Columnists, Hockey, Sports

5-Minute Major: Trevor Zegras is no longer a golden child

Trevor Zegras has fallen from grace.

Annika Morris | Senior Graphic Artist

The star center on the Anaheim Ducks was the ninth overall draft pick in 2019, so the expectations were always high for him.

Zegras quickly proved his ability to produce at a high level in his season at Boston University. He was top-three in Division-I freshmen points with 36 points in 33 games played, making the All-Hockey East Rookie Team, and he was a Hockey East Third Team All Star.

He was good enough to sign an NHL entry-level contract with the Ducks after his single NCAA season, which ended his eligibility to continue playing for BU.

It was the right decision for him.

After 17 games with the AHL affiliate of the Ducks in San Diego, Zegras was called up to the NHL in February of 2021.

Zegras has dazzled fans since he rose to the highest level, netting insane goals, showing off fancy puck handling and developing a near-celebrity persona.

His most famous move has become the “Michigan,” otherwise known as a lacrosse goal, where he goes behind the net, picks up the puck with his stick and wraps the stick around the net to shove the puck into the corner over the shoulder of the goalie. The goalie can’t fully turn around to see what’s going on behind the net, allowing Zegras to find the back of the net. He did not invent the move, but he has helped popularize it in the NHL.

In his young career, he has already made three Michigans. The move has become a part of his brand. It’s not something a lot of other players even try, let alone score on.

A lot of other players aren’t as flashy, either.

Zegras, alongside now-Professional Women’s Hockey League forward and Canadian women’s hockey icon Sarah Nurse, starred on the cover of EA Sports’ NHL 23. The NHL was clearly trying to make him the new face of hockey, trying to market to a new fanbase as other sports also begin to get flashier.

Some people love the showmanship of Zegras, but hockey has never been an ego-driven sport, so there has been backlash, too. Hockey culture has traditionally been more down-to-earth and modest. Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers is the best player in the sport, and he has the personality of a cardboard box. That is what people have come to expect from the athletes.

Zegras has a personality. And people are realizing they don’t really like it.

There are plenty of players with personality. They’re humans. Boston Bruins goalie Jeremy Swayman has become the sweetheart of the team’s fan base for his friendliness and relationship with his goalie partner, Linus Ullmark. Carolina Hurricanes forward Seth Jarvis has been winning over fans with sarcastic quips to the media. Minnesota Wild goalie Marc-Andre Fleury has been a long-time fan favorite for the pranks he pulls on his teammates and thanking the crossbars on the net for their service.

Zegras has made himself out to be whiny.

No one likes whiners, especially in a sport that does not prioritize ego.

Last weekend, Zegras threw a tantrum in the penalty box in a game against the Seattle Kraken in Seattle, breaking the camera they have in front of the bench with the end of his stick. The disdain could be heard in the Kraken broadcasters’ voices.

Even more recently, a referee essentially checked Zegras during a play, something that can happen when everyone is skating at high speeds in the same confined space, whether or not the move was on purpose. Zegras did not handle it well. When he returned to the bench after his shift, he smashed his stick into the wall in front of him, shattering it.

Fans aren’t having it.

I’m not having it.

It’s been a frustrating season riddled with injury for Zegras. Having fits over parts of the game that have always been there is not the way to handle it.

He could be so good for growing the game if he just carried himself with a little more dignity. Skilled plays are fun to watch. People love the Michigan. His style of play and feats of hand-eye coordination make the game more exciting to people on the outside, because even if you don’t know hockey very well, you can understand why scoring a goal between your legs is so cool.

Zegras is only 23 — he just has some growing up to do. He earned the status of golden child, but he needs to figure out how to keep it.

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One Comment

  1. Barry Fitzpatrick

    Love Trevor. Hope he hears you because you nailed it. Still pulling for him every day.