As told to: Staff WriterWhen I was 12 years old, I started to really get into hockey. The previous years, I had started to make the single “A” team in my rather small hometown of Georgetown, Ontario. The top team was “AA” and despite some progress in my game, I was cut annually. My best friend and next door neighbour was on that team and I longed to be on it myself.
In single “A” we had a coach who I had never heard of, and to my knowledge, wasn’t well known in our town’s hockey circles. He didn’t have a kid on the team or previous relationships with the parents. His name was Tom Davidson and I would come to later find out that he was a great hockey mind and motivator. His father was a former captain of the Toronto Maple Leafs and he had a soon-to-be famous childhood friend.
Tom’s childhood friend was John Candy. These were SCTV times — 1983 — and we all knew and loved Candy. He was our sponsor, with “Candy Productions” on the bottom under my last name on the back of our Georgetown Rep jerseys. We didn’t really focus on it too much, at least until John came to a game. This was the first time it hit us: John Candy was in the Orangeville arena to cheer on his team. In the room before and after the game he gave us a pep talk.
I looked up a couple times in the stands and he was watching as a fan, sitting with our parents. I remember him eating a hotdog. I remember realizing how much our parents were into us. We were the focal point for all of them even as John Candy sat beside them in a cold arena. Imagine going to school the next day and telling that story in 1983.
Tom Davidson taught us a system. For the first time, we had a plan. After finishing third in our league, we managed to win our league and three more rounds until we reached the all-Ontario semi-finals. It was magic (until someone from our own town reported us to the OMHA for playing in a tournament while still in the playoffs. I don’t think that has happened before or since. The OMHA suspended our coach and that ended the run.)
When Splash came out, John had a special treat for his Candy Productions hockey team. He rented an entire movie theatre and sat with us as we all watched together: the team, our families. It was incredible.
Being 12, it didn’t all sink in for me at the time, and that’s probably the best part. I moved on from that team and made the “AA” team the next year, thanks in no small part to the coaching I received. The next years were filled with good moments, but never again would things come together so magically for me in a season.
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