An NHL legend will be carving up Whitehorse ice next week.
Theoren Fleury, the former NHL all-star, Stanley Cup winner and gold-medal winning Olympian, is coming to town as a member of NorthwesTel’s Summit Hockey School.
He will be joined by another hockey great in Jayna Hefford, who has represented Team Canada at the Olympics five times. She scored the gold-medal-winning goal for Canada at the 2002 Winter Olympics.
Joe Martin, head instructor at the school and the current head coach of the BCHL’s Merritt Centennials, said the two superstars were receptive to coming on board from the start.
“Fleury is someone who wants to help and has a lot to share,” Martin said, as he was throwing his skates in his truck and getting ready to make the drive north to Whitehorse.
The school will begin on July 2, and off the ice, later that evening, Fleury will be making a speech at the Kwanlin Dun Cultural Centre as a keynote speaker for the Adaka Cultural Festival. Fleury will address goal-setting, ambition, hope, and perseverance.
The summit hockey school, which is now in its 12th season, is about more than just hockey.
Students learn about the importance of mental wellness, how to be a good teammate and a leader, how to respect a sport and your fellow competitors.
“It’s about respect and culture,” said Martin, “and improving yourself but not forgetting those two main points. If you are pursuing hockey, or any work, to get to the highest level you are going to have some situations arise and learning how to deal with them is key to becoming a pro.”
Martin is witness to the growth of the camp’s students, year after year.
Bodie Elias, originally from Old Crow, has been coming to the school since it began and is now one their youth leaders.
“He’s taken over that role as one of our go-to youth leaders,” Martin said of the former Whitehorse Mustang. “The kids learn from Theo, myself, Hefford, they learn from us and they go back to their communities with the knowledge and the skills to be a leader in their community.”
The camp will also welcome back Brian Kozak. He trains Mike Richards, who recently hoisted the Stanley Cup as a member of the L.A. Kings.
John Chabot will also be taking part. The former NHLer played for the Montreal Canadiens, Pittsburgh Penguins and Detroit Red Wings. Chabot is now the host of the television show Hit the Ice, where he travels across the country scouting top First Nation hockey talent.
“It’s pretty cool to have him come up here and see the Yukon talent, he’s always looking for more First Nation players to potentially get an opportunity like that.”
In 2012, the school hosted NHLer Jordin Tootoo, who became the first Inuk player and the first player to grow up in Nunavut to participate in an NHL game when he made his pro debut with the Nashville Predators.
“The list goes on and on of who comes up to help with this camp,” said Martin. “We find these professionals that fit what we’re doing to help these kids through sport. It’s a very unique camp, and that’s the fun part.”
The camp will run from July 2 to the 6, and registration is still available at Sport Yukon.
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