Tymkin ‘Star’-struck at NHL camp

Joey Payeur

The closest Cole Tymkin ever came to seeing Tyler Seguin before last week was on “Hockey Night in Canada.”
So it was a surreal experience for the teenaged Tymkin, a Rainy River native, to be skating on the same ice surface at the same time as one of the NHL’s best players during his stint at the Dallas Stars’ main training camp in Frisco, Tex.
“It was definitely an eye-opener,” said the 18-year-old former SIJHL rookie-of-the-year with the Fort Frances Lakers, who began his second season at forward for the OHL’s London Knights over the weekend.
“It was cool seeing guys like Seguin, [Alexander] Radulov, [Jamie] Benn, and [Ben] Bishop and see how professional they are when it comes to their job,” he noted.
“It’s pretty crazy,” Tymkin added. “You see them on TV and grow up watching them playing in the NHL.
“It’s nuts.”
Tymkin was one of six non-roster players invited to the camp after catching the eye of the Stars’ coaching staff as part of Dallas’ team at the NHL Prospects Tournament earlier this month in Traverse City, Mich.
“The guys got off the plane when we got to Frisco from Traverse City and the boys that are going home get their [travelling] money at that point,” he explained.
“I didn’t get any money so I knew I had made it to the main camp,” he said.
“I didn’t even pack for main camp.”
Tymkin didn’t even play the first game in Michigan.
But he did enough in his other appearances to not only impress Stars’ staff members but representatives of other NHL teams, too–as his unsuspecting mother found out when St. Louis Blues’ assistant coach Daniel Tkaczuk wandered up to her.
“Rick had gone to grab a coffee and this guy comes up to sit down with me,” Michelle Tymkin recalled.
“He started saying he remembers Cole from before the OHL draft as he coached him at something he was at in Sudbury, but I couldn’t remember him ever being at anything in Sudbury,” she laughed.
“But I didn’t argue.
“He went on to tell me Cole does a lot of good things out there, finishes his checks and plays tough, etc.,” she recounted.
“And then he talked about kids from the north, etc. and then he told me a bit about his coaching, and we discussed how quickly things [move] forward.
“I asked him where he lives now as he said he was from Barrie. And he says, ‘Oh, I’m a coach with the St. Louis Blues.’
“What do I know?” she chuckled.
During the Stars’ camp, Tymkin was hungry to learn from the pros but understood the guidelines that accompanied that hunger.
“There was the six of us who were the invites and then the rest of the guys there that weren’t NHL guys were the team’s draft picks,” he noted.
“They were all working hard and we six really tried to not get in the pro guys’ way.”
But the feedback he got after the fact from the Dallas brass was encouraging to Tymkin.
“They said I had a good main camp and they were going to keep a close eye on me for the upcoming season in London,” he remarked.
“If Dallas ends up selecting me in the draft, that would be awesome, but I want to try and impress every team.”
Tymkin’s first games of his sophomore season in London were satisfactory in his mind, with still much room for improvement.
“The Stars camp helped a lot,” he conceded.
“I probably should have got a couple of more points, but I was playing on the top two lines and getting some power play time.”
Tymkin, meanwhile, isn’t too worried when other Knights’ players return in the upcoming days from other NHL camps.
“I still feel I will be a good part of this team even when the other guys get back,” he said.