One of the first words out of the mouth of Brett Connolly when he landed at the Calgary International Airport was “bittersweet”.
During the team’s first practice, Connolly left early with leg cramps. In his first interview afterwards, the Tampa Bay Lightning forward said all the right things, but his tone told a different story. In the first intra-squad game later that night, the former Prince George Cougar was as invisible on the ice as any.
Don Hay, Canada’s head coach for the World Junior Championship, asked Connolly to show a little more intensity, to play harder and get physical.
Connolly did just that, and may have put the future of teammate and fellow returnee Quinton Howden on the shelf for the tournament with what some teammates called a bad hit and a dirty play.
While the consensus ‘locks’ to make Canada’s club aren’t playing against the Canadian Interuniversity Sport All-Stars, there’s Connolly slated to play.
Suffice to say, Connolly has gotten off on the wrong foot in Canada’s National Junior Team Selection Camp. But is Connolly disgruntled, disinterested or just plain old misunderstood?
I will be the first to admit that I haven’t had the luxury of speaking consistently with Connolly before this camp. In fact, my only prior experience with Connolly came in his draft year, almost two years ago. I have no problems suggesting that I do not know Connolly well enough to decide if his tone and demeanor shows disinterest or if his soft spoken and hesitant tone is in fact the way Connolly communicates.
What I do know is Connolly has struggled every step of the way since being released to play in this tournament by the Lightning. Quite possibly, Connolly can do no right at this point and he’s been made out to be the villain of Canada’s camp as media clings to his story.
Is Connolly himself a story with the way he’s handled himself in Calgary? Is he the victim of an unfortunate chain of events? Is he simply upset that he’s not currently playing in the National Hockey League?
Aaron Vickers is the managing editor of Future Considerations and can be found on Twitter. For all the latest Future Considerations news and posts, follow FC’s Official Twitter Feed, on YouTube and on Facebook!