“It’s so wicked,” he says. “What an amazing opportunity to be involved with not only some of hockey’s biggest issues and biggest names, but also to represent Molson. What a treat.”
Four Hockey Questions
Did/do you play hockey?
Yes I did when I was younger. I have had the skates hung up for many years now other than the odd outdoor game each winter.
I played from age nine unitl I was 21. Started as a your typical house leaguer after learning to skate on the ponds behind my house in Corbyville (just outside of Belleville, Ont). I moved from a forward to tending the pipes after my first year in Atom. Made my way on to the select team and eventually went on to play AA right through until Midget, then Juvie when the dream was over. Played all my years out of Belleville except for my overage year in Juvie where I played in Lakefield while attending College in Peterborough.
I like to think I was super fuckin’ amazing, but what kid doesn’t? I was all right, I guess … obviously not good enough to make the show … but the game when I was young was my passion and still is to this day. I received a scouting letter to attend a Junior A (Tier 2) camp in Oshawa for the old Legionaires (now Whitby Fury), who played in the now-defunct Metro League. I thought it was a joke at first … one of my buds pulling a fast one as there was no letterhead on the actual invite, plus I was 18 at the time. Then a second one came and I knew it was the real deal. I did not go as I went off to college instead and figured I would play in the OCAA. Well, my first year the college kept the two goalies from the past years’ team and that was that. Other things then got in the way as the thought of any thing serious in hockey had faded long before. When I say other things, I mean the usual college stuff like studying and planning my career … LOL!
What is your earliest hockey memory? My earliest hockey memories are sitting in the kitchen or laying on the counter and watching a small TV we had while my parents would be downstairs either entertaining or watching some other show that was NOT Hockey Night in Canada. FOR SHAME! LOL. This was at age six (the start of the 79-80 season). Of course due to the location, all we had were Leafs games. They did play the odd Habs game, or you could watch them on the French channel. I would study the players, started collecting cards that my dad would buy for me and studied them. It was a religion every Saturday night for me (very cliche I know for so many Canadians … but oh so true). So, obviously I was a Leafs fan, who, like many kids my age, found it tough to watch them as they were always losing. My grandfather would blame Harold Ballard and so would I. I had fallen hard for Wayne Gretzky as well, also like many my age as he had just entered the league and was taking it by storm. Still my favourite player to this day. Another memory close to my heart and a good segue to my favourite team now is attending the Belleville Bulls games their first few seasons (after they joined the OHL for the 81-82 season). My dad would take me even though he is not a huge hockey fan, but, like buying cards and hockey stickers, he knew I loved it. This is where I got to see Steve Yzerman play. I thought he was pretty good and, truth be told, his name also stuck out to me as a kid. So, as you can guess I started following the Red Wings the best I could after he joined them. Obviously pre-internet days or satellite TV, so I would just wait for the Wings to play the Leafs to actually get to see Stevie play. He was a Leaf killer.
On a side note … obviously still a diehard Wings fan and yes a closet Leafs fan as long as they are not playing Detroit. My dream since they moved Toronto to the East is that they would play in the final. It was looking possible in ’02 but no dice. Ahh well, the Wings got ‘er done that year regardless!
Are there any sessions to which you are particularly looking forward? I am looking forward to the session involving the grass roots — player skill development issues and the growing participation topics. I have many friends with kids in hockey and my six-year-old is starting to show a real interest. I have my own opinions about some of these that I am sure I will share throughout the week. Friends all have voiced their opinions to me knowing that I will be there to hear what the main brass have to say.
If there’s anyone you want to meet next week, who is it and why? Stevie Y would be the no-brainer answer … but luckily Justin and I got to meet him last November at the press conference for the Molson Canadian Hockey House. That was a bucket list moment. Meeting (or I guess you could say seeing Steve again will be awesome) but I would really like to meet Brendan Shanahan. I always loved the way he played the game and, when he came to the Wings, that was incredible. It really put them over the hump for those back-to-back Cups in ’97 & ’98. I also think it would be a treat to meet Mark Johnson. He has had a very storied career.