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California Dreaming is music to the ears of Max McCue
2021-07-25
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In April of 2019, local hockey prospect Max McCue was thrilled to be selected by the London Knights, nabbed in the second round of the OHL entry draft, 34th overall.

Just over two years later, the swift-skating forward is even more thankful for his connection with the team.

On Saturday, the 6'1" 175 pound 18 year old became property of the San Jose Sharks, picked in the fifth round (156th overall) despite not playing a single game during the 2020-2021 season, and limited to just six points in 34 games in his rookie season with the Knights.

"The main thing for me was not just my play, but playing for the most touted organization in all of the CHL," stressed McCue. "Playing under Mark and Dale Hunter, having them talking to teams about me, that sort of thing behind the scenes was a big thing for me, without being able to play."

In a year that was among the more challenging that he has endured, McCue leaned heavily upon his hockey support system, both for motivation and advice.

"I talked with Mark Hunter a lot during the Covid year, even if it's just catching up or something," he said. "I talked with (assistant coach) Rick Steadman and (associate GM) Rob Simpson a lot too."

"They would send us video clips throughout the year. They put so much work in, at the rink at 7:00 a.m. and leaving at dinner time. All of the work they put in, that doesn't go unnoticed by the players - it's exceptional," added McCue.

"It sucks that a global pandemic hit in my draft year, but they were just keeping me level-headed, making sure I didn't get my hopes up too high. They would remind me that if you don't go this year, then just go out and have a good year and you'll go higher next year."

In the end, McCue would hear his name called with a few rounds to spare, at least partially prepared for the possibility that his hockey future might involve a little bit of "California Dreaming".

"I was getting a little nervous as it was getting into the later rounds, but once I heard my nam called, it was super exciting, a huge relief," said the teen whose younger brother Sam was selected by the Peterborough Petes in the OHL Entry Draft earlier this year.

"I had talked to a few teams before the draft, including San Jose. They were definitely a team that I was looking out for when they were on the clock."

There are not a lot of NHL markets that might be viewed as better destinations of choice than the home of the Sharks.

"I didn't really think much about the location as soon as I got picked," said McCue. "But after talking to my family and with some of my buddies texting me, it kind of sunk in. Being out in California will be really cool."

For that to happen, the young man who spent time in the Copper Cliff Minor Hockey, Sudbury Minor Hockey and Nickel City Hockey Associations knows that after enjoying draft weekend, the work will start in earnest again on Monday.

"Between now and camp, I just want to continue to work hard, in the gym and on the ice," said McCue. "I will continue focusing on the things that I can control, whether that's working on my weaknesses or getting even better on my strengths."

"I want to show San Jose that I am worthy of a contract."

One would think that is exactly the kind of thing that the Hunter brothers want to hear, after they've provided a seal of endorsement on a young prospect.

Northern Hockey Academy