Abbotsford Canuck Jack Rathbone has been a pivotal player, and fan favourite, of the team since its inception in 2021. The 23-year-old blueliner put up 40 points in his rookie season with Abbotsford, being voted Rookie of the Year by Abbotsford fans and making the AHL all rookie team for the 2021-2022 season. On the ice, Jack Rathbone is nothing short of a great hockey player.

Off the ice, his character speaks for itself by being a role model to so many, and the person he credits for that is his younger brother Teddy.

“He’s definitely my best friend,” Jack said of his 14-year-old brother. Teddy was diagnosed with autism at a young age and was non-verbal at the beginning of his childhood. Communicating through an iPad and going to speech therapy, Teddy made huge strides, always with a smile.

“With all the adversity he’s been through, I don’t think I’ve ever seen him have a bad day,” said Jack.

Autism is characterized by differences with social communication, sensory sensitivities, and repetitive behaviour, as well as a wide range of individual strengths, interests and abilities, as defined by the Canucks Autism Network (CAN).

“Our ultimate goal at Canucks Autism Network is for every individual on the autism spectrum to be understood, accepted, and supported in all community spaces,” said CAN Director of Marketing, Lindsay Petrie. “We really believe in celebrating autism acceptance over awareness at Canucks Autism Network, because being aware that people on the spectrum exist is not enough. We need to have conversations. We need to take steps to actively include, welcome and support people in all community spaces.”

“Every family has their battles, but we’ve been fortunate for him to make as much progress as he has,” said Jack.

For kids like Teddy, programs such as the Canucks Autism Network are very important.

“There are some awesome people that he’s worked with in the Boston public school system. He’s made some incredible progress over the past 13 years or so,” said Jack.

Drafted 95th overall in 2017, Jack chose to finish out his highschool hockey career instead of heading straight to a higher level of hockey to stay close to his family. Now three years away from home to pursue his professional hockey career, Jack takes every opportunity to connect with his family. Jack and his brother Facetime frequently, something Jack says he looks forward to.

According to him, Teddy is the “easiest person in the world to get along with,” and with the help of speech therapy and support from his family and community, has become a funny and outgoing teen.

“He has one of the best personalities of anyone I’ve ever met,” said Jack. “He brings the fun out of any event that you’re in, and that is something I really respect.”

Through his relationship with Teddy, Jack has a different perspective on his hockey career and sees the ability for him to play his game night after night, a privilege.

“He’s taught me way more than I’ve ever been able to teach him,” said Jack, “to see him grow into the young man that he is, is pretty special as an older brother.”