The Sedins asked him to train with them in June, and Kassian travelled back to Vancouver from his off-season home in Windsor, Ont., to see how two of the best players in the world do it.
“That came out of our wrap-up dinner last year,” Gillis explained. “I was talking to Henrik and he was telling me about what he thought of Zack's potential. Then Danny joined us. . . and they asked if it would be OK for them to invite Zack to train with them. It was better than OK; it was great. They both see tremendous potential in Zack and they want to do everything they can to help him. It's true leadership, unselfish and generous.”
“Both me and Danny just had a good feeling about him,” Henrik said. “He's been through some tough things in the past. But meeting him last year and seeing him and being around him, we started to like him as a guy and a player. I've never been traded, but talking to a lot of players who have been traded, it's tough. And in Zack's situation, where he gets traded for Cody, there's so much expectations and that's tough for him, too.”
The Sedins' commitment to their craft is famous. Even after their rise to world-class status several years ago, the Swedes still push one another each summer to get even better.
“I know in Sweden there are a lot of young players who work hard to get in the Elite League when they're 18 or 19, then they stop trying to get better and are happy where they are,” Henrik said. “I think that's a problem for a lot of young guys. The thing I'm most impressed with Zack is the way he wants to learn, wants to get better. He asks a lot of questions.”
“You hear things – how hard they work and what not and how dedicated they are away from the ice,” Kassian said. “To witness it first-hand, it was an eye-opener. You realize how hard they work to get that good on the ice. It's great for a young person like me to realize that early in my career.
“I changed my perspective about training. I got a new personal trainer back in my hometown of Windsor. I went to the Nike facility (near Portland) with a bunch of guys and I worked with Glen Carnegie. And when you put all those trainers together, their different strengths, it definitely helps.”
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