Matt Bradley was on his way to the beach, his WHL season long over, when he got a phone call he wasn’t expecting.
He had been traded to the Regina Pats.
Bradley spent his entire junior hockey career with the Medicine Hat Tigers and all of a sudden, months away from even the start of the preseason, he found out he would be playing the last season of his WHL career somewhere else.
It was hard news to swallow.
“I developed a lot of good friendships there and my billet family was a second family for me so it’s definitely really tough leaving but coming to the Regina Pats was exciting at the same time,” Bradley said in an interview before practice on Tuesday.
It was exciting because, in his final season, he knew he’d be playing in the Memorial Cup.
The Regina Pats had won the right to host the national junior hockey championship and Bradley was now a part of a team that was guaranteed a shot at it.
Bradley didn’t get to Regina until training camp began in the fall, but he felt included in the team right away.
“I talked with all the coaches, talked with a lot of the players too. They all contacted me and welcomed me and told me how exciting this coming season was going to be,” Bradley said. “It was awesome to talk to everyone before I came here.”
Once Bradley arrived, he was thrust into a leadership role, something that meant a lot to him and one he embraced.
It was also something he had to get used to as the spotlight shone brightly on the Pats all season as the hosts of the Memorial Cup.
“It’s been a journey, a lot of adversity,” Bradley said of the 2017-18 regular season. “I just tried to use my wisdom of five years being in this league and help out other guys and learn from guys like Sammy (Steel), Josh (Mahura), Cam (Hebig), they all bring different things and I’ve learned lots this year.”
It has been a year of growth for Bradley, who put up 79 points for the Pats this season including 37 goals and 42 assists — a career best.
He was originally drafted by the Montreal Canadiens in 2015 but didn’t sign a deal with them. He attended training camp with the Minnesota Wild and is working to prove he’s ready to make the leap from juniors to the pros.
“I’ve learned lots. (Head coach) John (Paddock) and Struchy (assistant coach Dave Struch) ̶̵ it’s great to have new coaches,” Bradley said. “I kind of had the same coaches for four years there so to have some fresh ideas, fresh tools.”
“It’s been personally a good year for me,” Bradley continued. “Just look to keep doing it and keep adding to team success in the playoffs here. The better the team looks the better I look.”