Saturday November 22, 2014

Jarret Stoll: The pride of a city


Former Yorkton resident and avid Terrier fan Devin Tide (right) poses for a photo with Jarret Stoll (left) and the Stanley Cup in Saskatoon after donating to the RUH Foundation.

 - Jarret Stoll spent much of his early career as a proud member of the Yorkton Terrier family. -

Jarret Stoll spent much of his early career as a proud member of the Yorkton Terrier family.

For the second time in his 10-plus NHL career, Yorkton and area native Jarret Stoll is a Stanley Cup champion after hoisting Lord Stanley’s Silver Grail at the end of the 2013-14 NHL playoffs as a member of the Los Angeles Kings.

However the path to the second title proved to be much more difficult than the first one he had won, also with the Kings, in the 2011-12 season. “We did it two totally different ways. Two years ago we were up 3-0 to start every series which was pretty remarkable and this year we had to scratch and claw and battle,” said Stoll, who had three goals and three assists in 26 games this postseason. “Being down 3-0 in the first round was obviously a lot to come back from and then we were down to the Anaheim Ducks 3-2 and came back.

“Then the Chicago series was probably the best series I’ve ever been a part of because of how exciting the hockey was.”

Stoll also felt that, while the entire Chicago series was amazing to play in, the series clinching Game Seven was even more intense. “Having to win Game Seven in their building was tough because it’s very, very tough to win in that building,” offered the former Sacred Heart Saint. “They are a great team and to beat them in their own building was quite an experience.”

But beat them they did, which set up a Stanley Cup final match-up with the Eastern Conference Champion New York Rangers, who the Kings disposed of in five games to win their second Stanley Cup in three seasons. “When we won it was like we knew what it felt like, it was like we were pros at it,” mentioned Stoll, who then touched on how he and his teammates had full confidence in themselves, even when faced with elimination. “When our backs were against the wall and we were pushed to the elimination games, that’s when we played our best.

“We knew we definitely had the team to do it, to pull it off. We have a great group of guys and we’ve got so much experience and so much depth on the team that we can just keep playing and keep playing and keep playing and we just kept going and kept going and found a way to win.”

One of those guys that played a big role in helping the team find a way to win is someone that Stoll feels is the best in the world at his position. “I definitely think we have the best goaltender in the world to keep us in hockey games and make those big saves when we need him to,” suggested Stoll of L.A. Kings netminder and Milford, Connecticut, native Jonathan Quick. “There’s been a lot of times in the playoffs when we were down 2-0 in a game and he made two or three huge saves to not make it 3-0 and that’s a very, very important part of the game right there. Then we come back and score and make it 2-1 and we’re back in the game.

“That’s just one example of what he does for our team. And all the overtime games, the double overtime games when he has to make a huge save and he does, that’s just what we’ve come to expect of him.”

But Quick isn’t the only teammate that Stoll believes deserves praise. Two other teammates, Drew Doughty and Anze Kopitar, are also high up on Stoll’s respect list. “Kopi (Anze Kopitar) can do it all. He can play on both sides of the puck, he’s probably our best defensive forward, our most skilled player, he’s a great set-up guy, he can shoot, he can skate and he’s gotten a lot better on his face-offs (53% regular season and playoffs),” mentioned Stoll of his fellow Kings forward, before praising 24-year-old blueliner Drew Doughty. “I think the thing with Dewey (Doughty) is that the bigger the game the better he plays. That’s been his scouting report or the type of player he is for a number of years now whether it’s playing in the Olympics in the Gold Medal Game or playing in the Stanley Cup final that’s just the type of player he is, the type of guy he is.

“We have Kopitar up front leading the way, we got Dewey on the backend leading the way and we’ve got Quicky between the pipes so it’s a pretty good three guys right there in all the positions to lead the way.”

Stoll also mentioned that they have many other guys, such as Justin Williams, Dustin Brown, Jeff Carter, etc. that also do nothing but improve the team.

As a matter of fact, Stoll believes that, with the personnel returning for the 2014-15 season, the Kings will have a great chance at doing something that has not been done in the NHL since the 1996-97 and 1997-98 seasons. Repeat as Stanley Cup champions. “We have everybody coming back and I think we can do it. We might have a couple guys, one or two that might not, but we have so many young guys coming up too that proved they can play at this level who can fill spots,” suggested Stoll, continuing, “I’m so excited just talking about it. It’s a very tough thing to do (repeating) and it hasn’t been done very often and we know how hard it is from last year and not being able to do it, but we’re looking forward to it and we’re looking forward to having a good, short summer so we can start going after it again next season.”

Hard work and leadership

Every parent wants their child to become a success in life.

