Trevor Gillies

18 year Professional and over 3000 PIM's

Ryan Reaves is entering his 19th season as a professional hockey player. Drafted in the 5th round in 2005, Reaves talks about his days in the AHL and what it took for him to make the jump from the AHL to the NHL.

Growing  up in a very competitive family, with his father, CHL Hall Of Famer, Willard Reaves, and his brother Jordan, who also became a professional football player, Ryan said his dad never let him win and all his victories were definitely earned.

Ryan said there were no participation trophies in his house, growing up, and he takes the same approach to raising his own kids.  He makes no apologies for his stance on this and says “If my son comes home with a participation ribbon, it goes in the garbage”.

Every member on a team has a role.  Ryan may not be a finesse player, or a 30+ goal scorer, but he has experienced a very long career, that is still going, because he has solidified his role as an enforcer and believes players like him will always be needed, no matter how much they try to take fighting out of the game, because players like Reaves hold others accountable for the their violent actions on the ice.

777 game NHLer and NHL Analyst, Bill Lindsay, talks about his 1996 run for the Stanley Cup as a member of the Florida Panthers, and why he thinks this current team has what it takes to win the Cup.

Bill discusses the importance of teamwork, and how each and every person on a team is responsible for their teammates jobs. He says when you have that mentality, you work harder, knowing your are responsible for your teammate being able to provide for their family.

CFL Hall of Famer, and father of two professional athletes, Willard Reaves, talks to Jason about raising resilient kids, and the mindset he instilled in his boys, CFL player Jordan, and NHL player Ryan.

CFL Hall of Famer, and father of two professional athletes, Willard Reaves, talks to Jason about raising resilient kids, and the mindset he instilled in his boys, CFL player Jordan, and NHL player Ryan. 

Willard says he was never easy on his boys, and said it didn’t matter how big he was, he wasn’t going to let them win against him, and they were going to have to earn their victories, because in life, “nobody is going to let you win”.

Willard talks about his service to his community, as a member of law enforcement, and how he always knew he wanted to serve and give back to the community, and why, as a native of Arizona, he chose to stay in Winnipeg, and raise his kids there.

Jason and Willard talk about the personal standard Willard set for himself and for his children, and they touch on the topic of racism.  Willard  discusses not just having a voice, but how he chose to use his voice. 

Laugh along, as you listen to Willard explain how getting down the hallway in the Reaves’ home was its own lesson in resiliency.


In this episode, former NHL player of 969 games, Cory Sarich, discusses with Jason how being traded from Buffalo, a team in a traditional hockey market, to the Tampa Bay Lightning, a team not on ANYONE'S radar, actually turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

In this episode, former NHL player of 969 games, Cory Sarich, discusses with Jason how being traded from Buffalo, a team in a traditional hockey market, to the Tampa Bay Lightning, a team not on ANYONE’S radar, actually turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

Cory talks to Jason about what it took to go from, in his words, a “bottom feeder” team, to winning the Stanley Cup in just 4 years.  He explains how changing the “Culture” was absolutely essential, not just within the locker room, but with the entire staff.

Jason and Cory discuss the different personalities and mindsets of the coaches Cory had and what he had to do to adjust to the various coaching styles. 

One coach in particular was very confrontational and liked to play “mind games”. Cory talks about having to confront this coach for the sake of his own sanity and performance. Listen to the full episode to find out who the coach was and what exactly Cory had to say to him.

In today's game, size is not a limiting factor like it once was. Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses, with most people identifying and working to improve that weak area in their game.

But what if your weakness is something you can’t control, like your height?  Your mindset becomes the most important part of your game.

Dean McAmmond was listed with the Prince Albert Raiders as a 13 year old, and after playing 4 years in the WHL he was drafted in the first round, 22nd overall, by the Chicago Blackhawks in the 1991 NHL draft. He played 996 games in his professional career as what (back then) would be considered a smaller player, and talks about how the game has changed since he played, and important areas of the game a smaller player needs to focus on.

Dean and Jason discuss the hockey term known as having a strong “engine” and the importance of not stifling the “fighter” that is naturally within each male.

Dean and Jason talk about how a person’s faith gives them a feeling of calmness and reassurance through difficult times, though Dean makes clear “God is not a Genie in a bottle” to give you a competitive advantage.

Hockey to Hell and Back is the title of Brady Leavold's aptly named podcast.

He’s been there done that. Seen things and done things most of us only see in movies. 

Brady isn’t proud of his choices, or his history, but he wouldn’t change it for anything – not even Jaime Benn’s career, as he says in this episode.

