Isn’t it funny when you listen to interviews with professional athletes or more specifically professional hockey players and they are asked “When did you start playing hockey and what are your fondest memories?” Well to you, this may not seem like that odd a question to ask a budding star, but I for one find it quite humorous, especially if he has played the game for any amount of time at all and is the same age category as myself. I’m sure if asked that question I could tell you many stories about my days as a novice star, but do I actually remember that far back….NO WAY!
Back then the game was very physical and tough and concussions did not even exist. If you happened to complain or miss a game because of something like that you could just as well kiss your career good bye. It was a game of survival of the fittest in every sense of the word and I was determined to survive.
However, one memory I can recall and I consider this to be the start of my quest to chase a dream of becoming a NHL player, was the 1978 Super Series in which Montreal beat a team from the Soviet Union 5-2. From that point forward I dreamed of playing in the NHL for the Montreal Canadiens even though my scrap book said that I wanted to be a Fire fighter when I grew up, I guess I still have time to fulfil that one then.
I was determined to get there, but wasn’t quite sure of how my plan was going to work out. You see, back then there were only a handful of players from NL that ever made it to the mainland to play, yet alone making the NHL. So, every day after school I became for a brief moment in time Guy Lafleur and donned his infamous number 10 every time I put a stick in my hands from that day forward. Whether it was on the road or pick-up hockey or minor hockey, I was # 10.
I realized that if I was going to get to the mainland to pursue my dream that drastic measures had to be taken and I had to dedicate myself 100% to becoming the best player I could. My problem was that I wasn’t the most gifted player early in my playing days and did not even make my local All-Star teams on several occasions, but that was quite fine by me because I got to have a lot more fun and ice time than all my other friends who made these teams. As well, I did not have to put up with some of the crazy hockey Moms and Dads that fill our rinks all winter long and even all summer long as it is in today's game.
I did have two very important things going for me however; my size and determination, which if applied correctly can change anyone’s life around no matter what profession you decide to pursue and you will see the importance of this character trait as my blog goes on.
Back then in the 70’s and 80’s it was usually the toughest and biggest that made the next step and that is the way NHL teams were built and it was no more evident than the way the Super Series was played during the late 70’s. But even though this was the way the game was back then, what difference did it make to me? I was from NL, an island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean that I would say maybe a dozen scouts had ventured to during those years and that was probably to visit a relative or a diverted flight that had to make an emergency landing. So I decided to take matters into my own hands and find a way to get a chance to get to the mainland. There was no internet back then, so everyday and evening I began writing letters. I would say from the ages of 14 – 16 I probably wrote 200 letters. I wrote universities, major jr. teams, tier II teams, prep schools and just about anyone and everyone’s address that I could find in the Hockey News. I would send my stats and school grades which I believed at the time to be very impressive, well to me at least they were. The only problem with this was that there were 1000’s of players already on the mainland with the same numbers playing against ten times the skill level of my competition, so how was I supposed to get someone to gamble and invest in me when there was really no benefits in it for them at all.
If you decide to follow my blog you will see how it all came about and some of the many obstacles and lessons I learnt along the way. I will be choosing a topic of discussion every week from some of the many media reports that publish sports and other topics daily.
Stay tuned and I hope you follow and enjoy!
Stay tuned and I hope you follow and enjoy!