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MYERS TAKING STRIDES

Thursday, 06.26.2008 / 11:40 AM / Features
By Erin Pollina  - Sabres.com
Everything is bigger in Texas.

So at 6-foot-7, it should come as no surprise that Tyler Myers roots are in the Lone Star State.

The Houston native was the tallest ranked North American skater selected in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, and the most sizable pick by the Sabres since 2003- when Buffalo took 6-foot-6 Thomas Morrow in the fifth round (150th overall).

What is surprising about the blueliner, however, is the footwork he possesses and the strong strides that almost seem to defy his large frame.

“I find it to be one of my bigger strengths,” Myers said. “My dad was my first teacher and he always told me that as a bigger guy you have to be able to skate if you want to make it anywhere in hockey. That’s what I worked on.”

While NHL veterans with such size, such as Boston’s Zdeno Chara (6-foot-9) and Minnesota’s Derek Boogaard (6-foot-7), are associated with comparatively poor skating - a common theme for tall players - Myers appears to be the exception to the rule.

“That’s usually the case but I haven’t really had a problem with it,” the 18-year-old defenseman said. “There are times when I do lose that coordination so I want to make sure I keep working on the footwork, on and off the ice. As a bigger guy it’s going to be tough so I just have to keep working at it.”

To do so, he has continually taken power skating lessons to improve agility.

But if speed is what kept Myers’ playing the game of hockey, it is also what led him to it.

When his father took him to a Houston Aeros game at the age of 6 years old, Myers was immediately hooked on the quick pace of play.

“I think that’s one of the biggest things I noticed when I first watched it,” he said. “It was different from any other sport.”

While others would try to swing him toward a basketball court because of his stature, the tempo remained a factor to keep Myers on the ice.

Although the biggest jumpstart for his development in hockey may have been the 2,000-mile move from the southwest to Calgary, Alberta when Myers was 10 years old.

“I started playing in Texas and there were two teams and 3 million people. When I moved to Canada… there were 13 [teams] in one community,” he said. “It was definitely a big change for me. The passion for hockey when I moved was unbelievable and just great experience for me.

“If I were still in Texas I would probably be holding a basketball right now. I’m fortunate we made the move… It really helped me grow.”

As did his father, to whom Myers credits with much of his success.

“My dad is from Pennsylvania so he played a lot of hockey when he was younger. He actually played at Lehigh University as well,” Myers said. “He was the one who got me into it and I’m very happy he did.”

The Buffalo Sabres are as well. The team traded their 13th overall pick in the draft to Los Angeles, in favor of the 12th overall selection to ensure the defenseman would still be available.

The Texas native, who said he grew up a Dallas Stars fan, remembers draft day well.

“I look back at that as being a Stars fan and I definitely like to watch them,” Myers said. “I was watching them play Buffalo in the Stanley Cup Finals in 1999 and everything… But when Buffalo called my name on draft day I completely turned into a Sabres fan pretty quickly. It was no problem.

It’s an unbelievable feeling and to put on a Sabres jersey… I was just ecstatic about it. I am very happy to be here.”

WATCH TYLER MYERS TALK TO THE MEDIA ON WEDNESDAY

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