Leavold’s journey is HIS journey and because he literally HAS been to hell and back, he is now using his recovery and his message to help others.

There is grace, humility and guilt in Brady’s message. He’s not sure why he’s still here.

Why did he get to live when he tried so many times to die?

He doesn’t know the answer to that, but he is trying to use every day to become a better man, and to help others who might be struggling, or who might struggle in the future.

Hockey was his savior, his reaper, and then his salvation. The best game in the world has brought Brady Leavold full circle and I am honored to share his story and his message with you.

This is a powerful conversation about a very human topic.


In this bonus episode I get to go deep on my discussions Nathan Mackie EP.57, Chris Joseph EP.59 and Cristobal Huet EP.53.

Mackie is the current captain of the Salmon Arm Silverbacks and committed to Michigan State, but was 16 at the time of the interview and was looking forward to his rookie season in Salmon Arm. We speak about our work together during the interview.

Chris Joseph was a teammate of mine in Mannhiem, and one of the best people you could meet.  Tragically he is also the father of Jaxon Joseph, one of Humboldt Broncos who perished in the awful bus crash that shook us all. Chris shares his memories of Jaxon on the episode. So heart wrenching. 

Cristobal Huet, was also a Mannhiem teammate. He was a star NHL goaltender and the most fierce practice competitor I ever faced.  Cristobal grew up playing hockey in France and his story is very cool.


If you know the name, Trevor Gillies, then you probably instantly think "handlebars".

While in the NHL with the New York Islanders, Gillies was famous for his thick, black handlebar moustache.

Trevor was also famous for his willingness to get involved in the rough stuff. 

Gillies worked his way from juniors in the OHL, to the ECHL, to the AHL, and then to the NHL, because of his left hand and how he took care of his teammates.

He rarely said no to a fight, and always had a clear understanding of who he was as a player and what made him valuable to the team on and off the ice.

The career arc of Gillies is one you rarely see. 

After he made the NHL and stayed as a regular for over 2 seasons, Gilly worked his way back down the AHL, and all the way back to where he began in the East Coast league.

Trevor Gillies played and fought because he loved it. 

He wouldn’t listen to people telling him what he couldn’t do. He always went all in and bet on himself.

You are going to like my conversation with Trevor Gillies! Enjoy!

Big time heavy hitters in this group of 10 to reflect on! 

Check it out…

Tyler Shattock is now the head coach of a premier BCHL organization, but he was once a professional hockey player - and it wasn't too long ago.

Drafted 5th overall in the 2005 WHL draft to the Kamloops Blazers – Tyler Shattock was a prized prospect that earned himself a 4th round selection in the 2009 NHL Entry draft to the St. Louis Blues.

Shattock was never able to find his way to the NHL as a player and spent is pro career between the AHL and ECHL. Although Shattock’s career should be respected, it wasn’t what he wanted. 

And sometimes those circumstances result in a person who makes a great coach.

Tyler Shattock is only 33 years old, but is already in his 3rd season as a head coach with the Silverbacks, and his tenure has been a solid one.

In this episode Shattock discusses the lessons he learned from his pro career and how he prepares his players for the next level.

Enjoy my conversation with Tyler Shattock!

#BCHL #juniorhockey #hockeycoach

Brent Gilchrist is best remembered by his teammates.

Before I go any further, the above statement is a HUGE honor,

When you have earned the respect of your locker room you have succeeded as a hockey player.

Ask Brendan Shanahan or Steve Yzerman, or Chris Osgood about what Brent Gilchrist provided the Detroit Red Wings during their run to become Stanley Cup Champions in 1998 and they will tell you…




Brent Gilchrist put the team first and played through incredible pain and agonizing injections to wear the Red Wing jersey, until he tore his groin from the bone.

He made every Red Wing taller, stronger, and more resilient from his example.

Gilchrist shares where he learned why the team comes first, and why it matters.

Enjoy my conversation with 15 year NHL veteran, Brent Gilchrist.

Mike Needham grew up playing his minor hockey in Fort Saskatchewan, but ended up getting listed by the Kamloops Blazers.

And the Blazers were lucky to have him as he turned into a WHL star, scoring 59 goals and 125 points in only 60 games during his final season.

Needham also won the gold medal while representing Canada at the World Junior Championships that same season in 1990.

Mike Needham played in parts of two NHL seasons with the Pittsburgh Penguins and Dallas Stars from 1992 to 1994.

He also appeared in five games during the 1992 Stanley Cup Playoffs, for which he earned a Stanley Cup ring as a member of the Penguins.

Currently Mike sits as the Director of Development at Okanagan Hockey Academy in Penticton, BC.

