Taking Liberties With… Tyson McLellan
Position: Forward, University of Denver (NCHC, NCAA Division I)
Hometown: San Jose
California Youth Team: San Jose Jr. Sharks
California Rubber: What are some of your favorite hockey memories in California?
Tyson McLellan: Going to Silver Sticks was always a big deal. It’s a huge tournament in the Detroit area. The guys got really excited about that. Our games against the Jr. Kings and the Selects were fun. There were good rivalries and good players on both sides who are still playing today. It was a time when California was becoming more of a hockey force.
CR: What’s your favorite memory since leaving California?
TM: Definitely when Denver won the NCAA Tournament my freshman year. That was the coolest experience I’ve ever had in hockey. To win something so big with such a good group of guys and coaches was amazing.
CR: Are you particular about any of your gear?
TM: Yeah, I’m pretty particular. I have some superstitions. My stick has to be taped after every period. The blade can’t touch the ground until I go on the ice. I put it upside down before every period so it won’t touch. There’s nothing else crazy. I try to wear skates as long as I can. When I get dressed, everything goes right to left. Right skate, left skate, right shin pad, left shin pad, everything.
CR: Since you mentioned sticks, tell us more about what you use.
TM: I’m a big fan of CCM sticks. I’ve tried a lot of brands and patterns. I found one of Nathan MacKinnon’s old sticks and just tried it. I liked that pattern and have stuck with it. I try to stick with what I like and ride with it.
CR: Did you have a favorite player growing up?
TM: Pavel Datsyuk. I wish I could say I could play like him growing up.
CR: Do you have a favorite meal when you visit California?
TM: Now that I’m going back to Manhattan Beach, I’ve got to find some restaurants. I definitely like sushi. We had a really good spot in San Jose, so I’ve got to find a new place.
CR: You had the advantage of growing up around NHL teams (Tyson’s father Todd is a longtime NHL coach). Are there any memories that stand out to you from that time?
TM: When I was younger, my dad was an assistant coach in Detroit. We went to Pittsburgh for Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final in 2008 when the Red Wings won. That was the biggest memory. It was really cool to see a team accomplish that up close. I got to see something not everyone does.
CR: Then it was on to San Jose.
TM: Yes, the Sharks hired my dad right after that. So I played with the Jr. Sharks from my last year of Pee Wee through Midgets.
CR: You’re one of the better players in NCAA hockey at winning faceoffs. What do you do to improve that skill?
TM: A lot of practice. Being around a lot of NHL players, I saw how hard they worked at it. Grabbing guys after practice, taking those extra 10-15 faceoffs every day goes a long way. I watch a lot of video, too. It evolves like anything else in the sport. You find new ways to get better.
CR: Do you have a favorite road trip?
TM: As a kid, it was fun just being able to go anywhere to a tournament and miss school. Now (NCHC rival) Miami of Ohio is probably the best place we go. That’s a fun atmosphere.
CR: What are some essentials for you for road trips?
TM: I definitely bring my computer for Netflix. I’m pretty easy-going as long as I have something to watch. I don’t have to bring too many things.
CR: The game has changed so much in the past 10-15 years. What do you see in the future?
TM: I think it’s going to get faster and faster. Smaller players are getting a lot more opportunities, which is cool to see. Maybe 20 years ago, some guys in the NHL now would have never gotten that opportunity.
Photo/Shannon Valerio/Denver Athletics
— Compiled by Chris Bayee
(Jan. 30, 2020)