Bozon hopes to follow father's footsteps to NHL


Daily News Sports Editor

Tim Bozon knows where he wants to play hockey in 2011-12.

"Kamloops," Bozon told The Daily News during a texting exchange on Tuesday.

Bozon, the Kamloops Blazers' lone selection in last month's CHL import draft, is an interesting study.

The 17-year-old son of former NHL forward Philippe Bozon, Tim - "My name is TimothÃ, but everybody calls me Tim," he wrote - was born in St. Louis while his father was playing for the Blues. The family now lives in Lugano, Switzerland, but Tim has played internationally for France, despite never having played minor hockey in that country.

"It's just because all my family are French, and my grandfather and my father played for France's national team," Bozon explained. "It's why I play, too."

The 6-foot-1, 182-pound Bozon, who is fluent in English, Italian, French and German, played his minor hockey in Switzerland, the location dependent upon where his father was playing or coaching.

"I lived one year in Kloten and I learned German, and three years in Lugano and I learned Italian," he noted. "I learned English at school."

Naturally, Philippe has been rather important in the shaping of his son's career.

"He has a lot of experience and is a good example for me and I try to learn from him," Tim said. "He coached me when we were in Geneva."

Not that it was always fun . . .

"It was not so easy for us," the son stated. "He was hard with me but, finally, I learned a lot and I will always learn with him."

Right now, the family is vacationing in France. That includes mother HÃlÃne and the other two children - Allison, 19, and Kevin, 16.

Philippe was the first French-trained player to reach the NHL. An international legend, he was inducted into the IIHF Hall of Fame in 2008. Right now, he is between coaching jobs, having been fired by HC Lugano on Nov. 29. Former NHL assistant coach Barry Smith now is Lugano's head coach; the roster includes ex-Blazers forward Hnat Domenichelli.

Tim said he was "really excited" to be selected by the Blazers and added that he has chatted with Domenichelli, who has played in Switzerland for eight seasons, the last three in Lugano.

"He said to me that it's a very good team . . . so I'm very happy to play in the WHL," Bozon continued. "It's one of my dreams to play in this league. It's a very good level and you get more chance to play one day in the NHL.

"It's going to be a great experience."

Asked to look in a mirror and describe his game, Bozon replied: "I like to have the puck to control the game. I have a good vision of the game. I like to play physical and I have good skills. I can score goals."

Last season, he had 29 points, 16 of them goals, in 27 games with Lugano's U20 team.

In December, France's U20 team will play in the Division I Group B tournament in Tychy, Poland, but Bozon said that isn't his first concern.

"No, not really," he stated. "I told the coach and we agreed that if I go play in Canada he let's me be free. But if he asks me to play in the World championship, I will say 'yes,' of course.

"But I just want to focus on Kamloops. That is most important for me right now."

At 17, it's more likely he would be invited to play for France at the IIHF Division I Group A U18 championship in Piestany, Slovakia, Dec. 11-17. That tournament also will include Norway, Slovakia, Slovenia, Italy and Japan.

Bozon already has played with France's U18 side on two occasions, most recently at the Division I Group B tournament in Maribor, Slovenia, in April.

"We finished third and it was the first time that France's U18 team has brought back a medal," he noted. Bozon had six points, three of them goals, in five games.

Bozon is the second Swiss player selected by the Blazers in the import draft. The first, forward Janick Steinmann, played one season (2005-06) here, picking up 18 points in 55 games. He played this season for Davos in the Swiss-A league.

The Portland Winterhawks, however, have had great success with Swiss forwards Nino Niederreiter and Sven Bartschi, both of whom have signed NHL contracts after being first-round draft picks. Niederreiter has played two seasons in Portland, while Bartschi was the Western Conference's rookie of the year in 2010-11.

Bozon knows both players. He also knows "very well" sophomore defenceman Dave Sutter of the Seattle Thunderbirds, having played two years with him in Geneva.

Bozon also is "very good friends" with forward Alessio Bertaggia, who was selected by the Brandon Wheat Kings in last month's import draft.

Bertaggia's father, Sandro, was an assistant coach with the Lugano team that fired Bozon's father.

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