Whitehorse Minor Hockey is excited about Dylan Cozens’ new contract with the Buffalo Sabres.
Cozens, who hails from Whitehorse, signed a seven-year contract extension worth $49.7 million on Feb. 7.
“I think it’s very exciting and well deserved,” said Stacey Carefoot, executive director of Whitehorse Minor Hockey. “Dylan has proven he can contribute at the highest level in the NHL and his new contract reflects that this is being recognized by the people who sign the paycheques, which is awesome.”
Cozens, 22, has played 171 NHL games, including 51 with the Buffalo Sabres this season. He has tallied 18 goals and 27 assists for a total of 45 points and 26 penalty minutes in 2022-23.
Carefoot said the news of the new contract agreement will ignite interest in hockey in the Yukon.
“Of course the dollar signs raise awareness for the adults, but our youth who have been watching and cheering for Dylan for a few years now are likely less phased by the most recent news of contracts and more excited to see him on the highlight reels on a regular basis,” she said.
“When week in and week out they see a familiar face on Sportsnet goals of the week, interest is for sure ignited and our young athletes feed off and try to emulate those abilities”
Carefoot said Cozens’ abilities have served to showcase Whitehorse and Yukon on an international stage and literally put the city and territory on the map when it comes to professional hockey.
“The ‘Workhorse from Whitehorse’ has done a lot to increase our exposure and our ability to get the attention of Outside providers who want to come in and work with our athletes,” she said.
“Will it increase the quality of hockey in Yukon? I’m not sure. However, it is important to note that we have always had a dedicated team of development coaches in Yukon, including those who coached Dylan in his younger years and the quality of hockey in Yukon has been incredible for a long time now.”
Jeff Frizzell, president of Whitehorse Minor Hockey, said signing one player for a large contract is not going to sway new people to sign up for the sport.
“I think most minor hockey parents get into it for the right reasons,” he said. “The chances of kids making the Western Hockey League or Division 1 NCAA are very low, and from there getting drafted into the NHL are even lower.”
The NHL is a dream for most kids, but only a few actually make it, Frizzell said.
“Hockey opens up a lot of options for kids, as they get older,” he said. “We have a great program here in Whitehorse with amazing coaches and volunteers. Hockey seems to be the heartbeat in the winter all over the Yukon.”
Contact Patrick Egwu at firstname.lastname@example.org