Photo: Denver Post
For any player, the spark to ignite one’s love for the game may come from anywhere. Grandparents, parents, friends, or more often than not, the sibling factor. A domino effect of sorts, when one child plays a sport and loves it, the rest will follow — that sentiment rings truer than a puck off the crossbar for the Shore family. With one son making strides between the NHL and AHL in Drew with the Florida Panthers organization, another burning up the AHL with Nick in the Los Angles Kings organization, then Quentin playing NCAA at the University of Denver and an Ottawa Senators draft pick, leaving youngest Baker with large skates to fill; the Shore family has producing hockey talent down to a science.
The desire to compete and get in the game came early, in a similar fashion to most fans of the game; seizing opportunities to play whenever they arose was a lifestyle in Denver. Drew Shore, being the oldest of the Shore brothers, was the first to pave the way for his brothers to follow behind him.
A 23-year-old forward in the Florida Panthers organization, Drew spent three years at the University of Denver before making the jump to the pros. Following his freshman year at Denver, Drew was drafted by the Panthers in the second round of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. But playing college hockey so close to home was not an experience he could have passed up.
“That was huge, it was a great experience for me, it was a lot of fun, just being able to play in front of my parents, family, grandparents and friends,” Drew said. “Coach had a big influence on me and I absolutely loved my time there. Playing in college with my brother Nick, that was probably my best hockey experience that the two of us have together.”
Now that he’s moved on to follow his dreams of playing professional hockey, Drew has had the chance to play in front of the fans in Florida. Over the past two seasons, he has racked up 67 NHL games, all with the Panthers, and has 20 points in that time. Although Florida might not be what most people think of as a traditional market, it has a great fan base.
“I think it’s pretty clear that the people in Florida like their team, if you put a good product on the ice they’ll come to the games. It was a tough year, anyone can see that, but the organization is moving in the right direction and we will hopefully surprise a few people,” Drew said. “Hopefully with an improved team and more wins, it will continue to make the hockey more exciting.”
The Florida Panthers are a young team that is continuing to develop. Drew Shore is one of those players that knows he also has to continue to improve his game. He wants to develop into a player that earns a permanent spot on the roster for the Panthers.
“I’m trying to develop into an elite two-way centerman, I think the game well and that enables me to be offensively and defensively responsible at the same time,” Drew said.
The next in the line of the Shore family is Nick Shore, a forward in the Kings system. He spent last season as a rookie playing in the AHL with the Manchester Monarchs. Like his older brother Drew, Nick also left college after two seasons. It was a decision he said Drew helped him with a lot. Even still, the transition is not always seamless.
“I think the most difficult transition coming from college is the lifestyle is a lot different,” Nick said. “You’re not going to class or anything like that. You have a lot more time on your hands which helps because you need that to recover from playing more games.”
During his first season, Nick also suffered an injury to his wrist that kept him out of the lineup. Although it can be hard to come back from an injury, Nick seemed to come back with something to prove. The Monarchs went through a stretch of a lot of injuries and call-ups to LA. After his injury, Nick Shore became one of the players to make the biggest impact going forward.
“That was a little disappointing to be out 9 or 10 games there,” Nick said of his time away from the ice. “We had a transition on the team throughout the year as guys went up (to LA). So your role is going to change and I knew my role would change. You have to take the opportunities and make the most of them.
Overall, Nick Shore has nothing but good things to say about his first season in Manchester. There is something to be said about being part of the LA Kings organization, especially now that they have won the Stanley Cup two out of the last three seasons. That kind of winning culture is sure to trickle down and have an impact on younger players hoping to crack the NHL.
“It’s been great. It’s been a great coaching staff and a great group of guys in the room in Manchester,” Nick said. “Everyone really buys in and we get a lot of help from the entire organization. Anywhere you look, you have someone there to help you out, it’s been great.”
Drew and Nick Shore also took the time to answer some questions about growing up being part of a family of four brothers and how it helped them get to where they are today.
The Pink Puck: What’s your best memory of playing the game from your childhood?