Pierre Turgeon's career was amazing.
  • 154 points in 58 games for the Granby Bisons in 86-87
  • 1st overall in the 1987 NHL Entry Draft
  • Gold medal with Team Canada at the World Junior Championships in 1987 during the “Punch-up in Piestany”
  • NHL All-Star 5 times
  • Lady Byng Trophy winner
  • 515 Career Goals
  • 1327 Career Points
  • 97 Career Playoff Points
  • Captain of the Montreal Canadiens
  • Asst. Captain of the St. Louis Blues

We talk hockey, we talk about development, the mindset of goal scoring, who his best coach was, how to recover from mistakes, when they turned out the lights during the brawl against the Russians, his Hall of Fame status and much, much more!!!

Enjoy the conversation!

If you were born in the 50's or 60's or 70's and were a hockey fan you are probably quite familiar with the Sutter name.  

It was impossible not to be.

How do you not notice the Sutter’s when 6 brothers ALL played in the NHL at the SAME TIME for 5 seasons!

But if you are a younger player or new to the game, you may not know the amazing story and you NEED to know the story.

Hailing from a farm outside of Viking, Alberta with a population of about 1000, Duane Sutter was the middle brother of 7.

The 17th Overall selection of the New York Islanders in the 1979 Entry draft, Duane Sutter joined the team part way through the 79-80 season and never looked back.

4 years later, Duane had 4 Stanley Cup rings and was a major piece of one of the greatest dynasties in NHL history.

Duane played over 700 NHL games, collected 342 points and amassed 1333 career penalty minutes.

After his playing career was finished he joined the coaching ranks and that was where our paths crossed. Duane was the assistant coach for the Florida Panthers in my rookie NHL pro season.

Enjoy the conversation with Duane Sutter!

Scott Tinkler was one of the unsung guys who makes everything work in an NHL locker room.

Equipment managers are around the players more than anyone else involved with the team because they are always in the dressing room.

Unlike the physiotherapists and the massage therapists who players go to visit, the equipment guys are always around – they are part of the room, and therefore part of the team.

They know the players – the different personalities and their idiosyncrasies – better than anyone because they get to see everyone’s true colors. 

They hear all the stories. All the jokes. And all the jabs.

They also know what guys need and when they need it.

They intimately know the heartbeat of the team.

If you really want to know what the culture is like on a team, ask a seasoned equipment manager.

And Scott Tinkler was one of the best at what he did. 

He was the “glue” that held it all together.

In this episode we celebrate my friend Scott Tinkler and acknowledge the importance of the work they do.


Marty was a center piece of the biggest WHL trade in 1991

In Episode 90 I catch up with Marty Murray. 

Marty was a center piece of the biggest WHL trade in 1991. Goaltender, Trevor Kidd, was brought to Spokane from the Wheat Kings – 15 year old prized prospect Marty Murray, and veteran sniper Bobby House went the other way.

The trade was a pivotal moment for both franchises, as Spokane went on to win the Memorial Cup, and the Wheat Kings resurrected their place within the league, going from a last place team team to becoming dominant in the Marty Murray era.

I was supposed to to play with Marty in Spokane! He was such an amazing playmaker, and I would have loved the opportunity to be on his wing, so I feel I go the raw end of that deal! Haha!

Marty won 2 World Junior Championships with Canada, and in his second time at the illustrious tournament, he led the entire event in scoring! 

Murray went on to an impressive pro career that started in the NHL, turned into a minor league star, which led to a 3 year stint overseas, finally to return to the NHL as a regular at 26 years old.

Marty Murray was a LEGIT player everywhere he went and one of the games best examples of a great human being!

Everyone has a different path and Marty shares his journey with us!

Brooks Christiensen is the current GM of the Salmon Arm Silverbacks of the BCHL.

The BCHL is the top Junior A league in Canada in terms of moving athletes on to NCAA.

Recently, the BCHL has been looking to leave the National Junior A league and become a league of their own.

Brooks talks about this in detail and explains why he believes that is the best thing for the league and the benefits that come along with that.  

He also dives into the recruitment process and the struggles that COVID has brought along with it without players getting a chance to play, and the impact this has had on their athletes trying to get scholarships to the United States.

There is a lot of great stuff in this episode and tons of useful information for athletes to be aware of!

Enjoy the episode with Brooks Christiensen.

This was an incredibly powerful interview with my ex-teammate and 14 year NHL pro, Chris Joseph.

Chris is the father of Jaxon Joseph, who was a member of the Humbolt Broncos.
Jaxon passed away alongside 15 others in this horrific crash, on April 6th, 2018.

