really fun for me and my family. I’m psyched to get reacquainted with him and hopefully play with him one day.
CF: No doubt, you want to show him how that slap shot has improved?
JR: I hope, I hope from freshman year it has a bit haha!
CF: What did you think of his performance in the playoffs, that was unreal right?
JR: If you don’t watch hockey, you know how good he played. I knew he capable of it from watching him at BC but watching him do it at the highest level was really cool for me and my family, it was something we loved watching.
CF: I find it very interesting that you brought up being offensively creative as one of your strengths. That’s not something we heard players talk about 10 years ago. Why do you describe one of your biggest strengths like that?
JR: Yeah, I think being able to get out of your zone first and foremost for a d-man but then once you do, trying to make plays and create offense. Whether it’s getting the puck in the forwards hands and let them do it themselves or if you have to jump in and be that fourth forward I think the way the game is trending right now, d-men are almost rovers in the offensive zone. There’s no more set structure. I think that suits my game and something that I’m excited to hopefully get the opportunity to do at the highest level.
Quads then asked the hard-hitting question on everyone’s mind:
DQ: Do you feel you’re NHL ready?
We spoke with Canucks prospect Jack Rathbone earlier today and Quads brought the hard hitting questions!
We had an amazing conversation with Rathbone. He's an excellent guy off the ice and will fit in great with the current crop of young players.
More to come later this week! pic.twitter.com/snbknAwx3T
— Canucks Conversation Podcast (@CanucksConvo) November 2, 2020
DQ: Did the thought ever cross your mind of staying at Harvard and then going the free-agent route?
JR: I mean, you’ve seen guys do it before so you know it’s a possibility but (from) the Canucks player development staff, management, coaches and two development camps I got a great feeling and loyalty is something that’s pretty big to me. So I knew they took a chance on me. The decision to go to the USHL or to go back to prep school, I think they were great. They gave me space to be able to make that decision on my own. They have been great to me and whether its with the relationship with Chris Higgins or Ryan Johnson, those guys have been great for me in terms of trying to grow as a player. I think that was something that I knew I wanted to be a part of this kind of an organization and work alongside guys like that.
DQ: What were your initial thoughts of Vancouver?
JR: I mean, it’s beautiful. I actually had ankle surgery literally the first day of development camp last year. So I couldn’t attend development camp. I was bummed because being able to experience being a professional hockey player for a week was the highlight of my summer. I was pretty bummed I wasn’t able to go to that camp but the city is beautiful, the fans are unbelievable so I’m pretty psyched to get things going.
DQ: Final question here, do you have any goals going into Canucks training camp this Winter?
JR: Ya, I don’t think anyone goes into a training camp not wanting to make the team. I think that’s definitely a goal of mine; to play in the NHL this year. Honestly, I just want to learn as much as possible with this being my first year pro. I just want to be a sponge, try and learn as much as possible from the older guys and anyone who attends camp. That will be an incredible opportunity for me and it’s something I’m excited to get going.
The full interview will be available Wednesday on the Canucks Conversation podcast. Give it a listen to hear more from Rathbone. He seems like a good kid with a great head on his shoulders. Rathbone will be at camp this Winter to compete against Olli Juolevi and Brogan Rafferty to be on the Canucks’ third pairing.
It’ll be a fun competition to follow at training camp and Rathbone has all the skills in the world to surprise management and the coaching staff.