Drew Shore: We were always competitive, we had a bunch of young kids that lived in our neighborhood, so we always played street hockey growing up. We probably spent countless hours every weekend doing that with roller blades on.
Nick Shore: Growing up having three brothers that all skated was great. We’re all over the place now but any time we’re back in the summers, it’s always really fun to skate with all of them. I had the opportunity to play with Drew and with Quentin at school so that was really cool.
TPP: How did having brothers with similar ambitions help develop your game?
DS: It was awesome, growing up in a family of four boys, everyone always had someone to play the game with, we obviously all loved hockey. It was easy to find a brother to go to the rink with or shoot pucks in the backyard and have fun while doing it. That made it a lot easier.
NS: It helped a lot to have brothers with my same ambitions. Obviously my older brother was the first one to play and he sort of got me into the game. So I was able to learn a lot from him. He’s helped me more than anyone. It’s the same thing with my two younger brothers so we’re all able to push each other.
TPP: How did your family as a whole help you get to where you are today?
DS: Our parents were huge in getting us where we are today. With four boys who all played hockey it was very competitive, especially at the youth level now, so they had to run us to countless rinks at 5 in the morning, take us to a bunch of places and tournaments in places that aren’t exactly vacation destinations. We’ve played all over the world, including Europe and places like that, they were great. I don’t think any of my brothers or myself would be where we are today without their support and help.
NS: Our family has just been great from the beginning. From a young age we’ve all been really into hockey and loved the game. From that it’s grown since we were little kids and we’re all hoping to keep going.
TPP: How would you describe each other’s style of play?
DS: I think Nick is someone who sees the game very well, he’s an elite passer, he’s someone who, if I was a winger, I would love to play with. He has a vision and hockey sense that just keeps growing.
NS: I try to watch Drew as much as I can, he’s a really good player and I look up to him a lot. I think he does a lot of really good things on the ice. I try to take some of things I think he does best and put them in my own game.
TPP: How would you describe your younger brother Quentin’s style of play?
DS: He’s developed a lot this year, he had a good year, with a lot of accomplishments — he made the World Junior team, it was well deserved. As he continues to get stronger and fills out his frame, he has a lot of potential. The main thing, he’s a really hard worker and loves the game. I have no doubt that he will be just as successful as us.
NS: I think Quentin is a little more similar to how I play compared to Drew. He just finished up his sophomore year at Denver and we’re looking for good things to come. Denver is doing great things right now.”
TPP: What’s the best piece of advice your brother has given you?
DS: We lean on each other a lot, we talk pretty much daily, all three of us actually, I tend to spend the most time talking to Nick, because we are in a similar situation. We just tell each other to stick with it, there’s a lot of things in this game, especially being young guys that are out of our control, I’ve really tried to focus on getting better everyday. I think if I take that approach, in the long run, we will be successful. We tend to reiterate that to each other and sometimes it’s easier than others, but we’re there for each other and it’s always good.
NS: I think from a young age we’ve all just liked the game so much and always had fun with it. I don’t know if any of us expected when we started that it would take us to where we are today. So we all tell each other just to remember to have fun with it and work hard every day. You just always have to do your best.
TPP: If your brother wasn’t playing hockey, what do you think he would be doing?
DS: Nick would like to think he’d be a professional in some other sport, but I don’t know what he would be doing. I think he would be trying to play some other sport.
NS: That’s a hard one because we’ve all been playing since we can remember. But he had the opportunity to go to school and work on a degree so I’m sure it would have to be something with that.
The Shore brothers are definitely a family to watch going forward. This coming season, Drew Shore will hope to make his role on the Florida Panthers a permanent one. He is on the last year of his entry level contract and is fresh off an appearance in the World Championship for the US this offseason. Nick Shore will likely be in Manchester for his second season with the Kings roster seeming to be mostly locked up. Quentin Shore will be returning to the University of Denver for his junior season, coming off an impressive run during his sophomore season. The youngest Shore, Baker, is not yet old enough to be starting school. But, one would have to assume, when it comes time, he will follow the family footsteps and also go to Denver.