Tim and Sherri Stoll are no different. So they instilled character traits in their children that, from an early age, were very noticeable. “He learnt at a young age what it takes, how much hard work it takes and what kind of a person you have to be to win (at life),” offered Tim Stoll on his son, Jarret. “He knew that the harder you worked the more luck you got and that the opportunities came with that.”

And Jarret Stoll certainly worked hard. Well before his NHL career began, a young teenage Jarret would be seen running the streets of Yorkton, working on his cardio and, when asked by his peers why he was running, he’d sometimes respond with “for the NHL”.

But his hard work didn’t start at the teenage years. Tim recalls a story about a piece of plywood he bought for his son and how it fell victim to Jarret’s untiring work ethic. “I remember one story about a sheet of plywood I bought him,” laughed Tim while recalling the memory. “It was a three-quarter inch sheet I got for him before I headed out to the farm.

“By the time I got home from the farm that night he just had it in splinters from practicing his shot. He just worked and worked and worked and that’s why he got to where he is today.”

But while Tim instilled a strong work ethic in his son, there was one thing that Jarret had at a young age that could not be taught.

Leadership. And Jarret Stoll, from day one of his hockey career, was a born leader. He captained the majority of his hockey teams throughout his youth years, up through to the junior ranks, both league as well as internationally.

However, as Tim is his father it was sometimes difficult for him to see just how big of a leader Jarret was.

But for others, such as Jason Gordon, Jarret’s leadership was one of the first things that made itself apparent, just through Jarret’s actions. “You could just tell he was a leader,” mentioned Gordon, who was the assistant coach to Tim Stoll on the 1997 Western Canadian Bantam champion Yorkton Terriers team. “His leadership abilities were obvious when I first met him and they are shown even to this day.”

An example of his leadership abilities that goes far beyond his own career are numerous. However two stand out examples come to mind and both occasions involve local hockey teams from this past season. “I had a group of 2000-born players at the Sask. Winter Games this year that won the gold medal,” said Gordon, continuing, “Right before our gold medal championship game he sent our boys a lot of inspirational words.

“What he did for our Parkland Valley gold medal team, sending the boys a message, talking to them before they went on to the ice, there’s no doubt that he’s responsible for helping us get the gold medal.”

But that’s not the only occasion where Jarret went above and beyond to help a local hockey team. Just this past spring, Jarret, in the midst of the 2013-14 NHL playoffs, went out of his way to fly to Vernon, BC., where the Yorkton Terriers were playing in, and eventually winning, the Royal Bank Cup, just to buy them breakfast and speak with the team.

That gesture shows an inordinate amount of leadership, however Stoll himself feels it was something that anyone would do if they could. “It was just something I could do to help out. I’m glad it worked out and I’m glad they got some good food out of it,” offered Stoll. “Maybe it helped give them a little edge but in the end I’m just proud of them that they were able to pull it off.”

Yet hockey is not the only area that Stoll has shown his leadership abilities. Just this past weekend Stoll took the Stanley Cup to Saskatoon to raise money for the Royal University Hospital (RUH) Foundation and the children’s hospital; where people were able to meet him and take photos with the Cup in exchange for a donation.

 - Stoll poses for a photo with the first (WHL) of two trophies he won as captain of the Kootenay Ice in the 2001-02 season. His Ice later won the Memorial Cup. -

Stoll poses for a photo with the first (WHL) of two trophies he won as captain of the Kootenay Ice in the 2001-02 season. His Ice later won the Memorial Cup.

However Tim Stoll and Jason Gordon aren’t the only ones to recognize Jarret’s leadership. Kootenay Ice head coach Ryan McGill, as well as Team Canada head coach Stan Butler also recognized Stoll’s leadership abilities, naming him the Kootenay Ice captain and Canadian National Junior team captain in 2002; a year that, no surprise, saw success for both teams as Stoll led the Ice to the WHL title and Memorial Cup championship, while captaining the Canadian team to a silver medal in the Czech Republic.

Long look at a career

Many people are aware that Jarret Stoll has had a successful NHL career so far, amassing 134 goals and 228 assists for 362 points in 719 career games over 10-plus seasons and a career in which he will continue this upcoming season as a two time Stanley Cup champion with the Los Angeles Kings.

What many are unaware of, however, is how much success Stoll had at both the minor and junior levels; years before the NHL came calling.

Jarret Stoll started playing hockey in Neudorf, SK, before he moved on to the larger hockey program in Melville, where he played for a few years before his family moved to Yorkton.

While in Yorkton, Stoll thrived and, in 1997, led the Yorkton Bantam Terriers to the Western Canadian Championship.

His performance throughout the 1996-97 bantam season caught the attention of many WHL scouts and, when the 1997 WHL Bantam Draft rolled around, Stoll was selected first overall by the Edmonton Ice (now Kootenay). Stoll also found himself playing on an international stage for the first time in his career in 1997 as a member of Team Saskatchewan at the 1997 World Under-17 Tournament.

