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Aidan McDonough talks navigating the challenges of his first pro season with the Abbotsford Canucks
2 months ago
In the midst of the Abbotsford Canucks’ current season, Aidan McDonough stands out not for a meteoric rise, but for his steady and impactful contributions to the team.
The 24-year-old forward may not be leading the league in points, but his consistent play and resilience on the ice have made him a reliable force for the AHL Canucks. Drafted in the seventh round of the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, McDonough arrived in Abbotsford determined to prove himself on the professional stage. Hailing from Milton, Massachusetts, he brought a New England work ethic and a commitment to his craft that hasn’t gone unnoticed by his teammates and coaching staff. After finishing his final season at Northeastern University where he tallied 124 points in 124 games over 4 seasons, he joined the Vancouver Canucks late last season, where he appeared in 6 games, scoring a goal over his first stretch of NHL action.
With five points in 13 games this season, McDonough’s statistics may not grab headlines, but his presence on the ice tells a different story. His ability to adapt to different positions, whether on the wing or at centre, has provided valuable flexibility for the team. Abbotsford’s coaching staff has praised McDonough’s versatility and highlighted his understanding of the game, with his responsible two-way play and defensive contributions earning him respect among peers and coaches. He came in as a goal scorer and has noted that in order for him to become one at this level of hockey, he needs to improve the smaller areas of his game to afford himself those offensive opportunities.
“You have to create offence the hard way; go to the net strong, get your stick on the ice, get it off the cycle, beat your check. There’s a lot of things I’ve had to adjust to, but I’m almost re-learning how to play the game at a professional level, and that’s going to help me going forward,” Aidan said in a recent interview on Canucks Conversation.
Off the ice, McDonough continues to exemplify humility and a team-first mentality. Despite facing challenges and adjusting to the professional game, he remains focused on contributing to the collective success of the Abbotsford Canucks. McDonough’s dedication to his teammates and his commitment to improvement have become defining qualities of his young career. His ability to navigate challenges with poise and maintain a steady presence on the ice has become a crucial aspect of the Canucks’ game plan. Aidan has been working with Hall of Famers Henrik and Daniel Sedin for the first time this season, who have no doubt helped his development in Abbotsford. When asked about his experience with the staff, he had this to say:
“It’s been amazing. Last year in the spring, the staff in Vancouver did an unbelievable job giving me a crash course, but it’s hard to do so much when I’m only there for a certain amount of time. Now I’ve been able to do a lot more video, talk to the Sedins, and get more work after practice. They’ve been amazing to learn from and have communicated to me the things I can do better and things I’ve done well.”
In interviews, McDonough consistently deflects individual praise, emphasizing the collaborative effort required for success in professional hockey. His grounded perspective and team-first approach resonate with both his teammates and the community that has embraced him.
While the spotlight may not be fixated on McDonough’s every move, his journey is no less significant. The challenges faced and lessons learned during this season contribute to his growth as a player and as an integral part of the Abbotsford culture. As fans may remember, there was some worry among the organization that he might sign with another team after becoming a free agent following his final season captaining Northeastern University, but he laid those worries to rest after ultimately signing a 2-year entry-level contract with the Canucks in March of 2023.
As the season progresses, McDonough’s role in the team’s success is expected to evolve. Whether it’s contributing offensively, playing a shutdown defensive role, or providing leadership in the locker room, McDonough’s presence is felt. The Abbotsford faithful appreciate the dedication and hard work he brings to the ice every night.
In the broader context of sports narratives, Aidan McDonough’s story serves as a reminder that success is often measured in more than just statistics. His journey reflects the resilience required to navigate the challenges of a professional hockey season, and his impact extends beyond the scoresheet. As McDonough continues to steadily climb in his career, the Canucks and their fans eagerly anticipate his rise through the rankings and contributions he’ll bring to the organization.
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