Chris talks openly and passionately about the passing of his son and the impact that an event like this has had on not only Chris’s life but all the friends, families, and communities affected by this accident.

Chris also dives into some key learnings and lessons that he encountered over his 14 year NHL career and brings up the importance of confidence and preparedness.

He reflects on his time playing alongside Wayne Gretzky and the defending Stanley Cup champions, the Edmonton Oilers, and discusses what he wishes he had done differently.

This is a must-listen episode with Chris Joseph.

René Corbet is a retired NHL player , who during his career including for the Colorado Avalanche , Calgary Flames and Pittsburgh Penguins in the National Hockey League and the Adler Mannheim in the German league as well.

He is a Stanley Cup Champion and had the privilege’s of playing with NHL legends such as; 

Peter Forsberg, Joe Sakic, Mario Lemieux, Jari Kurri, Adam Foote, and that’s just to name a few.

Rene talks about his time as stall mates with the legendary Mario Lemieux, and what he told him a few weeks into the season.

Rene acknowledges the opportunities that he was given were not initially what he had pictured, but the outcome was far greater than he could have ever predicted.

From a 79 goal scorer in Junior, to a Stanley Cup champion as a role player, I bring you, my interview with Rene Corbet.

This weeks podcast is a special one. This week, I interviewed 16 year old Nathan Mackie.

Nathan is currently playing in the midget AAA league and has signed a letter of intent with the B.C.H.L’s Salmon Arm Silverbacks. 

What amazes me about Nathan is watching his growth over the past 6 months, and seeing how he has grown as a person and as a hockey player by working on certain skills that most athletes simply are not training. 

Let me explain. 

About 6 months ago Nathan became one of my personal clients in the up my hockey coaching program.  

About a month into working together Nathan thought he was going to play a year of midget AA because he was told he was not good enough to play on the AAA team. Deep down he knew he was more than capable of playing on that team. 

In this interview we go over what Nathan did in a 6 month span that took him from being “not good enough” for midget AAA, to signing a letter of intent with a top notch Junior A team in the B.C.H.L. 

And I’ll give you a hint, it was not simply, work harder or lift more weights in the gym.

Enjoy this interview with my friend and client,  Nathan Mackie.

From "Pain Killer", by Brantt Myhres:

“Brantt Myhres wasn’t around for the birth of his daughter. Myhres had played for seven different NHL teams, and had made millions. He’d been suspended four times, all for drug use, and he had partied his way out of the league. By the time his daughter was born, he was penniless, sleeping on a friends couch, having been released from police custody just hours before. He had a choice of sticking around for the birth, or showing up for rehab. He went to rehab. For the fifth time.”

I knew Brantt. He was my teammate for a partial season in Spokane with the Chiefs. The Brantt I knew, I wanted to be like. He was big and strong and respected. And he could put the puck in the net too. He liked to laugh and make people laugh. He liked the ladies and the ladies liked him. He was a good guy and a good teammate.

I never knew the Brantt I read about in the book. I didn’t want to be like the Brantt in the book. It was a hard read for me at times, as it will be for you. It made me ask “Why?”, and “How?” a hundred times. But as much as you want to slap Brantt silly for the poor choices he was making, we root for him. You have to. And he comes out on the otherside.

From everything to nothing to a man filled with purpose. After 13 years sober, Brantt will never stop fighting for sobriety and being the best father he can. 

This is an interesting conversation with my friend and ex-teammate Brantt Myhres. I hope you enjoy it.

Andy Sutton
Brad May played hard.

He loved the battle areas – in front of the net, in the corners, and at the lines. Every time May had the opportunity to use his will against his opponent he would rise to the challenge. Many times in Brad’s 1000 game career, that challenge also meant dropping the gloves. Brad it loved every time.

Many players will say (even the heavyweight enforcers), that they didn’t like to fight. That it messed with their heads and the anxiety it caused was mentally exhausting. Brad doesn’t feel that way – he LOVED it. In fact he says that is one of the things he misses most about not playing  – he can’t fight.

However, May was much more than a fighter. He was a great teammate, always a fan favorite and an ambassador of the game where ever he played. 

He also scored some  big goals.

Brad May scored 131 goals in his career, but none was more memorable for hockey fans than  the one scored on April 24th, 1993. 

May was playing for the Buffalo Sabres and they were deadlocked in overtime against the heavily favored Boston Bruins. It was the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, and the Sabres had miraculously won the first 3 games. They needed one more to end it. They couldn’t give the Bruins any life.

And Brad May ended any hopes of a comeback. May received a pass cutting through the neutral zone from Sabre legend, Pat LaFontaine. Brad beat Bruins Hall of Famer, Ray Bourque 1 on 1, put a sick move on the tender, Andy Moog, and ended it.

