Red Deer Rebels defenseman Haydn Fleury need not look far for a little inspiration.
The 2014 NHL Draft eligible spent last season tutoring under Minnesota Wild first round pick Mathew Dumba. And although Dumba is in Minnesota trying to jumpstart his National Hockey League career, his example has served Fleury well back in Red Deer.
“I think he’s a huge role model for me last year,” said Fleury, who has one goal and seven points in 10 games this season. “He went through this whole process before, went to World Juniors (camp). The way he prepares for games day-in-day out is helpful.”
Should Dumba’s example slip his mind, Fleury always has fellow draft eligible Conner Bleackley to lean on. Both are potential first round picks next June, making the experience all the more relatable between the two 17-year-olds.
“We talk about it a lot but I think it’s just the healthy competition between us that will make us both better in the end,” Fleury said.
The product of Carlyle, SK also has another influence to keep him on task — coach Brent Sutter.
The former New Jersey Devils and Calgary Flames coach has cranked out several NHL defensemen as part of the Rebels program, including Dumba, Dion Phaneuf, Jeff Woywitka and Jim Vandermeer.
Sutter and rest of Red Deer’s coaching staff have kept Fleury — 10th overall in Future Considerations’ October ranking — on task.
“No matter who you are, you’re going to worry and think about it, but with our staff here, with Brent, with myself and Jeff Truit, we’ve seen this stuff and are trying to hold him grounded all the time,” assistant coach Steve O’Rourke said. “He’s a kid that listens so its not a challenge for it but there are times where you have to refocus and make sure you’re on the right page every day. It’s easy to get lost in the talk and the scouts and people talking to you.”
The message from Sutter, O’Rourke and the rest of the coaching staff has hit Fleury.
“All the coaches have been really pushing that on me, just keeping working hard and don’t let that other stuff get in your head, just take care of the team stuff first and the rest will take care of itself,” Fleury said.
But it doesn’t take Dumba, Bleackley and Sutter’s staff to keep Fleury’s head away from distractions.
According to O’Rourke, the 6-foot-3, 200-pound defenseman has the mental makeup to survive — and thrive — through the stressful draft experience.
And provide a little positive influence of his own.
“He’s just a very good down to earth kid,” he said. “He has good values, good morals. He’s easy going. It’s nice to be around him all the time. He’s a good force, a positive influence for us here.”