LAS VEGAS – Ottawa Senators goaltender Craig Anderson was one of those kids who grew up playing hockey in the Chicago area when it wasn’t incredibly popular. To see how popular youth hockey is there now, the Park Ridge native is impressed.
“Hockey in Chicago’s grown quite a bit, Triple-A, Double-A, the last 15-20 years it’s exploded,” said Anderson of Chicago, where the NHL Draft will be held this weekend. “I’ve been able to see it first-hand when I grew up and see what it is today. I still have lots of friends who are coaching. It’s one of those things that, since [Patrick] Kane and [Jonathan] Toews came in, it’s been the hotbed of hockey in the states.”
Anderson will continue to do his goalie school in the Chicago area; he said this summer he will do one in West Dundee but not at Johnny’s IceHouse. This week, however, Anderson is in Vegas as a nominee for the Masterton Trophy, given annually to the player who represents heart, perseverance and dedication.
It was a trying season for Anderson, who took several leaves of absence from the Senators this season as his wife, Nicholle, battled cancer. He came back to help the Senators reach the Eastern Conference final. Anderson said the great support he got from everyone, plus the right approached, was beneficial for him and his wife.
“It’s definitely been a year of ups and downs, being optimistic and staying positive has been the key,” Anderson said. “We’ve always looked forward and set our eye on the goal of being positive and always looking ahead.”
While the Senators’ playoff run ended in late May, the Andersons got great news around the same time: Nicholle announced on Twitter on May 27 that she was cancer free. Craig said Nicholle is doing well but “every day’s a little bit of a challenge.”
The two words we prayed to hear...CANCER FREE! https://t.co/WLqufST8Xe— Nicholle Anderson (@xonichollexo) May 27, 2017
“She’s still trying to get her strength back," he said. "She’ll have a good day and the next day will be a low-key day where she has to rest. But for the most part, things are getting back to normal,” Anderson said. “She goes, goes goes and then she needs the rest. She can’t go the way she used to but it’s starting to come back.”