Hockey is a business
Zakas said hockey is very different in Canada from what he was used to in this country, but he was well prepared. He had talked to a couple of players from the Rangers that moved on to play in Canada, and they had plenty of good things to say about it.
A lot of time is spent on the road and in hotels. When the Lumberjacks travel to Woodstock, New Brunswick, it’s an 8-hour trip that usually involves three nights on the road with games in Campbellton, Miramici and Woodstock before busing back home. No spot on the roster is guaranteed, and players can be traded or even sent home if they aren’t playing well.
“Hockey is a business here, and your job is never secure since you do not pay to play,” said Zakas. “You learn quickly that your job is expendable.
“Players wear visors instead of a cage and fighting is allowed. It’s not uncommon to see four or five fights in a single game,” he added. “The people live and breathe hockey here, and the players have a lot more skill than in the U.S. It is a much faster style of play.”
Zakas is grateful to McGuigan for helping him find a Canadian Junior A team. His offer came at a time when Zakas was doubtful he would ever get the chance to play in Canada; now he’s living his dream and is excited about the future.
He has always dreamed of playing in the NHL some day.
“I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon,” he said. “I want to keep working my way up the ranks as high as possible.”