When the Panama Canal was finished in 1914 it was never even a thought that one day it wouldn’t be big enough. Although everyone knew the laws of displacement quite well, no one could foresee that one day ships would be so big that, as the Canal neared the million ship mark, they would have to make it wider. And now there is word that a company out of China wants to make another bigger canal just up the road in Nicaragua. Is bigger always the answer?
Jamie Devane is one of those big ships that need more space. Forty years ago the average height of an NHL player was five foot eleven, now it is six foot one. It’s easy to dismiss that as not much of a gain but, in that time frame, in one segment of sport? It’s statistically incredible. On the Marlies recent flight out to Vancouver to face Abbotsford, Devane sat in the same row of three seats as I did. The guy in the popcorn seat endured five hours between us. I’m six foot four, and some days clock in at 230. Devane is listed as six foot five and 220. Our body styles are similar in that Devane looks like super hero and I look like a cartoon. The guy between us didn’t have a stats sheet on him but he was scheduled for an 18 hour flight to Japan after this five hour run and I think he was likely begging for it by the time we landed.
“Small guys have advantages to their game that I can work on but I wouldn’t trade size.” Devane grins as he recognizes that the lower center of gravity means a smaller player is going to have abilities that are going to be a tougher reach for him. Those super freighters sometimes take miles to turn around, speedboats turn at will. But as the old basketball saying goes, you can’t teach big.
It is easy to talk about size when it comes to Devane and without talking to him you would get the idea that this one attribute is going to move him up in the hockey world. Maybe. Maybe not.
“I love coming to the rink. I always have. You can always think you’d like a day or two off during the season but when I get about two weeks into the summer I want to get back to the rink. I miss it.” There is a lot to like about that statement and the least of it is the words themselves. They can be part of the patter in hockey talk, not so with Devane. The deep tone of his words are all in. Toes to nose he loves this game and his face tells you that when he speaks about any aspect of it form playing for pay to his younger brother who is going into his junior draft year out of the Toronto Jr. Red Wings.
“I want to get to more of his games. I think he has a good chance.” Devane himself was seen a good chance when Plymouth picked him up from the Vaughn Vipers and in his final year of four with the Whalers he was good for 45 points in 59 games.
Whenever the pub chat rolls around to the big guys someone always throws in that the ice surface should be bigger or they need to go to four on four all the time to create more space. Those comments ignore the fact that it isn’t the size of the guy in the game it’s the size of the game in the guy.
“It’s something they tell all big guys, it’s a struggle to get low, bend your knees find a lower center of gravity. You want to be big out there. I’ll keep working on it because I know it makes me better.” Devane might not be the ship that fits in the NHL canal right now but don’t underestimate his desire and passion for the game and his desire to break in full time. He will do what is necessary and I know this because anyone his size that can ride for five hours on an airplane with his knees jammed against the seat in front of him, knows a thing or two about making small changes that lead to success. Is bigger the answer? When it comes to desire and passion for the game; the answer is yes.