The goal was beautiful and important, but the call by Rick Jeanneret was what made it even more special. Jeanneret screamed “Mayday!” again and again after Brad scored and the entire scene will be forever etched in our minds.

And with one goal, “Mayday” become his nickname for life. 

Mayday is a very charismatic guy with tons of stories. We revisit the famous goal, but we also talk about his humble beginnings to first round draft pick, the grind of establishing himself as an NHL regular, and the Stanley Cup with the Ducks in  2007.

In 2004 when Cristobal Huet joined our team in Mannheim he was hard to beat. Really hard.

Every practice was the same. He would do everything in his power to stop EVERY shot. And some of the time he did.

I always admired Huet’s competitiveness. Sure he was athletic, and technically sound, but his greatest attribute was his attitude. He would not stop trying! And he did it all with a smile on his face.

Attitude means everything when it comes to high performance and playing on a team. Your attitude affects your engagement, your own level effort and your commitment, but it also has an impact on those around you. Cristobal elevated our entire team every practice.

Huet played almost 300 NHL games and was one of the best goalies in the game for a couple seasons. He played for the Kings, Canadiens, Capitals and Blackhawks, where he won the greatest trophy on earth in 2010.

From humble beginnings in France, where Cristobal got his first goalie coach at 22 years of age,  Huet was the second player ever from that country to wear an NHL jersey.

We discuss it all… enjoy the conversation.

Nolan Pratt had a 9 season, 592 game NHL career as a "stay at home" defenseman. If we count play-off games, Nolan totaled 630 career games. And Nolan scored a grand total of 9 goals.

Nolan shares how at the start of his career, while in the AHL, he battled with his identity. He wanted to be offensive. He thought scoring points was the only way to get noticed and receive the opportunity in the NHL that he wanted.

However, not everyone is meant to score points at the NHL level and Pratt decided to embrace what he was – a solid, dependable defender.

That choice not only solidified himself as a NHL regular, it also earned him two time Stanley Cup Championships. The first in 2001 with the Colorado Avalanche and the second in 2004 with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Nolan got in to coaching after his retirement as a player and found joy in supporting players in the AHL make their way to the Show or establish successful pro careers. Pratter earned his promotion to the NHL for the 2016-2017 season with the Colorado Avalanche and he hasn’t looked back since.

Nolan is responsible for the defensive pairings and the penalty kill units, where Colorado has been among the league leaders the past couple seasons.

In this conversation we cover a lot of great topics, like how to parent an aspiring athlete with big dreams, coachability, passion, the skill of self-assessment and much, much more.

Enjoy the conversation with my former Bantam teammate, Nolan Pratt.

After an incredible season 1, and 50 episodes with some of the most influential people in the hockey world, we are taking a look at some of the highlights along the way.

Kevin Pedersen – NHL scout for the Arizona Coyotes – Dives into what it takes to get to where you want to go.  

Kevin Sawyer – Ex NHL heavy weight and Winnipeg Jets Broadcaster – Shares a story from when he was coached by one of the most successful coaches in NHL history, Mike Babcock.

Daniel Briere – Undersized NHL all-star – Danny Briere shares his secret about what he did off the ice, to finally crack an NHL lineup and set him up for an incredible career.

Brad Larsen – Assistant coach for the Columbus Blue Jackets –  The importance of accountability and leadership if you want to succeed at all levels

Trevor Letowski – Head Coach of the Windsor Spitfire – How to overcome slumps and confidence issues

Enjoy this episode and if haven’t heard episodes 1 to 5, they are worth you revisiting them!

Ryan Johnson
Rhett Warrener and I first crossed paths as members of Canada’s national U17 team. We were both coming off successful 16 year old seasons in the WHL, (Rhett was in Saskatoon and I was with Spokane) when Hockey Canada gave us the phone call that we were chosen to travel to Japan and play in the Pacific Cup

We were reunited at the 94 draft, when Rhett was chosen 26th overall and I went 5 picks later, both to the Florida Panthers. 

We were reunited again in 96 when we represented Canada at the World Junior Championship held in Boston, where we won the gold. We even appear together on the back of one of Rhett’s hockey cards, celebrating after we won the final! 

I joined Rhett and the Panthers for their epic 1996 playoff run, after my season with Spokane ended. I was a “black ace”, but Rhett was playing regular minutes. The Panthers made it to the final, but got swept by Colorado. 

Terry Ryan is someone you want to be around. He makes you smile. He makes you laugh. And he makes you feel good. I always enjoy my conversations with TR and I know you will enjoy this one.

