A look at the persona of the budding superstar Elias Pettersson, in his own words and those of the players he shares the ice with.
Elias Pettersson's on-ice personality glowed from the moment he stepped on the ice for his first pre-season game with the Vancouver Canucks.
He did not score in that mid-September game, but that did not matter. He did everything else. He dazzled with puck skills. He stood out as the best player on the ice.
And then there was the season opener, where he scored one of Vancouver's finest goals ever seen.
Two months later, the buzz when he collects the puck still picks up.
But off the ice, he's an athlete Vancouver is still getting to know.
There are plenty of sports personalities who have made their mark on Rain City over the years: the Sedins, Kesler, Naslund, Bertuzzi, Bure, Linden, Passaglia, Buono, Reeves, Sinclair and Nash to name but a few.
Pettersson will no doubt join that group one day.
And though he was in front of the cameras and reporters most days, where have been moments in which his steely glare has drawn attention, or where a dry joke has cracked his interlocutors, he mostly remains a quiet soul according to those who have come to know him best.
Brock Boeser, still a relatively fresh face in Vancouver himself, is Pettersson's roommate on the road. He also lives near the 20-year-old center and sees the young Swede often away from the rink.
"He's a quiet kid at first," Boeser said when quoting about the young Swede, who is just 17 months younger than the Minnesota native. "I think he's kind of like me, quiet at first until he gets to know people around him. Then he opens up. "
Being roommates means there's plenty of time to chat on the road.
"We'll talk about the game. We've talked about our families, what they do, his friends back home, "Boeser said. "He's a funny kid, got a dry sense of humor. He's always in a good mood. "
Nikolay Goldobin is another teammate who has made a connection and is proving to be a regular companion.
And while the Russian is three years old Pettersson's senior, that has not been a barrier.
The two dressed up as Minions at Halloween, for example.
"Both young guys, we like similar things," Goldobin said earlier this season about their quick off-ice connection, which in many ways mimics their on-ice chemistry.
And, Boeser noted, Pettersson also has the "Swedish guys."
Veteran teammates Alex Edler and Loui Eriksson, along with goalies Jacob Markstrom and Anders Nilsson all bring a touch of home.
Eriksson, who has known Pettersson's junior teammate Jonathan Dahlen for years, took the two young Swedes out for dinner on the eve of the training camp. Dahlen, who played with Pettersson in Timra, is now with the Canucks' American Hockey League affiliate in Utica.
Eriksson remembers his own transition to North American life 13 years ago with the Dallas Stars and figured he should extend to his new young teammates and welcoming hand with a familiar cultural bent.
Edler, now the second-eldest player on the squad at 32, thinks back to how the older players in the team helped him along when he was a rookie finding his way in the National Hockey League, and a dozen seasons ago.
It's only natural that he would look to do the same for Pettersson.
"He's a pretty quiet guy, like a lot of Swedes," Edler said. "You can tell that's very serious. He wants to get better. He caressed you. He wants to learn. He's a good guy. "
Underneath that quiet shell is a huge focus, said Edler.
"I think like everyone else … he likes to compete, to play in every situation. I think him, and maybe myself too, you might not see it on the outside, but it's there on the inside. "
In conversations with the media, Pettersson will sometimes pause, looking for the word he hopes will best suit his meaning.
That's something he does away from the rink, too.
"He asks me about English, sometimes he does not know words," Boeser said.
Team's other novice, Adam Gaudette, echoes the "quiet kid" observation.
But that does not mean he's lonely. Gaudette and Pettersson may be among the team's young players, but there are plenty of others within a year or two in age.
And that's helped Pettersson find moments to lift the lid and touch.
"Having a lot of young guys in the room makes it easier to connect," Gaudette said. "Once you get to know (Pettersson) he opens up a little. He's a funny kid. "
Boeser figured some of this quietness is about Pettersson feeling his place in the social hierarchy of a group he just joined.
"He's a super nice kid. I think it's just his personality, he's kind of a shy kid, "he said. "(But) also as a young guy, you look to see what the older guys are doing. You do not want to push any boundaries. "
Ben Brown, the team's director of media relations, noted that the high standard Pettersson sets for himself extends from the ice into the dressing room and out to the media and the general public.
"I think he sets a pretty high standard," he said. "He's thinking about what he wants to say before he's asked a question. For a (teenage rookie) to be aware of that, of the power of what his message is, puts him in a class all his own.
"He has a good sense of what others are going through and an ability to relate to that and he does not let that go to his head."
Brown said a conversation on the Canucks' official media team filmed early in the season with Pettersson's parents, Torbjörn and Irene, still stands out.
Irene said her son was "still the same as he (was) before all the fame and all the prizes last year."
Brown noted her pride in her son's even keel.
"I thought that was a pretty powerful thing," he said.
Q & A with Elias Pettersson
Elias Pettersson moved on his own when he was 15, moving from the small community of Ånge, in northern Sweden, to Timrå, and couple hours east by car on the coast of the Baltic Sea.
Ånge, where Pettersson first learned to skate and got plenty of ice time thanks to his dad driving the Zamboni at the local rink, did not have a junior team.
His first season in Vancouver has been a whirlwind. He made the team out of training camp, but the club has been on the road so much over the first two months of the season, he's only getting acquainted with Vancouver.
The travel, he was used to that from long bus rides in Sweden. The rest, much of it is new.
We sat down with the 20-year-old Swede to find out more about who he is off the ice.
What was the first thing you realized that you needed to figure out when you moved into your own place as a teenager?
A: The biggest one was to plan your dinners and what you were eating. Growing up, you could play video games or whatever and then your mother said, "Food is ready," then you'd go to practice. Now, you'd have to think about food before practicing.
Q: What's the first thing you learned to cook?
A: I think it was chicken in the oven with steamed rice.
Q: Do you have a favorite food now?
Q: Do you still play video games? Do you have a favorite?
A: Yes. Fortnite.
Q: You were living in a hotel during training camp. How about now?
A: I live in an apartment now, close to everything, close to teammates too.
Q: How does living in Vancouver compare to living in Sweden?
A: Biggest city I've lived in. I'm starting to learn the city more and more. I like living here, it's not getting too cold. That's good. I'm used to being super cool in the winter.
Q: After getting home from practice, what's the first thing you do?
A: Call home, friends and family. Say if I come home at 1 pm, it's 10 pm at home, so every time I get home, I try to talk to my parents and my friends, because they're probably going to bed.
Q: Every day?
A: Yes, every day.
Q: What do you talk about with your parents?
A: Who I have played with in practice. Who I could play with the next game. Otherwise, it's just nice to hear their voices. Talking to my parents, it's nice. About what's new to me, new for them. Keeping up to date.
Q: How do you spend your down time?
A: Mostly video games and sometimes I go shopping. Hang out with friends, do the things other (people) do guess. Having fun. Chilling.
Q: Who do you hang out with most?
A: Mostly Goldy. I live close to Brock too. And of course the Swedes.
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