Last week Sochi bound Anaheim Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler said goodbye to America in a way that seemed rightfully fitting for a 22-year-old NHL player, by dressing up in red, white and blue themed gear and prancing around the Ducks’ locker room as his alter-ego, Cam America. But where Fowler clearly has a great sense of humor about life, and not to mention great sense of self, he has equal parts talent and determination on the ice, two key factors apparent in his play this season for anyone that’s been watching.
As a writer on California time this morning’s Olympic debut for Team USA needed to be two things: an exciting game and a win; anything less would make the alarm that went off at 4:29 in the morning a little more pointless than great. Thankfully, the boys in stars and stripes did not disappoint as they slammed to a statement making 7-1 finish against Team Slovakia.
Cam America also made an impressive Olympic debut on USA’s blue line with a beauty of a scoring chance down the middle and a plus two rating.
As one of the youngest players on the team this year, Fowler’s presence on the blue line has been a few trial and error seasons in the making. However, it has not been something entirely unforeseen by those with the right set of eyes on Fowler’s potential in this league.
ESPN reporter Pierre LeBrun wrote recently on his conversation with a rival scout at the 2010 NHL Draft in regards to Fowler. Fowler had shown his skating ability in the OHL, but had some loose puck movement prior to the draft that caused him to drop to a 12th overall pick. The scout was flabbergasted he wasn’t chosen sooner and in the end quite disappointed that the Ducks picked up Fowler a few draft picks before his own team could.
After three consecutive season’s with the Ducks ending at minus ratings, Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau switched Fowler to skate on the defensive left this year with Ben Lovejoy on the right, and those lose puck movements that might once plagued him are virtually gone.
He is now one half of the defensive pairing that more often than not battles against the top lines of opposing teams. In addition to improved management on the blue line, Fowler goes to the defensive net and has on more than one occasion this year, during an inevitable goalie misstep, been the stick to keep the puck away from an opposing goal scored. Fowler is the saving grace if you are Jonas Hiller or Frederik Andersen.
So with those first Olympic game jitters behind him (I didn’t see any today, but then again it was 4:30 in the morning) it will be interesting to see where Fowler is able to take his game over the next week. If his play this season is any indication he will be indispensable as the stakes for gold raise. And in the words of that once disappointed NHL scout at the 2010 draft, “…this kid is a stud. An absolute stud.”
Stud, Fowler, Cam America — anyway you slice it, he is ready to make a name for himself on Olympic ice.