Vancouver’s Woo becomes NHL’s No. 2 Chinese heritage pick

Jett Woo reacts after being selected 37th overall by the Vancouver Canucks during the 2018 NHL Draft

Montreal (AFP) – Teen defenceman Jett Woo says becoming the second-highest National Hockey League Draft pick of Chinese heritage is “really special” after going to the Vancouver Canucks.

The 17-year-old Canadian, selected 37th overall on Saturday in the draft’s second round, scored nine goals last season for the Moose Jay Warriors junior team in the Western Hockey League.

“This is incredible,” Woo said. “There are no words to describe it.”

Woo said he wasn’t aware until a pre-draft scouting session that he would become a milestone setter for Chinese-heritage talent, with only Joshua Ho-Sang, picked 28th in the first round by the New York Islanders in 2014, taken higher.

“To have my heritage with me in this process is something that has really pulled me into learning more about my heritage and my family and it’s something really special.”

Woo was born in Winnipeg to father Larry, who is of Chinese descent, and his mother Dolly, who is of German ancestry. Woo’s paternal grandparents were born in Canton, China, and owned several restaurants in Winnipeg.

Jett’s father, who played forward for Western League clubs Victoria and Swift Current in his junior days, and mother named Woo for Chinese film star Jet Li.

“As the story goes, I think Jet Li was coming to Winnipeg and my grandparents were going to host him as a billet family, but Li decided to go into Hollywood instead, which worked out for him,” Woo said.

“My grandparents loved the name and my parents loved the name, so that’s where I believe the name came from.”

Jett said he hopes to one day play an NHL game in China, where the Boston Bruins and Calgary Flames will meet in pre-season games in September in Shenzen and Beijing, where the 2022 Winter Olympics will be staged.

“I’ve never been to China, so it would be really neat to go there and play a hockey game, for sure,” Woo said. “Going to China is something on my bucket list.”