Following the morning games on the Friday of the MacPherson Hockey Tournament, all eight teams, their coaches, and any family that made the trip to St. Andrew’s College were welcomed into Cole Hall for a traditional luncheon.
Once everyone is seated, the head table, consisting of School leadership, tournament organizers, and the guest speaker, are piped into the dining hall. The luncheon brings all the teams together in one room and is essentially the official kick-off to the weekend.
With nearly a hundred hockey players in attendance, who had all played earlier that morning, food was the top priority. As a former Saints player, Nicholas Weedon ’02, Associate Director of Advancement and tournament co-convener, knows this all too well, so he made sure the boys got their food promptly following his welcome address.
Following lunch, Mr. Weedon introduced this year’s guest speaker, 11-year NHL veteran and Stanley Cup Champion with the 1989 Calgary Flames, Colin Patterson. The Toronto native played for nine years with the Flames and his final two years with the Buffalo Sabres, retiring in 1994.
Colin’s message to the players was relatable across the room. He spoke of his teenage days playing hockey, and how he was still figuring out where the sport fit in with his future. He spoke of facing adversity at a young age, getting cut nine times in 12 days when trying out for local midget teams. He thought, “I’m done with hockey,” but was then invited out to the high school team and continued to play.
He told the players that hockey can seem like your whole world when you’re young, but it is important to always keep things in perspective. He repeated some of the best advice he received along the way: “Don’t let hockey use you, you use hockey.”
With that in mind, he regained his passion for the game at the Jr. A level with the Royal York Royals. That led to an invite to play in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) for the Peterborough Petes, although the fit wasn’t right, and he would ultimately decline the invitation. He elected to try for (and earn) a scholarship to play at Clarkson University in New York so he could get an education while playing hockey at the university level.
In his junior year at Clarkson, Colin was noticed by a scout for the Flames. He would eventually sign an NHL contract with them and complete his degree in the off-seasons.
Colin relayed a story from his time with the Flames about a talented young rookie he accidentally injured in a comical way during the preseason. As a surprise to everyone in Cole Hall, that “talented rookie” was in the building! Gary Roberts stood up from the other side of the hall and gave a wave to a round of applause from the players.
Gary is a former NHLer and a past guest speaker at the MacPherson Tournament. He was Colin’s teammate with the Flames, playing an important role on their Stanley Cup-winning team in 1989.
The path Colin took to the NHL was certainly unconventional, but after 11 years in the league and a Stanley Cup ring on his right hand, hearing about his life experiences firsthand are invaluable to teenage players with similar dreams.
Colin concluded his speech with a strong message: “Do something that’s going to make you better. Better as a person, better as a student, better as an athlete.”
The rest will take care of itself.
Story by Sean Maillet