The hockey gene runs strong in the Blake family.
Jack Blake, son of Simcoe native and Hockey Hall of Famer Rob Blake, was announced as the first signing of the 2020-21 season for the Oakville Blades, a team in the Ontario Junior Hockey League.
The six-foot-1, 175-pound Blake spent the last two seasons going to school and playing for Shattuck St. Mary’s in Minnesota, a program with alums such as Sidney Crosby and Jonathan Toews. In 2019-20, Blake scored twice and added 16 assists for the school’s team.
Aside from summers at the family’s property outside Port Dover, Blake spent much of his childhood in Los Angeles where his father played and now serves as the general manager of the NHL’s LA Kings.
The younger Blake will see a familiar face in the Blades organization.
Oakville president, head coach and GM is Jamie Storr, a teammate of Rob’s from 1994-2000. Storr led the Blades to first place in the OJHL’s West Division last season before it was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Storr, a two-time World Junior gold medalist in 1994 and 95 – is looking forward to having Blake join the Blades blueline.
“Getting a player that we know really well is a huge advantage,” Storr said in a phone interview. “Just coming out of a great program at Shattuck, it just allows our team to add a valuable asset that normally we wouldn’t have the opportunity to entertain.”
The defenceman, who turned 19 on Sept. 25, played with the LA Junior Kings when Storr was assistant coach of the team.
“He really wants us to develop, he wants us to have tonnes of puck touches during practice,” Blake said in a phone interview.
The lefty’s development goal while he is with the Blades is to work on his offense. His father’s offensive game led him to putting up 777 points in 1,270 NHL contests for the Kings, Colorado Avalanche and San Jose Sharks.
“I’m a defenceman, so defence comes first, but with the way the game is headed a lot of defencemen are more active in the offensive zone, so that’s what I want to work on this year.”
Blake will follow in his father’s footsteps in the coming years. Recently, Jack committed to Bowling Green State University, where his father put up 104 points in 131 games from 1987-1990 before joining the Kings.
“For me I’ve always wanted to go there, to play where my dad played and wear the same jersey he wore,” said Blake. “I’ve always thought that would be a pretty cool thing to do.”
Blake said his dad is his go-to when it comes to hockey advice, but now he is able to offer his own advice to young kids just starting out in the sport.
“Hockey is a marathon, not a sprint,” he said. “There’s a lot of ups and downs, everyone has their own path and it’s never going to just be a straight line, you’ve got to work for it.”