Attending a hockey camp at rogers arena at the age of 11, I met Vancouver Canucks legend Dave Babych, whose words would have an impact on my hockey life.
It was early 2012, and a young 11-year-old version of myself was making his way to Rogers Arena, as my dad signed me up for a hockey camp that was being held on the same ice as my favourite team, the Vancouver Canucks. I was nothing but excited to skate where my heroes did.
My dad had told me the camp was being hosted by former Canucks Dave Babych and Garry Valk. However, being born late in the year 2000 and not having the best knowledge of the roster and history at the age of 11, I honestly had no idea who either of those players were at the time.
Nonetheless, I was still awestruck when I first hit the ice with them at the camp. I was on the ice with former Canucks players! The same team I grew up watching! It’s crazy what little fame can do to children and their minds.
Throughout the whole camp, I still couldn’t believe that I was skating and practicing on the very same ice as all of the Canucks, let alone being coached by two alumni. On the ice, you can’t help but imagine that all of the seats were full, that you were in an NHL game. Looking up at the upper bowl, Ring of Honour and retired jerseys from the ice was surreal. It is definitely a day I won’t ever forget.
The camp was over the course of a full day, so we had a break for lunch. As my dad and I were heading up to the concourse for lunch, Babych stopped us. I was still in awe by who my dad told me he was. Now looking back on the memory, I am 100 percent sure I was just blatantly staring at him as he was talking with my dad. However, once done talking with him, Babych turned to me and said:
“Kid, you’re one heck of a skater, you shined out there. Keep it up!”
To say I was both smiling and embarrassed would be an understatement.
For a kid who was unsure if he would keep playing hockey, those words, despite not being much, would go on to encourage me to try harder in practice and in every aspect of my game. I mean, I never ended up playing pro, but without a doubt the next seven years of my life were filled with hard working and extremely fun hockey.
What still gets me to this day is that even though I had never seen Babych play in the NHL in my lifetime, why did his words have such an impact on me? Words have such a huge impact on people, whether we choose to accept it or not. Proverbs 18:21 says “the tongue has the power of life and death.”
As a kid, it didn’t even matter that I witnessed him as a player. Once I knew Babych was a former player for my favourite team, I idolized him. His words had such an impact because those words were coming from someone who had success in the thing I loved most dearly: Hockey.
If I can say anything from this: coaches, parents, mentors, and anyone who have people looking up to them, give words of encouragement, reassurance and enlightenment to those who surround you. You would be surprised on how far words can go to those who look up to you.