If Liam O’Brien has to move to a new city after being drafted on Saturday, it won’t be the daunting challenge it is for some teenage hockey stars.
Growing up, the 15-year-old Halifax native moved around — a lot — and had no choice but to learn how to fit in to new surroundings while attending 11 different schools over the past 10 years.
His father, Shawn, works in the financial services industry and needed to relocate his family of six for career reasons.
“I’ve definitely been around,” said Liam O’Brien, listing his stops in Halifax, Dartmouth, Saint John, N.B., Montreal, Toronto and Wilcox, Sask.
“It was tough, but I just kind of got used to it. I seem to make friends quicker now and overall it’s helped me.”
It’s no surprise, then, that O’Brien — ranked seventh overall for the QMJHL draft in Drummondville, Que. — is one of those players who can fit in wherever you throw him in a hockey lineup.
He’s a solid two-way player who plays a physical game, but his work ethic is what rates at the top of the draft.
“His work ethic is just unbelievable,” said Central Scouting’s Patrick Charbonneau. “He’s working, working, working every shift and you can use him in any situation.”
The six-foot-one, 185-pound winger moved to Saskatchewan last year to play midget for the Notre Dame Hounds and scored 13 goals and 15 assists for 38 points in 41 games, including the game-winner in the Telus Cup final.
“Before I go to bed, I think, ‘Wow, I scored the game-winner,’” O’Brien said. “It’s something you’ll never forget.”
O’Brien, who is bilingual and played atom and bantam with the Halifax Hawks, is still considering NCAA as an option and could attend North Dakota if the team that drafts him doesn’t meet his approval.
Wherever he ends up, expect him to fit in — and don’t expect him to stop working.
“I just love hockey,” he said.
“I’ve been working hard since I was three years old and I’m in the gym every day. It’s my goal (to be a hockey player) and if you’re gonna achieve something, you might as well work hard at it.”
Nova Scotia’s No. 1
Liam O’Brien (ranked seventh) and fellow Halifax native Taylor Burke (ranked sixth) are battling to be the top Nova Scotian picked in Saturday’s QMJHL draft. Following is a list of past top Nova Scotian selections (overall pick in parentheses):
2009 — G Jordan Kennedy, Lewiston (27)
2008 — F Ben Duffy, P.E.I. (5)
2007 — F Steven Anthony, Saint John (10)
2006 — F Ashton Bernard, Rouyn-Noranda (29)
2005 — D Alex Grant, Saint John (1)
2004 — F James Sheppard, Cape Breton (1)
2003 — F Sidney Crosby, Rimouski (1)
2002 — F Jared Vokey, Cape Breton (12)
2001 — F Stephen Dixon, Cape Breton (6)
2000 — F Colin Nicholson, Cape Breton (20)
1999 — D Brent MacLellan, Rimouski (2)
1998 — D Andrew Carver, Hull (11)
1997 — F Trevor Ettinger, Cape Breton (14)
1996 — F Ryan Lauzon, Hull (27)
1995 — F Andrew Gilby, Halifax (18)