Photo: Keith Hershmiller
Connor Bedard is used to constant attention and scrutiny.
It’s life in a fishbowl for a 17-year-old hockey phenom called “the future of hockey,” in a Hockey News article.
Now, hockey fans across the five Western Hockey League’s five BC Division cities are ready to come out in droves to see what all the fuss is about.
Bedard and his Regina Pats make their only western road swing of the season over the next nine days.
The road trip begins Friday in Langley and concludes a week Friday in Prince George. In between, the Pats make stops in Victoria, Kelowna and Kamloops.
Tickets, as expected, are at a premium.
The games against the Vancouver Giants Friday, Victoria Royals Saturday and Kelowna Rockets next Tuesday are already sold out.
There are less than 70 seats left for the game in Kamloops next Wednesday while plenty of seats remain for next Friday’s game in Prince George, however those are expected to move quickly as game day approaches.
Special media scrums are being set up during many of these stops to accommodate the numerous media requests.
Is the hype real?
You bet it is.
Since coming into the league as a 15-year-old in 2020, and on a team struggling to be a playoff contender, Bedard has torn up the league.
He has 48 points in just 22 games this season and 176 points through 99 career games, including a 100 point season in 2021-2022 when the Pats missed the playoffs.
While this is the Pats lone trip out west, it may not be Bedard’s only visit.
Rumors continue to swirl around the possibility that he will be traded before Jan. 10 trade deadline. His talent level would look good on a team with Memorial Cup aspirations.
The 2023 Memorial Cup is being hosted by the Kamloops Blazers.
Bedard is the consensus first overall pick in next summer’s NHL draft and is expected to make the jump directly into the NHL.