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It didn’t take long for Brandon Hynes to make a good impression on the Acadie-Bathurst Titan.
Just three months after being acquired in a draft day trade with the Victoriaville Tigres, and just days before his regular season debut with his new team, the Titan named the 20-year-old forward their captain heading into the 2012-2013 season.
“It is about enthusiasm. He can make people accountable because he is not afraid to say what he sees,” said Titan head coach Eric Dubois, as to why Hynes was chosen to wear the ‘C’. “It is about the overall package. He works hard, he’s intense, and he’s not afraid to say what he thinks, so I think it will be a lot easier for him to make people accountable.”
Dubois said Hynes isn’t the type of player who just tries to blend in with the team.
“The first thing you notice about him is that, well, you notice him,” said the coach. “He brings a lot of energy. He’s very vocal and brings a lot of enthusiasm, a lot of intensity to the team both off ice and on ice. Of course, on ice he’s a scoring threat every time he’s got the puck in the offensive zone, that’s one thing we need from him…and first and foremost we got him because he was a scoring threat.”
Drafted by Victoriaville in the first round, third overall, of the 2008 Quebec Major Junior Hockey League entry draft, Hynes scored 257 points, including 135 goals, in 255 games spread over four seasons with the Tigres – including a career best 42 goals and 44 assists in 61 games last season.
Then last spring, the Tigres told him he might be traded.
“It is the first time I’ve ever been moved. I spent four years in Victoriaville and at the draft it happened,” he said. “It was kind of expected. I was pretty close with (management) in Victoriaville, we kept honest with each other, and they called me to let me know I was probably going to get traded so to give them some teams. I gave a list of teams and Bathurst was one of the teams. (They) said they couldn’t promise…but they’d do their best.”
And on June 9, Hynes was shipped to Acadie-Bathurst for a trio of draft picks, including a pair of second rounders. The forward quickly found himself amongst old friends, including fellow Newfoundlander Zach O’Brien.
“Newfoundland is a big place, but the hockey world in Newfoundland is not so big,” he laughed. “I’ve known (O’Brien) my whole life. I know Biss (Matthew Bissonnette) too. It is (nice) to come in and know a couple of guys like that, guys that are going to be big leaders on the team. It helped with the transition for sure.”
Hynes said it is a little early to start making predictions about his new team, but admits he’s seen a lot of positives so far.
“We’ve come a long way since I’ve gotten here,” he said. “The way it’s been going in the room, the way the team chemistry is building, the way we’re practicing right now – we’re getting there.
“I mean it is a work in progress obviously. You’re not winning a championship in training camp, you’ve got to be ready to start when the playoffs start, but we are on the right track that’s for sure.”
Hynes said getting everyone on the same page early will be crucial to the team’s success.
“It just comes down to how bad you want it, how bad a team is determined and ready to buy in,” he said. “If everybody doesn’t buy in it is not going to work, but we’ve got a good group of guys…so if we can get us all to buy in to the same system we’ll see where it takes us, where we can run with it.
“We’ve definitely got a lot of speed; we’ve got a lot of firepower,” he continued. “We’ve got three lines that can put the puck in the net and that is easy to see. (Dubois) is trying to manage his players the way he thinks they fit best, and so far we are looking good in practice, but we’ve got to get our whole team iced and put it together in a game.”
As for his role with the team, Hynes said it starts with being a good role model for the younger players.
“I want to kind of be a mentor for the guys,” he said. “I know when I walked into the league there were 20-year-olds that I was pretty close with. I was pretty close with Alex Labonte in Victoriaville and Maxime Tanguay. They still come back to (Victoriaville) and I would talk to them. We would sit and go for dinner, stuff like that.
“Obviously some leadership and offensive impact,” he continued. “I’ve been offensive on every team I’ve ever played on and I can’t see it being any different here. I mean I’m paired up with O’Brien and Bissonnette right now, so our job is pretty clear - to create offence and be in the positive in scoring chances and see how many we can bury. That’s about it.”
Other than that, as a 20-year-old, he’d sure love to end his junior career on a high.
“Five years have gone pretty quick, it’s my fifth year and it feels like just yesterday I got here,” he concluded. “So I want to (help the young guys) so they can develop and become better players; but at the same time you’ve got to send a statement. You’ve got to draw a line somewhere. You’ve got one last kick at the can, so you’ve got to try…and make it happen.”
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