Family ties run deep for Wolves’ Drury

Photo: Ross Dettman

📝 by Chris Kuc | AHL On The Beat

A key element in Jack Drury’s preparation before a Chicago Wolves home game is to secure enough tickets for family and friends.

Since joining the Wolves during the 2021-22 season and helping lead the team to the 2022 Calder Cup championship, Drury has relished the opportunity to play in front of his hometown fans.

“It’s a unique situation,” said Drury, who was born in New York before moving to the Chicago suburb of Wilmette when he was 7 years old. “I’ve certainly enjoyed the last year and a half here with my family and high school friends being able to come watch me play.”

Included in that group are siblings Lilly, Owen, Teddy and Ryan, and parents, Liz Berkery Drury and Ted Drury. Each member of the family is involved in sports, which makes sense since Liz and Ted were standout athletes.

At Harvard, Liz was a three-time All-American lacrosse player while Ted was Ivy League Hockey Player of the Year in 1993 and a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award, given to the top NCAA men’s hockey player in the nation. Both were inducted into the Harvard Sports Hall of Fame 2008.

“Me and all my siblings love sports but my parents wanted us to follow what we loved,” Jack Drury said. “Whether that was sports or something else they were going to support us. It so happened that it was sports for all of us and they supported that.”

The support from Ted comes with some valuable lessons gleaned from an eight-year NHL career during which he played for the Calgary Flames, Hartford Whalers, Ottawa Senators, Anaheim Mighty Ducks, New York Islanders and Columbus Blue Jackets from 1993-2000.

The patriarch of the Drury family also played in the AHL for Springfield, Albany and Lowell as well as for the Wolves, helping them reach the 2001 IHL Turner Cup Finals.

Along with being a supportive father, Ted has imparted wisdom as his son climbs the ranks toward an NHL career.

“The biggest thing is just being aware of what’s in your control and what’s not in your control,” Ted Drury said. “There are a lot of things when you’re a pro athlete that aren’t in your control and it’s about just letting those go and focusing on the things that are. Jack has got a good sense of who he is.”

Jack said the biggest lesson his father has taught him is “the mental side of the game. Dealing with adversity and the ups and down of a career can be a lot for anyone but I was very fortunate that he had gone through a lot of the same things that I was going to go through.”

Add in the fact that Jack’s uncle, Chris Drury, played 12 seasons in the NHL and is the current president and general manager of the New York Rangers, and Jack has a treasure trove of information available during family gatherings.

“The bonus is they’ve gone through it before so they can impart a lot of knowledge,” Jack said. “Chris and my dad played for a long time in different situations and both of them have been able to help me a lot dealing with certain situations and decisions. The only downside of it is you get some chirps from guys on other teams but I can live with that.”

Drury has six goals and 10 assists in 28 games with the Wolves this season and has been a steadying force at both ends of the ice.

“He’s a dream player to have,” Wolves coach Brock Sheahan said. “He’s a 200-foot player. His confidence with the puck is really high and he’s generating a ton. You can rely on him in all situations and he makes our team way, way better. I think he’s an NHL player all day.”

In fact, Drury spent most of November and December in the NHL with the Carolina Hurricanes, during which he had two assists and a plus-4 rating in 21 games.

Sheahan isn’t the only one who sees a future full-time NHL player in Drury.

“I would never be able to be objective but that is what I see,” Ted Drury said. “He’s creative and he competes really hard on the ice. He plays all the way up and down the ice. He makes plays but also helps stop plays. I like watching him play.”

Another big lesson learned from having former NHLers in his family is the need to be patient in his career path.

“You can’t get too ahead of yourself and worry about the future,” Jack Drury said. “It’s cliche, but you have to stay in the present and work on the little things in your game and then have confidence in yourself. Believe that you’re going to get to where you want to be in your career and when you look back, you’re happy with it.”

If it sounds as if Drury has some book smarts to go along with his natural hockey talent, there is a good reason: When he’s not on the ice, Drury is an avid reader.

“I enjoy reading,” the 23-year-old said. “I’ve gotten a little heat from the team for that, but I like it.

“I go through different phases,” Drury added. “Sometimes I read more non-fiction or mental-health-type books for sports psychology. And sometimes it’s more fiction. It kind of depends on the mood I’m in.”

That mood is often boosted by the support he gets from the Allstate Arena stands.

“I get family and high school friends at a decent number of games,” Drury said. “It’s definitely cool when I play in front of them.”