Rookie Manitoba Moose defenceman Hayden Shaw has as many years of experience in hockey as he has years on this planet.
As the son of a coach with 30 years of experience (including seven years at the NHL level), the Montana native has always been around the game — accelerating his maturity level well beyond his 24 years of age.
This combination of experience and opportunity is not lost on the son of Matt Shaw, who is quick to thank various teammates, coaches and friends along the way for helping to mold him into the leader he is today.
“Tucker [Poolman] and Stech [Troy Stecher] were so great, especially just being better guys off the ice,” Shaw said, reflecting on his mentors from his freshman season at the University of North Dakota, when the Fighting Hawks won the D1 National Championship.
“The list goes on of guys I would look up to on that team, but one (other) guy would be Drake Caggiula.”
Shaw spent a lot of time at college watching the older players, picking up on their habits.
“It’s different being a freshman coming in to those older guys, they can just turn their head away and not care [about you] if you’re a younger guy. But I think those guys opened their arms and brought our young guys in and it just made it that much easier to compete every day and learn the ropes.”
After becoming a leader at UND himself, being named as an assistant captain in 2018, the puck-moving defender found his place in the East Coast League as one of the youngest skaters on the Jacksonville Icemen, an affiliate of the Winnipeg Jets.
Shaw quickly developed a bond with his roommate Wacey Rabbit, a player 10 years his senior, and that is someone he still remains in contact with today in Manitoba. He further developed connections on the team as well, taking an interest in how diverse the backgrounds of different players were to get to the point they were at with the Icemen.
These experiences have helped Shaw already become a leader on the blueline in Manitoba, despite only being with the team since 2019, and the coaching staff has taken notice.
“He’s a great person off the ice,” Moose assistant coach Richard Bue said, talking about what Shaw brings to the table. “It sounds crazy but that’s a huge bonus if you’re a good person and easy to be around. And he brings leadership as well.
“He’s 24 years old, he’s not an old guy by any means, but especially on our team with a young defence, he’s one of the older guys. He can definitely lead the guys and the guys look up to him, so that’s huge on its own.”