When Jamie Butt, the father of Everett Silvertips forward Dawson Butt, watches his son play, he can almost imagine himself in the same skates. The energy and gumption Dawson plays the game with, Jamie said, is reminiscent of the way he played.
Lauded for his toughness and a propensity to drop the gloves at anytime, the elder Butt played four years in the Western Hockey League from 1992 to 1996, three with Tacoma and one with Kelowna when the franchise moved there. He recorded 41 points and 514 penalty minutes in 156 games.
“Back then, you had to be tough,” Jamie said. “It was a lot more different play. There was a lot more fighting and intimidation back then. You had to be tough, and even the goal scorers had to be able to scrap once in awhile.”
Jamie Butt was drafted by the New York Rangers in the 11th round of the 1994 NHL Draft, but back injuries ultimately derailed his career.
Meanwhile, his son has earned the respect of old-school hockey fans with a toughness that hearkens back to a different era. But Dawson also has earned the trust of his coaches for adding a new-school flair and skill to his game, while retaining that throwback style.
“I think Dawson has taken full advantage of some holes in our lineups,” Everett head coach Dennis Williams said. “I do think he continues to bring the physical presence. He’s one of our top guys in making big hits and finishing his checks and he’s been rewarded with going up there and playing on some of those (top) lines.
“It’s a big year for him on an individual standpoint, but I think a lot of it is from the summer he put together”
Williams said he challenged Dawson in their exit meeting last year to become more of a well-rounded player and emphasized his playing time wouldn’t increase unless he made some changes.
Dawson welcomed the challenge.
“I obviously took it right to heart, because I wanted to have a bigger role on this team this year,” Dawson said of the exit meeting. “It’s good to hear because what he said gave me a lot of confidence with how he challenged me and what he saw in me. It’s nice to see someone sees that in you. I wanted to show it.”
The 2000-born forward revamped his diet and conditioning and fine-tuned his skills in offseason workouts. The work clearly has paid off. Dawson has quadrupled his point total, from three points in 45 games last season to 12 in 41 games this season. He’s scored six goals in 2018-2019 after tallying just one last season.
Dawson proved himself a capable enough offensive performer while playing for coach Turner Stevenson — a longtime NHL veteran — in the Sno Kings bantam program to be selected in the sixth round of the 2015 WHL bantam draft. He eventually followed Stevenson when he took the helm of the Junior Silvertips 16-U program and put up 29 points (18 goals and 11 assists) in 22 games.
“I’ve always had offensive capabilities before coming into the (WHL) last year,” Dawson said. “Obviously it’s tough as a rookie, but I feel like I had a little bit more of a chance and a little bit more of a work ethic this year and wanting to play and wanting to improve.”
The 18-year-old old winger grew up in Buckley, Washington, a small, rural town in Pierce County. Jamie settled in the area after a couple seasons playing with the Tacoma Sabercats of West Coast Hockey League and developed a liking to the open spaces of Buckley. It reminded him of the country living he enjoyed growing up in Sherwood Park, Alberta.
Pierce County is certainly no hockey hotbed and the Butt family endured long travel to ensure Dawson could play at a high level. Jamie coached Dawson for many of those seasons and taught him the intricacies of hockey — and also how to fight, just in case.
And even though Dawson is a more versatile and dynamic player this season, he’s still more than willing to drop the gloves — he’s been a part of six fights this season, according to hockeyfights.com.
“I’m never going to get away from that side of the game either,” Butt said.
His teammates respect him for his willingness to stick up for them in dust ups.
“What a lot of people don’t realize is how well-liked of a teammate he is in the locker room,” Williams said.
Now that he’s undergone his junior hockey breakout, would Dawson rather score a goal or win a fight?
“Depends on where we are in a game,” he said, “because they’re both equally as fun.”
Further proof the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.