Grizzlies: Grizzly a spitting image of father
The Utah Grizzlies' Jordan Hart hears it all the time - that he's a spitting image of his father Gerry Hart. Besides looks, father and son don't have much in common.
Gerry was 5-foot-9, 175 pounds and shot left-handed. Jordan is 6-foot-2, 205 pounds and shoots right-handed.
"People always say it's scary how me and my dad look exactly like each other," Hart said. "He always says if he had my size and skating ability, he'd still be playing."
Another big difference between the two is that for 16 of his 24-year hockey career, Gerry played in the NHL - a level Hart aspires to play at one day.
For now, though, Hart is in Utah honing his skills in is first professional season.
Like his dad, Hart is a defenseman and he has added a different dimension to the Grizzlies this season.
"He takes pride, day in and day out, in his work ethic and his defense," Grizzlies coach Jason Christie said. "He doesn't try to do too much. That's one of his biggest strengths."
That's where Hart tries to emulate his dad. Gerry was a staunch defender who, despite his size, wasn't afraid to get physical.
"He was a stay-at-home defense guy," Hart said. "I'm very similar to him although I'm not as tough as he was. I try to follow what he's done."
Unfortunately, Hart has never seen his dad in action. He's only heard stories. Gerry retired from hockey before Jordan was born.
Now, Gerry is Hart's No. 1 fan. He flew out to Utah to see the Grizzlies play the Phoenix Roadrunners last week. The Grizzlies took two of three games over Phoenix.
Hart admires his father for giving him all the opportunities he didn't have, and that's a reason why Hart doesn't want to take the time he has playing hockey for granted.
"My dad was from a small mining town in Canada. He came from nothing," Hart said. "But he's given me every opportunity [to excel at hockey]. I realize that he has put me in a good place and mind-set."
Hart puts hockey in perspective but since he signed a contract with Bridgeport after an invitation to the New York Islanders rookie camp (both teams are affiliated with the Grizzlies), he has made hockey his No. 1 priority.
"There's definitely the need to be dedicated. It's the love of the game that keeps me going for 365 days a year. Hockey for me, it's my profession, my career. I just want to keep improving," Hart said. "Hockey doesn't last forever. I just want to try to get the most out of it as I can."
And if Hart's career is anything like his dad's, he has another 23 seasons to get it.
"Everywhere I go, people always say how great he was," Hart said. "I hope to achieve that someday."
Like father, like son
* Jordan Hart's father, Gerry, played in the NHL for 16 seasons.
* Hart is in his first professional hockey season.
* Hart is a defenseman like his father.