Liam Kirk has made a name for himself despite being picked by the Arizona Coyotes in the seventh round of the 2018 NHL Draft. What sets Kirk apart is that instead of growing up with facilities that help kids get into the NHL, he grew up in Great Britain where hockey has never produced an NHL talent.
However, Kirk proved himself to be a force in this year’s IIHF Men’s World Championships in Riga, Latvia. In seven games, the 21-year-old scored seven times. This is impressive when you think that he is able to score against national teams that have a stronger system and team than Great Britain. They even picked up a win against Belarus and Kirk received the “Hero of the Day” award from the IIHF.
But what is next for the six-foot-one native of Maltby?
For the last few years before the pandemic, he’s been placed with the Peterborough Petes in the Ontario Hockey League to help develop his skills. In the two years that he played there, he earned 97 points, while netting 47 goals. But because he is older, he is unable to continue with junior, and thus, is set to move on.
The most likely of outcomes was that he’d be signed to an AHL team following the conclusion of the annual tournament. Whether that be with the Tucson Roadrunners or another team. It’s likely that on his road to the NHL, he’ll have a brief stop in the league to continue strengthening his skills before appearing on the big stage.
However, although he isn’t at the level of McDavid, his impact in the game is arguably stronger. Kirk has a devoted fanbase from his home nation that is cheering for his success and children in the nation being inspired to one day be just like Kirk.
Everything in Great Britain also seems to be readying for the public eye to be on someone like Kirk. Since being chosen to take part in the World Championship and being able to stay put for four years, more sponsorships and broadcasts have gravitated towards the sport.
The Elite Ice Hockey League (EIHL), which has at least one team in all four countries in the United Kingdom, has attracted and grown a fanbase as well. Some of the teams have also seen success against historic European clubs like the Cardiff Devils in the Challenge Cup.
Although most hockey fans likely won’t know the name or the significance of his talents, it’s obvious that he is a trojan and will help guide Great Britain to becoming both a feared and well-respected hockey nation.