Most professional hockey players will tell you it took a team of people to help get them to where they are today — dedicated parents, an inspiring coach, a ruthless agent.
I wasn’t any of those things for NHL hockey player Tyler Seguin.
I did, however, get an assist on one of his many goals scored in a Tyke tournament in Orono, Ont., in 1998.
I like to think of it as my contribution to his impressive hockey career.
Seguin managed to score 18 times in those three tournament games and needless to say, the Whitby Tim Hortons Flyers captured the trophy due in no small part to his superstar abilities.
Already playing a year ahead of his age group, it was evident that Seguin was different than the rest of us.
It wasn’t his size, or looks, or attitude that made him stand out, it was his skill and understanding of the game.
While I was trying to remember which side of the ice to line up on when coach said, “Taylor you’re playing left wing,” Seguin already knew where and when to be in the right position.
His hockey sense was lightyears beyond mine and it was clear to anyone watching that he was our star.
Now that is not to say our team did not have other good players, but Seguin had that something extra that differentiates a great player from a good one.
Superstars like Sydney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin have a way of taking over a game and willing their team to a win, Seguin was proving he had that ability at age six.
When an opposing team put up eight goals against us in the Orono tournament, Seguin countered with eight of his own.
He was able to do things on the ice that seemed impossible to an ankle burner like me.
I remember when it was my turn to play goalie. I dreaded the day, even though the coupon for a free small fry at McDonald’s from the coach was enticing.
I tried my best while between the pipes but ultimately, I let in four goals. I was frustrated after every goal and felt like the team was going to lose because of my inability to stop the puck.
Then I looked at the scoreboard.
It was 12-4.
For a moment I forgot I played with Seguin and the 1998 Whitby Tim Hortons Flyers.
We won a lot of games that season, cruised into the playoffs and claimed the championship.
We celebrated in banquet halls, shared a few laughs and pepperoni pizzas, and drank way too many cans of soda pop along the way.
My trophies from that season are long gone but my memories of it still remain.
Over the years my dad, who is an avid sports fan, would say every now and then, “Hey remember that kid you played with? Well he just did this amazing thing at the next level of competition.” I never paid it much mind, but I knew who he was referring to.
Eventually Seguin’s draft year arrived, and he went from being “that kid you played with” to Tyler Seguin, NHL player.
Seguin was picked second overall by Boston in the 2010 NHL draft and went on to win the Stanley Cup as a rookie with the Bruins. He was eventually traded to the Dallas Stars — where he continues to play — and has appeared in six NHL All-Star games.
So maybe I didn’t have the biggest impact on Seguin’s career, but he would have one less goal on his resume if it weren’t for my slick pass that day in Orono.
My hockey “career” ended in 1999. Skating on a line with Seguin was as close as I’ll ever get to playing in the NHL and I am OK with that.