Terry was a child prodigy when it came to hockey. He grew early, he understood the game, he could finish, and at 14 years old – he also found out he could fight. 

Being a child star comes with a lot of pressures. Some just and some unjust, but you have to learn to navigate them either way and Terry discusses how he learned to manage and the steps his family took to provide the best opportunity for him. 

Ryan went on to a WHL career that included a 50 goal season as a 17 year-old with the Tri-City Americans, which earned him an 8th overall selection to the Montreal Canadians in the 1995 NHL Entry Draft. 

Along with a big signing bonus came big expectations and Terry was ready to tackle the NHL, but a change in management with the Canadians came with new bosses who didn’t see him in quite the same lens. 

Terry ran into problems with his coach, Michel Therrien, in the AHL and he couldn’t find his way out of the doghouse. Terry ended up losing his identity as a goal scorer and began fighting more than his 50 goal hands should have been.  

We reflect on Terry’s career. Some things he is proud of and some things he would have changed. But his journey has brought him to where he is today and he is proud of the man and the father he has become. That’s hockey, and that’s life. Keep learning and keep growing. 

Thank you Terry for sharing your story. Enjoy the conversation. 

If you want to reach out to Terry and get a personalized edition of his second book “Fights, Film, & Folklore” reach out on Instagram @terryryan2020 

Tyler Wright was the 12th overall draft pick in the 1991 NHL entry draft to the Edmonton Oilers. Wright was a junior star, scoring 50 goals one season for the Swift Current Broncos...

Tyler’s success with the Bronco’s earned him consecutive spots on Canada’s World Junior team, where he earned the gold in 1993 in Sweden, after failing to medal in 1992. As if often the case with junior stars, Tyler’s junior pedigree did not initially transfer to the pro level. Wright struggled to find his way for his first 3 seasons and ended up in a trade for a 7th round pick to Pittsburgh – and Wright was in a deep dark hole.

We discuss this time in Tyler’s career, how he got through it, and the one pivotal person who helped him believe in himself again.

Wright ended up playing over 600 NHL games and had a very successful career. Now he spends his time trying to  identify what 18 year old hockey players will be able to become NHL contributors as the Director of Scouting for the Edmonton Oilers. 

Learn what Tyler looks for in a player, how he manages draft day and his favorite question to ask his area scouts when discussing a prospect.

Enjoy the conversation!

Rick Vaive was a sniper and a top prospect. Going into his draft in 1979, he was coming off a 76 goal season. He also spent 199 minutes in the penalty box that year. His season was good enough to get him drafted 5th overall by the Vancouver Canucks. It was also a sign of things to come in the NHL...

Rick Vaive loved scoring goals and was wired to compete. His competitive nature and hatred of losing often got him in the penalty box, but it also earned him the Maple Leaf captaincy at 22 years of age.  He was the new face of the franchise and it was his team lead. Rick thrived under the spotlight and produced 3 consecutive 50 goal seasons in the 80’s and to this day is still the only player in Maple Leaf history to score 50 goals in a season. The personal success was bittersweet. Unfortunately, the team did not have the success the fans or Rick wanted during this time. 

The chaos surrounding a Harold Ballard team, the lack of team success and some personal struggles, meant Vaive’s career was not without controversy. He had the captaincy taken away from him after missing a morning skate and was later traded to the Blackhawks.  

We get into some of his career, but I left most of that for those who will read his book. Rick released his autobiography, “Catch 22”, earlier this year, where he chronicles his career and the ups and downs in it.  

In this conversation we talk about coaching, parenting, mindset, competitiveness and character… and a lot of other things. I think you will see a side Rick Vaive you haven’t seen before, enjoy. 

Willie O'Ree is a legend. Mr. O'Ree is a legend that until all too recently I wasn't aware of. I regret having to admit that. My ignorance to one of the games greatest stories is not something I am proud of, but I am grateful for knowing it now. And I am also grateful to have spent an hour with this incredible human being...

Willie O’Ree broke the NHL color barrier in 1958, when he suited up with the Boston Bruins for a weekend set against the Montreal Canadians. There were only 6 teams in the league at that point. Only 120 players in the world got to call themselves NHL’ers each season – Willie O’Ree was one of them – he was an NHL’er.

What captivated me most about this discussion was Willie’s personality. He was engaging, contemplative, and sharp, and he’s 85 years young. So many experiences are wrapped up those 85 years and I did my best to try and capture some lessons while we honored the past.

The history of the game is something we should take more pride in as a hockey culture. Understanding those who came before us, their accomplishments and their struggles, can only strengthen our love affair with the sport.

