Originally published in the 6th 2010-11 edition of BLAZE.
For many hockey fans, allegiance to a team is cemented at birth. It would be expected that most people born in Vancouver, for example, would forever be tied to the fortunes of their beloved Canucks. Max Reinhart, however, isn’t most people.
A third-round draft choice of the Calgary Flames in 2010 – the Flames first pick in the draft – Reinhart’s allegiances were strained. Though born in Vancouver, his father is Paul Reinhart, who played 517 games with the Flames before concluding his career with the Canucks. The younger Reinhart says that while it was good to be drafted, becoming a Flame made it even better.
“It was a little extra special there just because (my dad) played for that exact organization,” says Reinhart. “I grew up kind of around the alumni, more around the Canucks though. I’ve seen a lot of their history, a lot of their games. It was special to be drafted, especially by an organization he was a part of.”
After a respectable showing in his WHL rookie year, earning 27 points, Reinhart made a sizable leap forward in his draft year, scoring 51 points and playing with Team Canada at the Under-18 World Championships. His performance this season has made that leap look miniscule; Reinhart matched last season’s point total in a mere 50 games, and he’s keeping company in the WHL scoring race with players years older than him. Not bad for someone barely removed from his 19th birthday.
“I think this year I’m allowed to be a little more offensive than in past years, when I was a younger guy and not looked at to score,” says Reinhart. “This year I’m being counted on to score more. We’re missing [Dustin] Sylvester and guys have to step up. I’m trying to do that as much as possible.”
Reinhart has also enjoyed some unique experiences this season. For four games, Max was joined in Kootenay’s line-up by his younger brother Sam, who filled in for injured players on a call-up. A first-round choice in last year’s bantam draft, Sam will join Max full-time in the WHL next year where the brothers will likely be pitted against another Reinhart, Griffin, who plays for the Edmonton Oil Kings.
While the current NHL season has hosted two outdoor games, likely considered a career highlight for those involved, the Western Hockey League also provided a pair of outdoor tilts. A month prior to the Calgary Hitmen playing the Regina Pats in McMahon Stadium, Reinhart’s squad received the opportunity to visit the Spokane Chiefs in the open air at Avista Stadium.
“It was very different,” reflects Reinhart. “It’s hard to get used to the ice, the play is a lot slower and the boards are different. The atmosphere was incredible. I don’t think anything will measure up to that. It’s just so different to play in a baseball stadium.”
Still too young to entertain notions of playing professional hockey, the next year will see Reinhart further developing his skills and biding his time before he can make the jump. In the event of any future Flames match-ups with the Canucks, Max Reinhart wants to be perfectly clear about his allegiances.
“I’m not really a Canucks fan anymore,” chuckles Reinhart. “I would definitely be cheering for the Flames.”