HAMILTON— Nathan Staios was immersed in hockey culture from a young age. Spending his childhood years in Edmonton, Alberta, it was hard to not get caught up in the hysteria of an Edmonton Oilers franchise looking to recreate its glory days.
When Edmonton went on their Stanley Cup Final run in 2006, young Nathan was in person to witness the raucous amphitheatre. That is because Nathan’s Dad, Steve Staios, was a pivotal role on the Edmonton Oilers team that provided the team with a spark of energy every time he stepped out onto the ice.
From scoring a critical power-play goal in Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals to taking a penalty which led to the Fernando Pisani game-winning shorthanded goal in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final, Steve Staios’ firstborn revelled in the excitement.
“At an early age, I got to skate with my Dad on the big rink, which was very special,” recalls Staios with a big smile. “In Game 7 of the Final, I was having so much fun with friends that my parents and grandparents didn’t know where I was. Hopefully, I can make it there one day.”
Nathan Staios Following in his father’s Footsteps
Flash forward 13 years and the 17-year-old Staios is following in his Father’s footsteps, playing for the OHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs. Last Friday night at FirstOntario Centre against the Windsor Spitfires, the teenage defenceman glided across the ice. He wasn’t afraid to participate in battles along the boards.
No one could be more proud of his son’s accomplishments than the retired NHLer, who is now in his fourth year as general manager of the Bulldogs.
“We are very excited to have a player of Nathan’s calibre in our organization,” Staios said.
Nathan Staios Instilled with Grit and Tenacity from Young Age
Staios was four years old when he saw his Dad be a part of the Oilers’ fabled Stanley Cup run. According to Staios, it was the impetus that would give him the itch to lace up the skates and continue the family hockey legacy.
At 5-foot-9 and 168 pounds, many deemed Staios too small to play the game at a high level. The Oakville, Ontario was doubted and scrutinized during the early part of his hockey career, only generating 16 points with the Vaughan Kings Minor Midget C team.
The dubiousness surrounding his potential fuelled Staios to prove the doubters wrong. He would work on getting stronger in the gym. He also improved his skating, which he now considers one of the strengths of his game.
Similar to the physical style his father would display in the NHL, Staios plays with a fervent chip on his shoulder. This propelled him to being selected 17th overall by the Windsor Spitfires.
“Watching my Dad play, he wasn’t the most skilled, but he always was in battles, making big hits,” said Staios. “I make up for my size by out battling opposing players and working extra hard in the corners.”
Staios Eager for Stellar Season with Hamilton Bulldogs
Last Friday’s matchup against the Spitfires was a chance for Staios to compete against his former team. Where last season, the defenseman generated nine goals and 20 assists.
After losing in the first round of the OHL Playoffs last year, the Bulldogs were looking to add physicality and depth to their blue line.
Through four games played, Bulldogs coach Vince Laise has utilized Staios in a plethora of situations. Against Windsor, the defence prospect was on the ice combatting the top forwards of the Spitfires, most notably Jean-Luc Foudy.
Coupled with his presence on special teams, Staios is accelerating his development as a complete defenseman. His competitive spirit has allowed him to develop a solid two-way game, seeing the ice incredibly well and knowing the opportune moments to pass the puck.
From the Scouts
“Nathan plays with an edge for a smaller stature defenseman,” said Laise. “Once he learns to move the puck better, he will become even more of a force on the ice. We are happy to have him.”
As one scout put it, Staios “is a dynamic player who is on his way to becoming a top tier new-age defenseman.”
As the game transitions, blueliners need to possess tremendous skating skills. This means that teams are constantly looking for players like Staios.
It is the intangibles that make this young player special. Despite the 2-1 loss to Windsor, Staios never took his foot off the gas. He continues to bring pace and effort during his shifts.
For general manager Staios, he has fulfilled the pinnacle of any father’s dream. He is able to not only watch his son play hockey but also have him on his team.
The feelings of unequivocal elation at the Rexall Place watching his dad play will look to come full circle as the youthful Staios carries on the family lineage of NHL players.
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