As the most experienced Canuck, 36-year-old forward Mike Keane
took the responsibility of showing rookie right winger Jason King
the ropes. The two are usually among the last players off the ice
after practice, and as neighbors in Vancouver they often hang out
away from the rink. Having Keane as a mentor works well, because
power-play positioning and restaurant tips aren't the only things
the 22-year-old King needs help with. "Who's he?" King asked
recently after Keane brought up former seven-time All-Star
defenseman Brad Park. Says Keane, "I'm sure he knows the guys who
are in the league now, but he doesn't know all the Hall of Famers
King's poor sense of hockey history will be forgiven as long as
he keeps scoring. Through Sunday the 6-foot, 195-pound King led
Vancouver--and all NHL rookies--with 10 goals. (The 10-4-2-2
Canucks led the league with 57 goals.) "He has a very good shot,
and his feel and game sense are terrific," says coach Marc
Crawford. "You just watch and admire it."
Drawing admirers was once very hard for King. He grew up in
Corner Brook, Newfoundland, so far off the radar that he wasn't
drafted by a major junior team. He eventually made the Halifax
Mooseheads of the QMJHL as a 17-year-old walk-on and scored 111
goals over his last two seasons. Still, he wasn't selected in the
2001 NHL draft until the 212th pick, by the Canucks.
King was solid enough in the minors last season to earn an
eight-game stint with Vancouver. He didn't score, but Crawford
was impressed by the chemistry between King and 23-year-old twins
Daniel and Henrik Sedin. This season King has been a perfect
complement to the pass-happy brothers. That trio, which carried
the team when the top line of Todd Bertuzzi, Markus Naslund and
Brendan Morrison sputtered early, had combined for 36 points and
earned the nickname the Mattress Line--a King and two twins.
"Teams are starting to key on us a little more," says King. "But
when both [top] lines are scoring, we're tough to stop."