O’Ree had a such a passion for hockey that he overcome great odds and unimaginable adversity to live out his dream and wear an NHL jersey. 21 years of professional hockey to his credit, and he did it all without the use of his right eye! The story gets even better too, but I’ll let you hear it from Willie himself.

Sport is about people, and Willie O’Ree is a person whose story we should all know. We should all have conversations with our players and our children about Willie. 

Enjoy my conversation with one of the game’s greatest gentleman, Mr. Willie O’Ree.

David Quinn is a straight shooter. He knows hockey. He also knows people. And he believes that if you take care of the person, the hockey player will thrive. It’s a coaching philosophy that is gaining popularity in the sport – some are just better at it than others. David Quinn has been doing it his entire career. ..

The head coach of the New York Rangers also has a sternness about him that lets you know he means business. He balances this sternness with a sense of approachability that makes him easy to talk to. David Quinn didn’t give me canned answers to my questions. He didn’t fill me up with cliches.  

We had a conversation. 

David Quinn’s humility shone through in this interview. Here was the head coach of New York Rangers talking shop with someone he’s never met, and making it feel like we’ve done this many times before.  

I bet his players know they can walk through his office door, or ask him a question on the ice at any time… but they also know they better be prepared to hear a straight and honest answer and it might be something they don’t want to hear. 

That’s called integrity. David Quinn is prepared to have the tough conversations. 

There are so many lessons contained within this interview I don’t where to start if I wanted to summarize them. 

Enjoy this candid conversation with one of NHL’s newest coaches… he also happens to be one of the most respected. 

Not many players can say their first NHL training camp happened at 28 years old, but Derek Ryan can. Derek’s road to the NHL was not typical. It was so far from typical you might think it was made up. However, that is one of my favorite things about sports… it’s real ...

Derek never got drafted. 

Derek never signed as free agent out of junior. 

He played Canadian University hockey for 4 years. 

Doc played 3 seasons in a mediocre Austrian league. 

Then he moved to Sweden for 1 year. 

Then signed a 2-way NHL contract at 28 years old. 

Derek recently signed a 3 year contract for over 9 million dollars with the Calgary Flames. 

You can’t make this stuff up! 

Lots of lessons in this one and you will hear some familiar themes: professionalism, trust, character, relationships, mental toughness, perseverance. 

Dane Jackson was a what some might call a journeyman pro hockey player. He was drafted in the 3rd round by the Canucks and went on to play 671 AHL games 45 NHL games with 8 different teams. He wore a letter (C or an A) on 5 of those teams and was recognized as a leader throughout his career...

Dane took the role of leader seriously. He knew what it took to be a professional – consistency, preparation, integrity… and HE MADE THOSE AROUND HIM BETTER. 

True leaders lift others up and Dane had a remarkable ability to do just that. In this episode we uncover just how valuable his presence was to other aspiring players toward the end of his playing career.

When you have a 600 game NHL veteran,  reflecting on their career saying, “I wanted to be like Dane Jackson,” you know you have a special individual on your hands.

After his retirement Dane entered the coaching ranks and has been a part of the staff at University of North Dakota, his alma mater, for the past 15 seasons. He loves giving back to those who want to be better and in this episode we talk about all the intangible “human” traits that make you a better hockey player.

When I originally requested this interview, my main motivation was to untangle some of the controversy of the Mitchell Miller saga. Miller was playing for Jackson at UND prior to his release from the program. Although we do touch on Mitchell, this interview turned out to be much much more than that.

Dane Jackson is a class act. He is a leader. He also happens to be a great coach and role model.

I am honored to have him on the pod.

Enjoy this fantastic guide on how to be a better leader, teammate, and high performer.  

David Quinn’s humility shone through in this interview. Here was the head coach of New York Rangers talking shop with someone he’s never met, and making it feel like we’ve done this many times before.  

I bet his players know they can walk through his office door, or ask him a question on the ice at any time… but they also know they better be prepared to hear a straight and honest answer and it might be something they don’t want to hear. 

That’s called integrity. David Quinn is prepared to have the tough conversations. 

There are so many lessons contained within this interview I don’t where to start if I wanted to summarize them. 

Enjoy this candid conversation with one of NHL’s newest coaches… he also happens to be one of the most respected. 

I don’t have the space to list all the accomplishments of Jarome Iginla. “First ballot Hall of Famer”, is the one accolade that sums up his career perfectly. In my opinion, he was also the greatest power forward of his era...

1554 NHL regular season games

81 NHL play-off games

625 career goals

1300 career points

1 Art Ross 

2 Rocket Richard’s

2 Memorial Cups

2 Olympic Gold Medals

1 World Championship

1 World Junior Championship

1 win away from a Stanley Cup

Like I said, we could go on and on about what Iggy accomplished on the ice, but Jarome was also a Hall of Famer off the ice.

