It’s tough to trust people on April Fool’s Day.
Andrey Pedan really sold his story, but was he telling the truth?
Turns out he was.
The backstory of how the 22-year-old defenceman began playing hockey is based on a random series of events beginning with his grandmother being taken to the hospital in Moscow, Russia, where the Pedan family lived.
Andrey’s father went to see her and after visiting, he met the woman she shared the hospital room with, and her husband. He was none other than Valeri Vasiliev, a Russian defenceman for USSR and an eight-time Soviet all-star, who was captain of the national team, for which he played 13 years.
At the time, young Andrey was into soccer. He played outside with friends as much as possible, which his soccer-loving dad enjoyed. Visions of a professional soccer career danced through their heads, until Andrey’s father met Vasiliev.
“He said no, no, you put your son in hockey,” Andrey laughed. “I think I was signed up for soccer like the next week, but that was changed to hockey, which we didn’t know much about.
“I remember I went for my first practice and I didn’t have pants. My dad was like ‘ya, ya, it’s alright – wait, does everybody wear pants?’ It was so funny, we had no idea.”
At seven, Andrey – now with all the necessary equipment – began playing hockey and he was so far behind kids his age, the league bumped him down a level. The upside of this was getting to play alongside his brother, who was a year younger. The downside was trying to showoff his mad skills when he didn’t have any.
“I was bad. I remember trying to lift the puck a few times to shoot, like I’m showing my brother how to shoot, and I hit the coach right in the head. I had to do laps, it was crazy.”
Andrey used his size to his advantage and was the team’s top defenceman by the end of the season. From there, up, up and away, as they say. The OHL’s Guelph Storm came calling when he was 17-years-old and after a season there, the New York Islanders took him 63rd overall in the 2011 NHL Draft.
Today he’s with the Canucks, preparing to play his 10th NHL game, with a bright future ahead on Vancouver’s defence.
To think what would have become of one Andrey Pedan had his grandma not landed in the hospital…
“I guess I maybe would have played soccer, I don’t know. Maybe I’d be helping my mom with my three youngest brothers (nine, five and two-years-old); I’d be changing diapers and I don’t even know what else.
“I don’t even want to think about it, I can’t really do much but play hockey. I love it.”
All he needed was the pants.
What are some things people don’t know about you? I asked Pedan, as we began to chat.
“What don’t people know about me? I maybe look a little bit not smart, but I read books sometimes. I read in English and Russian. I enjoy reading about history and WWII. I actually read books!”
(laughter from both of us)
And you have an orange sports car back in Utica, right? Are you a car guy?
“I like a lot of cars, but I wouldn’t call myself a car guy…actually ya, I’m a car guy. I’m a big car guy.”
What about the selfie with Sidney Crosby you posted on Twitter a few years ago? You’re BFFs?”
“He was at a restaurant in New York I was at with my brother. I introduced myself, I was in the AHL at the time, and we talked and then took the photo. He came by our table when he left to talk more and leaving he said “I’ll see you next year.” I said: “I don’t think they’re going to send you down to the AHL!” It was funny.”
Pedan is a hilarious cat, one I’m excited to see develop with the Canucks. As his comfort level grows with the team, his personality will reveal itself more and more, leading to awesomeness both in person and through his social media.
“I’m just like a lot of the guys in this room. We’re just kids, but in bigger bodies.”
That’s it from Anaheim and with this being my final road game of the season, thank you for reading and supporting Fort Nucks. I enjoy filling this space with the personality of the Canucks and I’m glad it’s well received.
Have a great summer!