Smith sees plenty of father in Foote

Aaron Vickers2017 Draft Center, Features, WHL

Jason Smith saw plenty of longtime NHL defenseman Adam Foote during his 15-year, 1008-game National Hockey League career.

He’s seen enough out of Kelowna Rockets rearguard Cal Foote, Adam’s son, to draw the conclusion.

“I think he’s got the skill set and the passion for the game very similarly to what his dad had,” said Smith, in his first season as head coach of the Rockets.

“His dad was a hard player to play against.

“Cal plays the game hard.

“Right-handed shot. Competitive. Makes you earn what you’re going to get on the ice.

“His dad was respected for playing the game the right way and competing at the highest level all the time and Cal’s got a competitiveness in him and the will to succeed which I’m sure over time you’ll see him succeed.”

Yes, there’s another Foote on the horizon.

Adam played 1154 games during tenures with the Quebec Nordiques/Colorado Avalanche and Columbus Blue Jackets. Cal is through 131 skates in his Kelowna career, with 13 goals and 81 points spread over parts of two seasons to date.

There’s a similarity in their approach.

“I think having the experience of somebody, especially your dad, that’s gone through the process…he can give you some details behind the scenes that can really allow you to have success,” Smith said. “I think the biggest thing with Cal is he reacts to things the right way.

“If he has a bad shift or there’s a goal against his demeanor is the same all the time. He wants to do it the right way. He wants the team to do well.

“That’s the way he goes.”

Just like his dad.

“I do remember my dad playing a little bit, and being able to go down to the locker room and spend time with him and his teammates,” Cal said. “Just hanging out with those guys…I have a few memories with guys like (Matt) Duchene.

“He was really good to us. He lived with us for two years. He was like a brother. Whenever we were there he always treated us well to have us along.”

But Cal insists there’s no pressure following in the footsteps of a father who was selected 22nd overall in the 1989 NHL Entry Draft, or played over parts of 19 seasons.

Or has two Stanley Cup rings (1996, 2001).

Or has an Olympic gold (2002) and World Cup (2004) title to his name.

Or has his No. 52 jersey retired by the Avalanche.

“He knows that the name and the success his dad had is there, but he wants to make his own print and be known as a player himself,” Smith said. “He really works every day at improving and getting better. He’s not really worried about the secondary noise or making sure that he impresses everybody.

“It’s about doing things the right way and the direction that it goes will be his.”

The younger Foote, 22nd in Future Considerations’ Winter ranking for the 2017 NHL Draft, agreed.

“I don’t think there is,” said Cal, who wears No. 25 with the Rockets.

“He just wants me to do the best I can and he doesn’t really give me any pressure. I’m just trying to look to do as best as possible. If he’s not there at the game he’s watching at home on the laptop. He’s always watching and he’s always there to give me helpers.”

Draft pressure is enough.

But Smith suggested that isn’t bugging Cal, either.

Another trait from his father.

“I think it’s something that’s pretty special about him,” Smith said. “He’s on an even keel. He doesn’t get too high or too low.

“That’s something that’s important when you’re dealing with scout interviews and knowing people are there to watch and being asked questions after the game by media or scouts or by general managers that want to drop in and say hello and want to see what kind of person he is…whether you’re wound like a drum or focused on what the task at hand is.

“He does a real good job of staying in that zone that he can compete and do things the right way.”