|by: Clayton Hansler
Name: Nick Cousins
Team: Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
Born: Belleville, Ontario
Stats: 2010-11: 68 games, 29 goals, 39 assists, 68 points
North American Ranking: 71
Watching someone work at something they are passionate about is unlike any other experience. A concert pianist in all their eagerness adds more to a score than any prerecorded compact disc ever could. The highest priced tables in the world's top restaurants are found in the kitchen to allow for the dinner party to view the chef indulging in their obsession.
If the Essar Centre, home of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, was a restaurant, the high-priced seat would be on the glass and Nick Cousins would be your chef.
"There's one thing Nick Cousins loves doing [more than] anything in his life, it's scoring goals," said Greyhounds coach Seamus Kotyk. "He scores, he celebrates."
Cousins, a native of Belleville, Ontario, loves scoring goals so much he decided to do so 29 times during the 2010-11 season. He then continued the trend when invited to join team Canada for the IIHF Under-18 tournament this past spring, a feat that impressed, but did not surprise, Greyhounds general manager Kyle Dubas.
"Nick Cousins career is exemplified there; walk-in fourth liner, works his way up to the top line, eight points in the tournament, one of the leading scorers on Canada," said Dubas, who also took the time to point out Cousins had not been invited to the Under-17 tournament nor had he played at all on the international stage.
Cousins' passion for scoring was evident from game one, literally. In his first game at the Ontario Hockey League level, Cousins netted the opening goal for the Greyhounds on his very first shot. Unhappy with the idea of finishing the game with only a single tally, Cousins played the hero in overtime, securing his second goal and third point of his fledgling OHL career.
"A start to your OHL career like that, that's incredible," expressed Kotyk. "I think that's what players dream about - scoring in your first game."
Heading into the upcoming NHL entry draft Cousins' only setback may be his size, the natural centre having weighed in at 170 pounds on a narrow 5-foot-11 frame. This perceived disadvantage, however, is one Greyhounds' management is happy to dispel.
"He's getting bigger, he's starting to fill into his body, he'll continue to get faster and if you can find a guy with his hockey sense and skill you don't need to be going 100 miles per hour all the time. You can dissect a game, pick it apart and then capitalize - that's what he's done," said Dubas.
"For Nick, he's smart, he can read plays, he can read where people are going on the ice," contributed Kotyk regarding Cousins' hockey sense.
"Once Nick offensive[ly] gains that zone he can do one of two things; he can go with the puck towards the net or he kind of peels back. There's a few plays that were big for our team at different points where he drew people towards him and snuck this incredible back-door pass and our defenceman came in and put it in the empty net."
In an era that is not short on undersized goal scorers, such as Tampa Bay's Martin St. Louis or Philadelphia's Danny Briere, Cousins' stature likely will not hinder his progress through the professional ranks. His unquenchable obsession for goal scoring and proven ability to climb up the depth chart will serve him well as he progresses. And like that chef, he will continue to entertain fans as he indulges in his passion night after night.
With certainty, the Greyhounds GM states, "As an NHL player he's going to be able to work his way in anywhere in the lineup."