There may be some names you don’t recognize on the ice this week in London, ON, but you can bet there will be a few familiar surnames that catch your eye in the program.
Some of the players vying for the title at the 2008 World Under-17 Challenge are trying to follow in their fathers’ footsteps, fathers who shined on the international and NHL stages.
Take Landon Ferraro, for instance. The 16-year-old is a member of the WHL’s Red Deer Rebels. He is the son of Ray, who played 18 seasons in the NHL and represented Team Canada at three IIHF World Championships.
Ray, who scored 108 goals in one season of junior hockey with the Brandon Wheat Kings and sniped 408 goals in his NHL career, says nothing compares to watching your son play and enjoy the game.
“For me as a parent, there’s nothing I enjoy more than watching Landon and his brother Matt (a goaltender for Cowichan Valley of the BCHL) play,” says Ray. “That is what I have the most fun doing. We have built a terrific bond, father and son, and it’s brought closer by this game.
“We discuss each game, just like my dad and I used to do. I’ll throw a tidbit out and, whether it’s helpful or not, it helps to talk about it. That’s something that’s part of our routine.”
Landon isn’t the only player in this tournament who has a famous father.
There is also Ryan Bourque of Team USA, whose father is none other than Raymond, another NHL Hall of Famer who spent 20 seasons with the Boston Bruins and played in three Canada Cups for Canada (1981, 1984, 1987) and one Winter Olympics (1998).
Another interesting father-son tie is Bjorn and Uwe Krupp. Uwe, who is from Cologne, Germany, played 729 games in the NHL and will be coaching Team Germany at this event. His son Bjorn is a 6-foot-2 defenceman for Team USA.
Landon says growing up as the son of an NHLer was a major boost for his hockey aspirations. He got to spend a lot of time in NHL dressing rooms, learning from some of the game’s best players on what it takes to reach the NHL and international stages.
Of course, with his surname comes expectations. Many fans will compare what Landon does to what Ray did. Ray, for one, doesn’t think this is a problem for his son.
“He deals with things really maturely,” Ray says. “My biggest concern is that if people think or expect something that has nothing to do with Landon. We have the same last name, we play the same position, obviously we have a close bond, but the game is different. Nobody is going to score 100 goals any more. That’s just not going to happen.”
As Landon prepares for his first international event, he looks to his father for advice. Ray has told Landon that putting on the Team Canada jersey is unlike anything, that it’s truly a special honour.
Landon can’t wait.
“I get to see what a couple of other countries look like and see where I fit it on the world stage,” says Landon. “It’s a good opportunity to figure out where you are and what you have to work on to be able to play with the best players of your age.”