By Romi Bean

(CBS4) — Since Joe Sakic acquired Josh Manson at the trade deadline, the defenseman has become a staple on the Colorado Avalanche. He’s been a key piece in the team’s quest for the Stanley Cup, playing in all 14 playoff games, and among other things, scoring the thrilling overtime winner in the Game 1 win over the St. Louis Blues in the second round.

(credit: CBS)

But Manson’s hockey story isn’t what you’d expect of a Canadian kid who grew up with an NHL dad.

“Obviously, I was around the rink a lot with my dad playing in the NHL for so long, but I never really understood the game,” Manson explained. “I was a normal Canadian kid — in skates when I was 3 years old — but I never felt like I took to the game. I never had a passion for it as a young kid growing up.”

In his teens, Manson wanted to quit hockey and focus on snowboarding.

“When I was snowboarding, I just got so caught up in it, and I told my mom, ‘Next year, I just want to snowboard. I don’t want to play hockey.'”

Josh’s mom, Lana, wasn’t about to let that happen.

“She said, ‘Absolutely not. You’ve got to stick it out for one more year, and if you hate it again, then, we’ll talk about it.'”

Well, it turned out mom was on to something by making Josh stick with hockey for one more season.

“That ended up being the year that I really enjoyed hockey,” Manson said. “I enjoyed my team, my coach and started to really understand why I was playing hockey, and it just really took off from there.”

(credit: via CBS)

In his second season in the BCHL, Manson made the most crucial move of his career, switching from forward to defenseman at the request of his coach. From there, everything fell into place.

“It was a turning point in my career,” Manson said. “In the BCHL, you’re trying to get a scholarship, and I went from hardly talking to any schools at all to, within the month, I had teams calling. And by the end of three months, I had a couple NHL teams call. It was the turning point. I’m very blessed that ended up happening in my life.”

Fast forward to 2022, Manson’s hockey life came full circle when he went head to head with his dad, Dave, in the Western Conference Final. While it was all business during games, it wasn’t lost on Josh just how special the moment was.

“Being able to look across the bench and see him and then to sit on my side of the bench and just sit back for a second and think, ‘Wow, this is really cool. He’s over there, and we’re competing against each other,'” Manson said. “He’s worked so hard as a coach, and I’ve worked so hard to get to the NHL. For us to meet in the conference finals like that, it was crazy.”

At the end of the game, the two met in the handshake line and shared a hug that they’ll never forget.

“It was special,” Manson said. “A little emotional. Just telling him I love him and giving him a hug, it was special.”

WASHINGTON, DC – MARCH 12: Dave Manson #4 of the Dallas Stars looks on before a NHL hockey game against the Washington Capitals at MCI Center on March 12, 2002 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)

Dave Manson once got close to hoisting a Stanley Cup when he played for the Dallas Stars in 2000. But his team came up short in six games. It’s a feeling that Josh remembers vividly.

“In Dallas, when they lost in Game 6 to New Jersey, I was at the game with my mom, and it was in double overtime. When they lost, that feeling of just how disappointed we were and how badly we wanted my dad to win, that’s my only memory of the Stanley Cup.”

DENVER, CO – JUNE 02: Colorado Avalanche defenseman Josh Manson (42) celebrates after scoring a second period goal during a Stanley Cup Playoffs Western Conference Finals game between the Edmonton Oilers and the Colorado Avalanche at Ball Arena in Denver, Colorado on June 2, 2022. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Now, as Josh looks to create a new Stanley Cup memory for himself and his family, he’s relishing the moment and reflecting on his journey.

“It’s almost like it hasn’t hit me,” Manson said. “This whole ride has just been so amazing. This team, this group, this organization, just the way everything has gone, it has been so amazing.”

As far as thinking about hoisting Lord Stanley, Manson has thought about it a time or two.

“I’ve thought about it every single day since I’ve been a hockey player,” Manson said. “Even before I was in the NHL, that’s the dream as a little kid. You want to lift the Stanley Cup over your head. I think about it every day, and now as I get closer, I think about it even more.”

Romi Bean