While Hockey Moms are obviously essential to the success of youth players, there is still a very special place for dads in the hockey world. There is nothing like a father. Some may resemble a bull in a china shop and some may say inappropriate things at the most inappropriate time but dads are a rare mixture of love, intensity, hope and hate with a little criticism thrown in for good measure.
Many National Hockey League hall of fame inductees have cited hockey fathers with driving them to ultimate success in the NHL and in life.
Hockey dads are irreplaceable providing direction, focus and “incentive.”
Many NHL hall of fame inductees have cited hockey fathers with driving them to success in professional sports and in life in general.
An example of that is found with New York Islander defenseman Denis Potvin who admired his father and always wanted to make him proud. Potvin’s father had attended all of his youth hockey games and provided critiques as he developed and grew into a Hall of Fame defenseman.
” I played for my dad all of my life.” I struggled with my dad’s death for some time and decided to retire after 15 years in the league (NHL)” he said.
“After my dad died, I felt like I was playing before empty seats and I lost my desire to play” Potvin added.
In the series against the cross town rival New York Rangers, prior to the finals against the Oilers, Potvin had been erratic, sometimes losing the puck, sometimes making passes to nowhere.
He acknowledges he was preoccupied with his father, whose condition was deteriorating.
”Listen, there are times there’s a place you want to be and you’re not,” says Potvin, recalling his mental state that series.
Potvin’s comments clearly displayed his intense devotion to and the dependence on his father.
When Armand Potvin died of cancer his son (Denis) lost all desire to compete at the highest professional level and retired.
Still a standout performer, Potvin turned down an offer for another contract from Islanders GM Bill Torrey electing to retire instead.
That is what a father can mean to his son or daughter.
The number one rated player in NHL history, Wayne Gretzky, also mentioned his father as being instrumental in his development and success.
Walter Gretzky built a rink in the backyard and started working with his son at the age of 3, helping him ‘think’ the game. Walter taught Wayne, Keith, Brent, Glen and their friend’s hockey on a rink he made in the back yard of the family home, nicknamed the “Wally Coliseum”.
Drills included skating around bleach bottles and tin cans, and flipping pucks over scattered hockey sticks to be able to pick up the puck again in full flight. Additionally, Walter gave the advice to “skate where the puck’s going, not where it’s been”
Today Walter Gretzky is in his mid seventies. He was recently diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and survived a stroke.
The Gretzky name became a legend because of Walter’s devotion to his son’s desire to be the best and work hard to accomplish his goals.
On February 12, 2010, Walter had the chance to carry the Olympic Torch during the Olympic Relay hours before the Opening Ceremonies in Vancouver, British Columbia.
Wayne and his wife Paula have five children: Paulina, Ty, Trevor, Tristan, and Emma. Each member of Wayne’s family has shown a desire to standout and make a name for themselves.
Walter Gretzky can be given a lot of the credit for that. His leadership and devotion to fundamentals and hard work laid out the foundation the third generation Gretzky’s are following.
Sam Schneider who coached hockey and ran a hockey program on the east coast recognized his sons Mathieu and JA were gifted players and maneuvered around the hockey establishment to help his sons get the best playing opportunities and hockey education. Passing up U.S teams Matt played for Cornwall in the Ontario Hockey League and the results allowed his son to get drafted into the NHL. That did not stop Sam from pushing his boys to be the best they could be in school and with other extracurricular activities. Mathieu also became an accomplished pianist in addition to being an accomplished hockey player.
Matt succeeded as a professional hockey player (Montreal Canadians), and now seems poised to assume more responsibility with the NHLPA (National Hockey League Players Association).
His younger son JA has been a youth coach in the Atlanta area while practicing law and coaching his two son’s.
Sam Schneider was an innovator who created the model now used by most AAA teams which concentrates on skill development.
There are many hockey parent stories that demonstrate the tremendous love parents have for their children and many more stories that are being written today.
Sidney Crosby’s father had to make sacrifices, as did Doug Orr (Bobby’s dad) and many more.
The narratives are still being written and many hockey dads are providing their kids plenty of constructive criticism to go along with the tough love that makes up what fathers are all about.
There are many hockey stories that demonstrate the tremendous love and devotion parents have for their children and many more stories that are still being written today.
With all of the effort many hockey fathers exhibit, ‘Happy Father’s Day “is a rare occurrence on the ice.
Happy Father’s Day:
I apologize in advance if we omitted anyone. Feel free to add fathers day greetings in the comments section.