Jack Hughes has been the star of hockey games since he was in diapers. His unique style, natural skill and his ability to score goals on both ends helped him dominate at a young age. He’s now one of the stars for Boston College as an underclassmen with many scouts believing he could be selected early in this year’s NHL Draft by one of thirty teams.
Jack Hughes has been playing hockey since he was a little kid, and has finally made it to the NHL. He started off as an undrafted free agent, but after three years of hard work, he is now on his way to becoming one of the best players in the league.
When Jack Hughes came off the ice in the New Jersey Devils’ season opener, after dangling between three Chicago Blackhawks and scoring on his backhand for an incredible overtime victory, then throwing his stick into the crowd in joy, he went to a club official and asked one question:
“Will I get in trouble?” says the narrator.
Hughes, 20, spends his Sunday afternoons devoted to NFL Red Zone on his sofa. He’s fully aware of how the NFL’s taunting rule has sparked debate. Hockey is more reserved by nature than football, with players seldom displaying their personalities off the rink, much alone on it. Hughes has never seen an NHL player throwing his stick into the fans. He had no idea what drove him to do that. Playing in front of “a full barn again” with “an incredible audience” that was “buzzing all night” intoxicated him.
“The guys enjoyed it,” he says emphatically. What about the suits at the NHL headquarters on the other side of the Hudson?
“Like, you simply don’t know what the league thinks,” Hughes said. “I had no idea. ‘If I get fined a few grand, I’m not accepting this fine,’ I just thought. This has to be taken care of by the team.’”
His worries turned out to be unfounded. The league published a report on the center’s twig-throwing exploits on its website and shared the video on social media (several times). Hughes’ phone was flooded with messages from his old friend, Anaheim Ducks player Trevor Zegras, a month later.
Hughes recounted, “I received like 10 messages from him and he’s like, ‘Dude, awesome!’ laughing faces, all of stuff.” “I said, ‘What are you talking about?’ and he said, ‘Look at my objective.’”
The 20-year-old Zegras flung his stick into the Anaheim crowd after scoring an overtime victory against the Washington Capitals.
“I was thinking, ‘That’s awful,’” says the author. Hughes remarked. “We’ve been talking about it for a few weeks now. So I wouldn’t be shocked if another of my pals did it as well.”
Hughes’ narrative is often portrayed through the lens of his family, which has a long history in hockey. Ellen, a great player at the University of New Hampshire, was a member of the United States women’s squad in the 1992 World Cup. Jim, his father, was a standout player at Providence College before working in coaching and player development jobs in the NHL. Quinn, Jack’s elder brother, plays defense for the Vancouver Canucks, while Luke, Jack’s younger brother, was picked No. 4 overall by the Devils in July — a moment that went viral due to Jack’s overwhelming excitement.
(Hughes squirms when he watches the video, but defends himself: “It’s quite uncommon for something to happen. So many things have to fall into place “(
Growing up as the middle brother in a hockey-crazed household molded Jack, but it’s not the only thing that defines him. The Devils’ No. 1 center has a fiery personality that he’s now ready to unleash, ushering in a new era for the league.
Hughes said, “You can sort of tell the society is shifting.” “It’s no longer a game for the elderly. There are a lot of young kids that are confident when they come in.”
With Hughes, the hockey ceiling has always been enticing. “Super-talented, fluid, and with evident outstanding hands, vision, and playmaking ability. He’s someone who can pretty much do anything “Ty Smith, his roommate and teammate, agreed. “He might definitely be a contender for one of the league’s greatest players in the near future. He has the potential to score 100 points.”
It’s why, despite having just 119 NHL games under his belt, the Devils felt comfortable offering Hughes an eight-year, $64 million contract deal in November.
The potential is just as big off the ice. Hughes has been heralded as one of the new faces of hockey in the United States after he was picked first overall by the Devils in 2019. But now that he’s in his third season, Hughes is confident enough to go all-in. And, if he’s leaning in truly, he may become a transcendent figure by challenging the current quo. That means avoiding the standard hockey player interview, in which the pronoun “I” is avoided at all costs and actual thoughts are never spoken.
“Guys tend to want to be serious and short with reporters for some reason,” Hughes added. “And, you know, I’ve been guilty of it myself at times.” There are times after games when you don’t want to say too much or when you’re in a rut. I believe that as I get older, I am becoming more of myself. As if I’m a joyful person. The most of the day is spent with a grin on my face. I like spending time with my pals.
“I believe most people think I’m arrogant. I’d say I’m quite confident, but that’s simply because that’s who I’ve grown up to be: a confident, cheerful girl who loves life and enjoys what she does.”
