Gostisbehere not getting caught up in the hype
SCHENECTADY Two hours before Union was set to play Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute on Nov. 15 at Messa Rink, Dutchmen junior defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere was on the telephone, being interviewed on NHL Network’s “NHL Live.”
A few days after that, he was on the radio program “The Pipeline Show” in Edmonton, Alberta. Just last week, a reporter from the Philadelphia Daily News was in town to interview Gostisbehere, who was selected by the Philadelphia Flyers in the third round of the 2012 NHL draft.
And then there is the attention he is getting from college hockey fans across the country in the Hobey Baker Award fan vote.
The hype surrounding Gostisbehere keeps growing. As much as he would love to deflect the attention away from himself, the play of the 20-year-old Gostisbehere continues to attract fans and the media.
“I just take it in stride and mostly stay humble,” said Gostisbehere, who has eight goals and 18 assists in 32 games. The ECAC Hockey Cleary Cup-champion Dutchmen (16-3-1 ECACH, 22-6-4 overall) close out the regular season this weekend with games tonight at Yale at 7 and at Brown at 4 p.m. Saturday.
“Hanging out with the guys and not blowing my head up too much. Just taking it day by day, and just being myself. I’d rather not have [the attention]. I like just being the background guy. I’m not much of a talker. I’m a shy kid. I don’t really like it, but it happens. My teammates help me get through it.”
Now, there is even more hype. With Gostisbehere a Hobey Baker candidate, the Union sports information department has sent out notebooks with Gostisbehere featured on the front and back covers. Inside one of the covers is background information on Gostisbehere. Inside the other cover is a picture of Gostisbehere playing for Team USA in last year’s World Junior Championships, in which the club won the gold medal. Above the picture are quotes from Phil Housley, who coached Team USA to the gold, RPI coach Seth Appert and New Hampshire coach Dick Umile.
Union coach Rick Bennett is impressed with how Gostisbehere is handling the hype.
“He’s been very humble about it,” Bennett said. “He hasn’t said much at all. I think his teammates have been giving him the gears enough to keep him humble, which is a good thing. He’s handled it in a first-class manner.”
Union defenseman Mat Bodie doesn’t see any change in Gostisbehere’s attitude with all the attention he is getting.
“He’s doing fine,” Bodie said. “I don’t think he is focusing on it at all. It’s nice to be recognized, but he’s not putting any weight behind it.”
Most hockey coaches probably wouldn’t allow a player to speak with the media two hours prior to a game, and especially when it’s the team’s closest rival. But Bennett didn’t mind.
“The way I look at it, if you can’t handle the pressure, then you’re probably in the wrong racket,” Bennett said. “That’s kind of the way we handled it.”
That night against RPI, Gostisbehere had two assists in the Dutchmen’s 4-3 win. The next night at Houston Field House, he scored two third-period goals to give Union a 4-1 victory over the Engineers.
After that game, Appert said, “I think that Shayne Gostisbehere is the best player in the country. We’ve played a pretty good schedule. But Gostisbehere is the best player we’ve seen this year. He’s fast, tenacious and tough. He’s fantastic.”
That is the quote featured in the notebook.
The Flyers have been closely monitoring Gostisbehere. Kjell Samuelsson of the player development department was at Messa Rink to watch Gostisbehere play against Yale Feb. 8. The following weekend, general manager Paul Holmgren and assistant GM Ron Hextall saw Gostisbehere play against Cornell and Colgate.
“We’ve been very happy with his progress,” said Flyers director of scouting and former Capital District Islanders defenseman Chris Pryor. “They’ve got a good team there, and the kid’s a big part of that team. He’s on the right path. They do a good job there with their kids.”
Flyers fans are also monitoring Gostisbehere’s progress through the Internet.
“I get a lot of fan stuff on Twitter,” Gostisbehere said. “It’s just a great organization there. They’ve got tremendous fans. They support us a lot.”
From the reports Pryor has seen, the hype doesn’t seem to affect Gostisbehere.
“I think he’s taking it in stride,” Pryor said. “Shayne’s been Shayne. He goes about his business. He’s been playing good hockey.”
Of course, the inevitable question is whether or not Gostisbehere will sign with the Flyers once Union’s season ends which, if all goes well, would be in the Frozen Four in Philadelphia.
“That’s all premature, I’ll be honest,” Pryor said. “We haven’t talked to the kid about that. Like with our other [draft picks], they should be concentrating on the job at hand right now.”
And that is how Gostisbehere feels, too.
“Gut feeling is I don’t have one yet,” Gostisbehere said. “I’m focused here. We’ve got a bunch of hockey left here and, most importantly, the second part of the season [the postseason].
“My focus is here right now.”