Comets Tales: Markstrom is a Man with a Plan
by Don LaibleOct 13, 2014
Seen mainly with his mask on in The AUD, it’s going to be difficult to gauge Comets’ goalie Jacob Marksom’s emotions. One thing is for sure, it’s going to be interesting to see if this is the season that the 6’6″ Swede will finally break away from being the Next Big Thing, to The Big Thing.
All eyes were on Markstrom when the Comets opened their sophomore year in Toronto over the weekend. It’s now that time of the year where scouts, executives, coaches, and players all start to earn their keep. And for Markstrom, now seeing ice time in what is his fifth go-around for various periods of time in the AHL, everything is laid out on game day.
In Vancouver there is Ryan Miller starring as the lead man between the pipes for the Canucks. Miller’s three-year contract reminds Markstom of his organizational competition on the NHL level. In Utica, Joacim Eriksson, last season’s Comets horse that carried the team to within four points of post-season play, collected a 24-24-2 record. Both Markstrom and fellow countryman Eriksson are both looking to put in hours on Canucks ice, will also be following the activities of Miller’s current backup Eddie Lack (also a Swede).
Maintaining a myopic view of the situation at hand, and taking care of what he has control over, is what has Markstrom motivated. The competitive spirit demonstrated since training camp can make a case that Markstrom senses the gravity of the moment.
“Win games. Win lots of games,” says Markstrom. “We have to keep building on what we (Comets) started in camp.”
Which is a two-headed Swedish monster tandem defending the Comets net.
With Markstrom off to a 1-0-0-0 record, he understands what it will take to get to play his first game in Vancouver this season after getting to play in four contests last season.Markstrom points to hard work, determination, and enjoying successful nights in net as keys to getting back to the National Hockey League.
The ultimate goal for any player is to play in the world’s best hockey league, the NHL. After being sent to Utica early on in the Canucks Training Camp, Markstrom had a clear thought on the reassignment. “I have to have the mindset that I’m going to be in Vancouver. As a player, I could be sad or embrace the challenge. I’m looking forward to the competition.”
After logging 131 career AHL contests with Rochester and San Antonio (both Florida AHL affiliates during his stints), Utica promises to be a career stop that will be as comforting as any time in his past. Gavle (Sweden), Markstrom’s hometown, is situated by the Baltic Sea. With an average temperature of 23 degrees in January, weather conditions in the Mohawk Valley should feel a little like home to Markstrom. And with a population of 71,000, Gavle mimics Utica’s 62,000 – both housing rabid hockey fans.
After starting two out of the three Comets preseason games, and the Comets’ season opener in Toronto, Markstrom appears zoned in for the long season at hand. He’s a proven battler. When the Florida Panthers selected him with the first pick of the second round in the 2008 NHL entry draft, Markstrom called some of the best NHL veteran goaltenders co-workers. Those veterans included Tomas Vokoun, Jose Theodore and Tim Thomas. These would be the ones grooming him for his professional future.
As part of the blockbuster trade between Vancouver and Florida at the trade deadline last year, Markstrom was the center piece of the trade going back to the Canucks for long-time Canucks goalie, Roberto Luongo. Immediately Markstrom assumed back-up duties in Vancouver as Eddie Lack slid into the vacant starting role. A log jam at the goaltender position ensued after the off-season signing of Ryan Miller.
When asked how he is going to make his way back into the Canucks’ line-up, Markstrom has a clear, and concise plan while in Utica. “Win games. Win lots of games”.
Preparing to shut down the best the AHL has to offer has become all too routine for Markstrom. It’s not easy being Jacob Markstrom, but his track record shows he knows no other way.