Beginning tomorrow, hockey fans will have a chance to play golf with NHL stars in the Ryan Johansen and Brendan Dillon Invitational golf tournament at Whistler. Nashville Predators’ defenceman Victor Bartley is one of many NHL players who will join them. We had a chance to sit down and talk about his career, his go to meal, and his mom’s hockey advice.
Being a product of Maple Ridge, you might expect Nashville Predators’ defenceman Victor Bartley to follow Canada’s NHL teams and have his ideas on which will contend for the Stanley Cup first. If you did, you’d be wrong.
“I couldn’t even tell you. I try to stay away from that stuff.” Bartley says, when asked. “We only play Vancouver, Montreal, those teams two or three times a year tops. We’re playing teams like Columbus and Dallas all the time so I’m more focused on those teams because those are the guys we see on a nightly basis.”
Fair enough, Vic, but you must have a Canadian team you’d pick as the favourite?
“I’m not going there.”
We’ve learned Bartley doesn’t mess around.
Long road to the NHL
Another place Bartley doesn’t mess around is with his off-season training program. Now 28 and entering his fourth season as an NHLer, Bartley takes nothing for granted.
“Anytime you tell yourself you’re there full time and you’re doing what you should do, I feel like that’s the point you stop evolving and getting better,” he says. This summer, Bartley says he’s focused on improving his quickness and speed for the upcoming season.
That rigorous off-season training program comes with a rigorous, healthy diet. His go to meal?
“Ground turkey with some vegetables and a bit of quinoa. It’s pretty plain.”
With Quinoa as a dietary staple, you can see the hipster Vancouverite running through Bartley’s veins. His love for hockey, however, was born in Ottawa, where he spent the first five years of his life.
“We skated before breakfast, after breakfast, after school – right until bedtime,” he says. “It’s so cold, what else can you do in Ontario?”
Once Bartley moved to Maple Ridge, he continued playing hockey tons, but without the outdoor rinks. Bartley finally made it into the Predators’ lineup at the age of 24 after toiling through the minors and even playing one year in the Swedish Elite league.
This year Bartley aims to be in the lineup every night and be “a contributing guy on the back end.”
“Our back end is so skilled, we’ve got some of the best defencemen in the league right now, so it’s pretty tough to crack that full time.”
Bartley explains that in junior and minor hockey, his role was always “offence offence offence,” and now he’s playing the role of a shut-down defenceman.
“The role they’ve got me playing is a little tougher, but I accept it. If that’s going to keep me in the NHL, why not do it?”
Playing in Nashville
While playing in the NHL has been a “dream come true,” Bartley’s also loving life in Nashville.
“The best thing about the fans there is if you lose a game or get blown out, they’re not all over you,” he explains. “They don’t bother you, saying, ‘You suck.’ It’s just like, ‘You guys’ll get them next time. Let me buy you a drink.’”
While Bartley still has a brother living in Maple Ridge, his parents now live and run a business in Malaysia.
“They watch every single game.” Bartley says. His mother, who is Taiwanese, still calls after each one. “She tries to Facetime me after most games – it’s kind of funny because she thinks within two minutes of the games being over I’m going to be on my cell phone. I’m still in my gear and everything and she thinks I’m going to answer.”
“My dad sits there and ever since I was 16 he’s said, ‘I can’t tell you how to play hockey anymore, it’s past my knowledge range,’ but my mom, love her, she still chimes in and tells me how to play. It’s pretty funny.”
If you’d like to participate in the golf tournament that runs from August 7-9, you can still sign up for a cost of $750. You can find more details here.