The path to the 2020 NHL Draft is a familiar one for Windsor Spitfires center Jean-Luc Foudy.
The same one was blazed two years previous by his older brother, Liam.
And the younger Foudy said he was benefitting from that experience and advice — especially when it comes to navigating a sometimes bumpy road.
“[Liam] had a pretty interesting path in his draft year,” Jean-Luc explained. “He just said there will be tough times and there will be some rough patches in your draft year — you can’t get too down on that, and when you’re going you’re going.
“Don’t let the negative parts of the year hold you back.”
Although the season can feel like it goes by in a blur — all the more so in this pandemic-shortened campaign — Jean-Luc has the understanding his path is a marathon, not a sprint.
“[Liam said] when you’re in slumps and things aren’t going your way, you have to push through it,” said Jean-Luc, No. 31 in FCHockey’s Spring ranking for the 2020 draft. “It’s a 68-game season, so if you have a bad game in the 12th game, you can always bounce back.”
It’s a lesson Liam said he learned the hard way and wanted to share that experience with his brother.
“The more you start thinking about [the draft] the more it affects your game,” Liam said. “That’s what I told him. “I started thinking about it and didn’t play as well — so try different things before the game and try to get it off your mind if you’re thinking about it at all. Just go out there and have fun, basically.”
In all, it ended up being a 62-game season, during which Jean-Luc participated in 59 games, accounting for 43 points (15 goals, 28 assists). Though the numbers are similar, Jean-Luc nearly doubled his goal-scoring totals from the previous year where he scored eight.
A large part of that is his focus on improving his shot — a deficiency he identified as a result of his rookie campaign in the Ontario Hockey League.
“Going through your first year, you’re trying to see where you’re at — your strengths and your weaknesses,” Jean-Luc said. “In the summer I worked on my weaknesses to get better — I shot a lot of pucks over the summer.”
Having an older brother who has scored 28, 36, and 24 goals in the past three seasons helps.
Liam added that it’s no secret that Jean-Luc’s shot could improve.
“He’s knows it’s his shot — that’s the biggest thing and it’s something we’ve worked on,” Liam said. “He’s not a big shooter and he doesn’t have the best shot. Over the summer, we worked on it a lot and that’s something he keeps working on.”
That said, Liam knows Jean-Luc has him beat in one key area of the game — and that the brothers work to share their strengths with each other.
“Passing, for sure,” he suggested. “He’s a great passer and sees the ice really well. That’s something that he tries to help me out with and it works vice-versa, giving each other tips and helping each other out.”
They’re helping each other out, naturally, despite being on opposite ends of the battle.
With Jean-Luc starring for Windsor and Liam playing a key role with London, the brothers are on opposing sides of one of the most heated rivalries in the OHL, separated by only a couple hundred kilometers of the 401.
Jean-Luc said it adds a bit of extra flair to the games.
“Now we’ve played each other so many times, even with last year’s playoffs, it’s always a big game when you’re playing against your brother,” Jean-Luc said. “You want to beat London and then you want to beat your brother — we already hate each other.”
The teams hate each other, not the brothers, right?
“Oh, yeah,” Jean-Luc said, adding that their parents have done a pretty good job keeping the rivalry in perspective.
“They’re pretty used to it. They just want to see both of us succeed and they’re happy no matter who wins.”
Liam said he shares Jean-Luc’s passion for the rivalry and enjoys playing against — and beating — his brother.
“You always want to win and I think I’ve done a pretty good job of that last year in the playoffs and this year we’re doing well,” Liam said. “I just try to keep beating him every time I play him.”
But that rivalry doesn’t extend off the ice.
While Liam was drafted with the 18th overall pick in the 2018 NHL Draft by the Columbus Blue Jackets, he wants to hear Jean-Luc’s name called much earlier than his was.
Prior to the Covid-19 shutdown, the Foudy family was planning to attend the draft to support Jean-Luc.
The path, understandably, is now different.
The support, though, remains the same.
“I want him to go higher [in the draft] than me,” Liam said. “It would be a cool accomplishment for him.”