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Ducks’ Josh Manson isn’t trying to copy father’s style on the ice

Ducks defenseman Josh Manson (42) talks with teammate Cam Fowler (4) during the first period.

Ducks defenseman Josh Manson (42) talks with teammate Cam Fowler (4) during the first period.

(Alex Gallardo / Associated Press)

Ducks winger Chris Stewart learned about the lineage of teammate Josh Manson when he was watching from the bench in a game against Florida last month.

Manson crumpled a Panthers player, and Stewart shouted appreciation.

“Oh, the old Dave Manson [move],” Stewart said.

Stewart was then told that Manson is, in fact, the son of Dave Manson, one of the NHL’s meanest defensemen of the 1980s and 1990s whom Stewart admired as a kid.

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“I was the ultimate [Toronto Maple] Leafs super fan growing up,” Stewart said. “I loved him. A guy would be coming down the wing and Dave Manson would just punch the guy in the chest and [the guy] would fall down. It was old school. I loved it. It was good to hear.”

It has been good for the Ducks that Josh Manson, 24, has mixed in some of his father’s game while forming his own identity as a young defenseman with a lot of potential. Since he was recalled last season, Manson has used his imposing presence at 6 feet 3 and 215 pounds to play a responsible yet physical game that belies his baby face and harkens back to his father, to a degree.

“I know the kind of player that he was,” Josh said. “It’s a different game now, for sure. The way he played was a little bit different just because of the time and the era. But I think there’s a little bit of his game in me. I think that’s just genes. If there is a bit of my game that’s like his, then I think it just happens. I didn’t try to do it.”

A search of Dave Manson on YouTube brings up numerous fights during his 16-year career in which he racked up 2,792 penalty minutes. Josh said he doesn’t remember his father being in a fight when he was growing up. One day a friend pulled up one of those YouTube clips and said, “Have you seen this?”

Josh grew to understand that aspect of hockey but didn’t make it his calling card. He converted from a forward to defenseman when a junior coach broached it, and he found it easier to see the play unfold from the back end. Dave coached Josh some as a kid but said “once he got a little older, as a parent you sit back and watch. If he has questions, you answer.”

Dave was fully aware that his reputation would follow Josh, but said it’s a misconception.

“Everybody thinks that because you’re rough and tumble on the ice, you’re like that off of it,” the raspy-voiced Dave Manson said by phone from Prince Albert, Canada. “We have a pretty good relationship. The way I used to play doesn’t in any way [reflect his game] ... sometimes that can be a distraction for other people.”

For the rugged legacy that’s so synonymous with him, Dave once said that Josh gets his edge from his mother, Lana.

“There could be a side to that,” Josh said with a laugh.

Josh cites her as much, if not more, for her role in his upbringing in Prince Albert.

“I think she doesn’t get nearly enough credit,” he said. “I’ve got to give a lot of credit to my mom because when my dad was on the road, she was the one that was there. Hockey players, it’s part of the job. You go on the road for a week. She was the one. She kept us in line. She deserves a lot more credit than I think I’ve put out in the media.”

Dave and Lana Manson are responsible for the politeness and earnestness that Josh exhibits off the ice. Dave said they taught him to be respectful.

“A good Saskatchewan farm boy,” teammate Clayton Stoner said. “He’s very easy to like.”

Stoner smiled when asked about Manson’s youthful, innocent look. After a recent practice, Manson was seen playing keep-away with a rubber puck with the toddler son of a Ducks staffer, and it was difficult to tell who was having more fun.

Months earlier, Manson engaged Milan Lucic of the Kings in a fight in an exhibition game. It was duly noted by his teammates.

“It takes a lot of guts to go up against a guy like that,” Stoner said. “He’s probably watched 50 of his fights over the years when he was a little bit younger. It can be a little bit intimidating at times, but it shows that he’s not scared and he’s willing to do what it takes.”

Dave says he’s biased but agreed that his son has the tools for an NHL career. Specifically, his son’s skating, shot and vision can keep him at this level, if only as a third pairing defenseman.

“Nobody has a crystal ball, but he’s worked very hard at it,” Dave Manson said.

The Ducks saw fit to give Manson a two-year, one-way contract after his 28-game stint last season. Manson said he still has to earn it and prove himself, and if he does so by stepping out from his father’s shadow, so be it.

There is no mention of his father in Manson’s biography in the team’s media guide.

“I hope [people] don’t think I need to be exactly like him,” Manson said. “If I can do anything of what he did — 17 years in the NHL — if you can do that, all the power to you, and I would hope to be able to be like him in that regard. But other than that, I just try to play my own game and create my own name.”

sports@latimes.com


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