Entering midget ‘AAA’ in the 1997-98 season it would be expected that Stoll would struggle offensively, simply because he’d be competing against much older and larger players.

That was not the case, however, as Stoll racked up 45 goals and 44 assists in 44 SMAAAHL games while playing for the Saskatoon Blazers. Stoll also played eight WHL games that season, scoring twice and adding three assists.

In addition to that, Stoll played on Team West at the 1998 World Under-17 Challenge.

In 1999, Jarret captained Team Saskatchewan at the 1999 Canada Winter Games; not the last time he’d be made captain of a hockey team.

1999 was also the year that Stoll played his first complete WHL season; a season that saw him score just 13 times in 57 games for the recently relocated Kootenay Ice (formerly Edmonton) but saw him improve his defensive game by leaps and bounds under head coach Ryan McGill, as noticed by his father Tim Stoll. “Once he got to the Kootenay Ice in the WHL all of a sudden they started holding him back a little bit. I was thinking as a parent ‘what the heck are you doing?’, but I think that if they hadn’t of done that, he wouldn’t be in the NHL today,” said Jarret’s father Tim, himself a former hockey player, making it to the SJHL ranks with the Melville Millionaires in 1977. “Jarret didn’t pout about it. He took it, understood it and that’s why he is in the NHL today. Because he can play defensively, he can penalty kill, he can win face-offs, which is what the coach back then taught him.

“Basically he (McGill) said to Jarret ‘you can go there, you can get there (NHL) but here are some little things that you’ve got to know how to do to make it.’”

Stoll also found himself on the international stage for the second time 1999 as he won gold at the Under-18 Four Nations Tournament in the Czech Republic.

Once Jarret took to the defensive side of the game, his offensive side flourished as well, resulting in a 37 goal and 38 assist campaign for Kootenay in the 1999-00 regular season before adding seven goals and nine assists in 20 playoff games to help the Ice win the WHL championship and advance to the Memorial Cup. He also participated in the CHL Top Prospects game.

His sudden offensive surge, combined with his improved defensive play, prompted scouts to give a very respectful report, saying, “Jarret is a hard-working team player with leadership qualities… excellent face-off man… good vision and great hockey sense… gritty and defensively solid… exhibits determination when going to the net” and resulting in Stoll being selected 46th overall by the Calgary Flames in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft.

The following season, 2000-01, Stoll had his most impressive WHL season totalling 40 goals and 66 assists for 106 points in 62 games en route to being named to the CHL’s First All-Star team. He was also a WHL Eastern Conference First All-Star. The stellar season also led to Stoll being named to the Canadian Junior Team for the first time; a team which he would travel with to Russia to win the bronze medal.

The following season, 2001-02, Stoll saw his point totals drop off, finishing the WHL regular season with 32 goals and 34 assists in just 47 games, as he was plagued by an injury

 - Jarret represented Canada several times during his youth and Junior career, winning a bronze medal at the 2001 World Juniors and a silver as captain in 2002. -

Jarret represented Canada several times during his youth and Junior career, winning a bronze medal at the 2001 World Juniors and a silver as captain in 2002.

In addition to missing WHL games due to injury, Stoll also missed some WHL action while captaining the Canadian Junior team to a silver medal at the 2002 World Junior Hockey Championship in the Czech Republic. An experience he feels is one of the best of his career. “To be named the captain of the Canadian Junior team was a special honour for sure,” offered Stoll. “I’m definitely proud of it because, on those types of teams, everybody is a leader.

“On that team alone there were 10-15 captains of their own Junior teams so to be singled out above everyone else, it really felt good.”

The 2001-02 season was also the last amateur/junior season of his career. But it was also the most successful team wise, as Jarret captained the Kootenay Ice to their first and only Memorial Cup championship in franchise history, finishing the season with a convincing 6-3 victory over the QMJHL’s Victoriaville Tigres.

Stoll was also re-drafted in 2002, 36th overall by the Edmonton Oilers, after he and the Flames could not come to terms on a contract agreement.

In 2002-03 Stoll started his professional career, playing for two AHL teams, the Hamilton Bulldogs (2002-03) and Edmonton Road Runners (2004-05) for one season each and two NHL teams, the Edmonton Oilers (2002-2008) and Los Angeles Kings (2008-current), making the Stanley Cup Final three times, once with Edmonton in 2005-06 where he lost to the Carolina Hurricanes and twice more with the Kings in 2011-12 and 2013-14, both championship seasons.

But with all of the success he has had so far in his career, all of the changes he has endured such as adapting to the big city lights of Los Angeles, one thing remains a constant: Jarret Stoll is still just a small town prairie boy at heart. “He’s never changed. He’s still the same guy he was before all of this,” offered Gordon, adding, “He’s definitely a role model for everyone.”



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