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The one about…overcoming adversity

Think Bambi.

Now think ice.

Now think Bambi on ice.

Now you know how Chris Tanev looked the first time he laced up tiny cheese graters at four-years-old and stepped off the visitor’s bench for his first ever hockey shift.

“That door right there,” pointed his dad, Mike, Thursday at the Victoria Village Arena. “That’s where it happened.”

The story in question practically defines Tanev, who has metaphorically fallen down or been knocked down too many times to count throughout his hockey career.

“When he first stepped on the ice at four-years-old, I think the pants were bigger than his body,” Mike explained. “He could skate because he was in a learn to skate program, so he was okay without the equipment, unfortunately when he got the equipment on, it was a little bit more difficult for him. So he stepped on to the ice and went straight down and when he hit the ice, he was crying. His mother opened up the gate at the player’s bench and she went and picked him up and I went up to her and said that if she ever did that again, I was never coming to watch him again.

“From that point on he got better and better and better and better, and fortunately we never had to do that again.”

Mike described himself as “tough, but fair,” and his son agreed. Both said this was a learning moment, although Tanev doesn’t really remember it. This was the first of many lessons about not giving up and doing it yourself that Mike taught his son and it’s tough to argue the 22-year-old would be manning Vancouver’s blueline were it not for his drive and ability to overcome the odds.

“If you’re trying to learn to ride a bike, you’re going to fall, and hockey is the exact same thing, so it’s trial by error,” said Mike. “If you can overcome adversity, and this is one thing that I’ve always said about Christopher, he had to overcome adversity from a very young age. So when he finally grew to play junior, then to college and in the AHL and now the NHL, he’s had to overcome many, many, many things in life and he’s handled them quite well and I think a lot of that stuff is second nature to him now.

“I’ll never forget that story.”