Ferraro has no shortage of career advisers
If you're Landon Ferraro, a forward with the Red Deer Rebels of the Western Hockey League and one of the top-rated players for the 2009 Entry Draft, it's not an easy question to answer.
There's his father, Ray Ferraro, who once scored 108 goals in a season in junior, and went on to score 408 goals in 18 NHL seasons with the Whalers, Islanders, Rangers, Kings, Thrashers and Blues.
Or, there's his stepmother, Cammi Granato, one of the greatest female hockey players in history, a two-time U.S. Olympic medalist and a member of the IIHF and U.S. Hockey halls of fame.
So who does he go to? Cammi, of course.
"He usually turns around and says something about his 108 goals and how far I am behind that," Landon told NHL.com of his father's response. "It's a good atmosphere. I get my dad who played 18 years in the NHL, and Cammi who has gone to two Olympics, won a gold and won a silver. It's a pretty cool atmosphere to be around."
Landon Ferraro is creating his own pretty cool atmosphere in Red Deer. He was No. 13 among North American skaters in NHL Central Scouting's midterm rankings and leads the Rebels with 27 goals and 43 points.
He won the fastest skater competition at the CHL-NHL Top Prospects Game in January, turning one lap around the GM Centre rink in Oshawa in 14.009 seconds. Ferraro also is well-regarded for his defensive play.
"He's very good defensively," Central Scouting's B.J. MacDonald told NHL.com. "He has very good defensive positioning; he's always on the right side of the puck. If there's a turnover he's in good position right away. And he comes back deep in his own zone to help. He's very strong defensively, as well as being an offensive threat."
Ferraro, who measures just 5-foot-11 and 169 pounds, said his speed and smarts are what have gotten him this far.
"I think I'm a really good skater and my hockey sense is what really makes me the player I am," he said.
It's both nature and nurture that has gotten Ferraro that hockey sense. He's his father's son, but he also grew up in NHL dressing rooms, where his friends were NHL All-Stars who inspired him to put in the work that it took to be a professional hockey player. "My dad's last year (in Atlanta, in 2001-02), a couple games I got to be a water boy, so I got to be in the room," said Ferraro. "I think that's when I really started to understand not just how hard they work, but these are guys from 28 to 40, they're working so hard but at the same time they're having so much fun. They're living the life they've worked to get to. That's opened my eyes to what I want to do some day."
He was firm, though, that those players just put him in the right frame of mind. He doesn't pattern his game after any player. Rather than be the next Sidney Crosby or Alexander Ovechkin, he wants to be the first Landon Ferraro.
"Every player is different and they do what they do in their own way," he said. "There's players that you watch and you want to try to do some of the things they do, but in the end you're not that player. You have to create your own name."
The name he's created is a strong one, but there are some that see his Landon and remember Ray, who played two seasons in the WHL, with the Brandon Wheat Kings and Portland Winter Hawks, in the early 1980s.
"I was in Portland and there was a guy that had one of my dad's jerseys on," said Landon. "He had bought a game-worn jersey off my dad and he had that on when I was coming through the tunnel so I got to sign one of my dad's old jerseys. But the best one was when I went to Brandon the last trip, there was an older couple that said they had season tickets ever since my dad was there and they got me to sign a stick in the same exact spot they had a picture of my dad signing the same stick. I thought that was pretty cool."
Growing up the son of an NHL player allowed Landon to have all sorts of cool moments growing up, like going into an NHL dressing room for the final time as a 10-year-old during one of Ray's last games, with the Blues in 2002 Stanley Cup playoffs. Ray Ferraro had been traded from Atlanta to St. Louis in March.
"The year I remember the best is his last year," he said. "I was a bit older, I understood what was going on. … As much as he was trying to enjoy his last year, I was trying to enjoy it, too, knowing it would be my last time in an NHL room -- as a spectator at least. Hopefully I can get back in."