Hughes had to go through a long procedure to get to this stage. He’d never imagined the benefits of being picked first overall. Hughes was taken away on a private jet — a “PJ” in hockey jargon — after celebrating with family and teammates in Vancouver, where the draft was place.
Hughes remarked, “I took my first ever PJ from Vancouver to New Jersey.” “That night, Adam Sandler and Reggie Jackson went to a Yankees game. So, sure, it’d been a bad weekend. It was a horrible situation.”
Hughes joined the Devils’ roster when he was 18 years old. Then came the start of his freshman season.
“I despised it,” he said.
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In 61 games, Hughes only has seven goals and 21 points.
Life sped up on him.
“For example, when I was in high school, I lived at home, drove a vehicle that my parents paid for, and I was fortunate if I had Chipotle once a week. ‘Hey, may I go to Chipotle with my friends?’ I’d have to ask my parents “He went on to explain. “The next year, you’re earning a million dollars while performing in front of live audiences. You certainly have a lot of buzz about you. It’s everything I’d hoped for, and I wouldn’t alter a thing; I only wish I’d played better. At the same time, I believe that going through that struggle has shaped me into the player that I am.”
Hughes, who stands 5 feet 11 inches tall, was still growing physically. In his second season, he gained 14 pounds of muscle (moving from 164 to 180 pounds). And, while increasing his productivity (from 0.34 to 0.55), he still felt like he was figuring out who he was as a player. Despite this, he never lost faith in himself. “I mean, I could play five games without scoring a point and still believe I’m the greatest,” he said.
Then came the epidemic, which Hughes claims helped him get back on his feet. When the NHL season was halted in 2020, he returned to his family’s home in Michigan.
“It enabled me to sit back and relax,” he added. “I thought about myself, my game, where I am, and where I want to go.” “That was a very excellent mental moment for me to decompress and simply stare in the mirror,” says the author.
Hughes’ current atmosphere is one of the reasons he feels free to show up and be himself. The Devils, who are constructing with commitment right now, are the NHL’s youngest club.
“Nico Hischier, our captain, is 23 years old,” Hughes added. “On the ice, we’re learning to put in the effort and really understand how to win. But off the ice, in the locker room — I wouldn’t say it’s a party in there, but it’s clearly a lot of fun.”
It also helps that the locker room’s senior statesman is P.K. Subban, 32, who is renowned for pushing the limits of what we expect from hockey players off the court.
“He’s tremendously competitive, and he’s had a fantastic career,” Hughes adds, “but he’s had other things on his plate outside of hockey.” “I’m sure it’s something us young men should consider. I get so engrossed in hockey at times. Hockey, hockey, hockey, hockey, hockey, hockey, hockey, hockey, hockey, hockey, hockey, hockey, hockey, hockey, hockey But we still have the rest of our lives ahead of us. So I believe it’s a good thing he’s active in other activities.”
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Hughes is a big fan of the NFL and NBA, and he’s getting into soccer as well. He studies the superstars and trend-setters in other sports.
He adds, “I admire Jack Grealish and his swag.” “Soccer, or football over there, was never a huge deal in my family when I was little, but I did watch the Euro Cup and he was rude, so I picked up on that. Then there’s LeBron. In my opinion, he’s the goat since I grew up adoring basketball.”
Hughes’ extracurricular activities are currently similar to those of an average 20-year-old. Hughes and Smith spend their leisure time riding their electric scooters throughout Jersey City and Hoboken, particularly the restaurant scene.
“You can’t even compare the bagels, and I won’t even eat the pizza back home [in Michigan] anymore,” Hughes says, making sure to point out that New Jersey also has “excellent delis.” They camp out on their sofa on Sundays to watch Red Zone and “sewer each other” (in their words) while monitoring their various fantasy leagues. It’s a never-ending back-and-forth.
Hughes has also “gone a long way” in the kitchen, according to Smith.
“In year one, it was a significant shortcoming of his,” Smith adds. “His speciality was presumably something along the lines of scrambled eggs. But this year he’s got steak and other options, and they’re not terrible. He isn’t very glamorous, but he gets the job done.”
On the ice, Hughes is also a force to be reckoned with. Hughes is returned after missing 17 games due to a shoulder injury that hampered the team’s early-season pace. It took a few games for him to get back into the lineup, but the center now has nine points in his past four games, including another game-winning goal in overtime.
Hughes’ self-assurance is understandably strong. He never wants to lose his sense of self as he develops as a hockey great. And it involves maintaining the element of surprise.
Hughes said when asked what he would do if he didn’t play hockey: “I’d go with surfing. That describes my personality when I’m not on the ice. Low-key, joyful, and simply relaxing I’d be content. That is all there is to it. Nothing out of the ordinary.”