Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Trouba's a wee one in a family of big folks

Relatives familiar with the athletic life

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On those occasions when the Trouba family gathers for a group photo -- at a summer barbecue, Thanksgiving or the Christmas holidays, perhaps -- there is still a spot for 18-year-old Jacob smack dab in the front row.

Now, know this: The Winnipeg Jets' first-round draft pick this past June is already a strapping lad at 6-2, 193 pounds. And his expansive shoulders and young face suggest he might yet experience a growth spurt or two.

But -- for now at least -- he still spends much of these get-togethers looking up at the other men in his family.

"My uncle is 7-1 and my dad and grampa are both 6-8," explained Trouba after Day 2 of the Jets Development Camp at the MTS Iceplex. "Everybody on both sides of my family played sports. My dad played college basketball at U of M (Michigan)-Dearborn and my uncle tried out for the Kansas City Chiefs. My mom played college softball, too.

"No one ever played hockey, though. I'm trying that out."

Trouba is doing more than 'trying that out.' He's excelled already, to the point where he was grabbed ninth overall in June by the Jets and has been recruited to play for Red Berenson at the University of Michigan this fall.

Some of the skills that endeared him to the Jets are on display at the camp this week -- he's a good skater, sound defensively and with a cannon shot -- but the other elements to his game don't show up until the scoreboard lights are flicked on and the coaches slip behind the bench.

Trouba has what hockey types call a 'nasty streak,' which means his competitiveness is off the charts. That much was evident during a YouTube clip that was shown on both TSN and the NHL Network during the draft -- of Trouba nailing an opponent while at a tournament in Sweden... WHEN HE WAS 11.

"Oh I don't know... it just kind of happened," Trouba said when recalling that hit. "I don't know who it was or anything. I was just playing. I was a little upset about the shift before and... well, that's what happened.

"I always play with an edge. I'm competitive. That's who I am as a player. I wouldn't say I live for that, but it's part of the game that I've embraced and I enjoy doing. It's definitely part of my game.

"That's how my whole family is. I guess that's part of the reputation I got."

As the youngest player on Team USA at the 2012 World Junior Hockey Championship, Trouba figures to continue to grow his game at Michigan and possibly make another appearance for the red, white and blue.

In the meantime, the Jets D-Camp offers him a chance to soak up as much as possible about what it takes to be a pro while getting used to this hockey-crazed city he hopes to call home one day.

"It's been cool so far," said Trouba. "Being around the rink, getting to meet the coaches and all that has been a neat experience. I'm looking forward to being part of the organization.

"It's back to a normal life now that the draft's over. I'm working out and trying to get better as a hockey player and all that stuff. It's nice to be back to my normal life and getting ready for school next year."

ed.tait@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @WFPEdTait

more jets coverage C3

PROSPECT WATCH

Jacob Trouba

Position: Defence

Born: Feb. 26, 1994, Rochester, Mich.

2011-12 team: United States National Team Development Program.

Drafted: 2012 (9th overall) by the Jets.

Notable: Won two gold medals at the World Under-18 Championship in 2011 and 2012... Played for the U.S. at the 2011 Under-17 World Hockey Challenge in Winnipeg... Youngest player on the American team at the 2012 World Junior Hockey Championship in Edmonton and Calgary. Finished with two assists in six games... Lists Nashville D-man Shea Weber as his favourite NHL player.

-- Tait

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 11, 2012 C1

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