Bright lights, big cities in store for Coburn

Things just keep getting bigger and bigger for Braydon Coburn.

The 20-year-old defenseman grew up in the town of Shaunavon, Sask. (population 2,100), and played midget hockey for a year in Wilcox, Sask. (population 350).

Then, he headed to Portland, Ore. (population 529,121), for a four-year stint with the Western Hockey League’s Winterhawks.

“It was kind of a culture shock (in Portland) because of the traffic, being around so many people you don’t know, living with a billet family and even being in a different country,” said Coburn, who was selected eighth overall by the Atlanta Thrashers in the 2003 National Hockey League Entry Draft.

During his time with the Winterhawks, Coburn claimed league honors as the 2002 Rookie of the Year and member of the WHL 2004 and 2005 Western Conference First All-Star Team.

He also helped Team Canada win gold at the 2005 World Junior Championship and silver in 2004.

His arrival in Chicago (population 2.9 million) with the Wolves last spring marked the first time he had ever lived on his own.

“One night around 12:30 a.m., I really wanted a Slurpee from the 7-Eleven across the street,” said Coburn, who lived in Schaumburg at the time. “My mom and grandma were really concerned about me living in a big city like Chicago and getting robbed or something like that. So, I figured I needed some protection. I was probably being a little paranoid.”

Good thing the Thrashers aren’t based in New York City.

Coburn, who skated in nine games for Atlanta earlier this year, has recorded two goals and three assists in 12 contests for the Wolves to begin his first professional season.