Character, class, integrity, leadership, and professionalism are all apt adjectives for Jarome. He was a leader of men and also a leader in the community. 

For all you hockey players out there who are looking for a role model – on and off the ice – pick Iggy. He treats people right, he’s humble, he’s grateful, he’s gritty and he was a fierce competitor. He is the exact type of person you want to build a franchise around and model your game after.

The Calgary Flames and their fans were blessed to have him for 15 seasons. NHL fans everywhere were blessed to watch him suit up for 20 seasons.

In this interview we discuss the evolution of Jarome Iginla – from player, to star, to captain, to father, to coach.

Enjoy the conversation.

When Ken Reid called me and asked if I’d like to be a part of his new book called “One To Remember”, I wasn’t sure what to say. Ken wanted to tell the stories of various players who scored a grand total of one NHL goal in their careers...

I liked the idea, but a piece of me didn’t want to deal go down that road. 

Telling the story about my one NHL goal would require me to admit there should have been more and perhaps have to explain why I underachieved. 

For me, my one goal has always been an example of failure. Failure to have the career I dreamed of. Failure to step into my potential as a player. Failure to figure out how to become an NHL regular. 

But working on the book with Ken helped to change that a little bit for me.  

He made me recognize what a huge accomplishment ONE goal is. Scoring a goal in the NHL has only been done by 5000 other humans… ever. So regardless of what could have been, might have been, or should have been, I did score a goal in the greatest league in the world.  

That goal represents pints of blood, buckets of sweat and pools of tears that were donated to its pursuit. Countless hours on busses, at the rink and riding the bike invested in the chase for more. But for some of us, there was only one and that “ONE To Remember” can never be taken from us. 

Thank you Ken for reminding me that my goal against Ron Hextall and the Philadelphia Flyers is something to be proud of, not something to look at with embarrassment. 

This a great conversation with one of the nicest guys in the game. Ken Reid is a grinder, a professional, and he knows how to treat people. He also knows how to tell a pretty damn good story! 

 There are lots of parallels we can take from Ken’s journey to the mountain top… intention, coachability, accountability and practice. Want to be good at something? Grab those 4 traits and I like your chances. 

Please enjoy my interview with Mr. Ken Reid. 

I am sitting at my desk trying to write an episode description for myself and it's weird. I have been looking at my keyboard for a while now, and not sure how to do this. Perhaps I should begin with how it came to be...

Nick Konarowski is a Maple Leaf fan, a sports memorabilia collector, and a fan of Up My Hockey. He was also starting his own podcast called “Jersey Stories” when he asked me if I’d be willing to interview for it. Apparently, my first game with the Maple Leafs was also his first game watching the Maple Leafs live, so it seemed appropriate for us to talk.

Nick conducted a great interview and I enjoyed being his guest. However, prior to releasing my episode, Nick’s employer thought “Jersey Stories” might be a conflict of interest and asked him to stop producing the podcast. So that left him with my episode in the can and one that would never be heard. 

We came up with the idea that I should use it as an episode for Up My Hockey.

Once I got past my hesitation and resistance to publish a personal episode, I concluded that it made sense and I had to get over my own insecurities. Since my story is the reason why this podcast exists, I realized it deserved to be told. 

Nick and I get into all the good stuff… Spokane, my draft year, my draft day and the CRAZY Cliff Fletcher story, World Junior gold, my trades, pro hockey and a whole lot more. We also finish with three stories about my favorite pieces of memorabilia that I enjoyed sharing.

There is also a story about a horse. I’m shaking my head just thinking about it.

I hope you enjoy my story… this in the story of Jason Podollan.

If you look up Jarred Smithson on HockeyDB, you’ll probably notice something pretty quickly – Jarred never scored a lot of goals. He never had more than 12 in a season as a pro and topped out at 14 in junior...

He wasn’t drafted in bantam. 

He wasn’t drafted by an NHL team either. Twice he was passed over. 

But he did play 606 games in the best league in the world.

Smithson went on to play 10 straight seasons in the NHL after breaking through as a 26-year-old with the Nashville Predators. 

Some younger athletes might be asking how he did it? Most of them think only the super skilled players that score all the goals and get all the points go on to the glory of the NHL. But that’s just not true, and you see it time and time again. 

Smithson played 600 games in the NHL because he embraced a role, and he did it well. 

He perfected his face-offs. He played with energy. He hit. He knew how to play defense and be reliable in his own end. His coach could trust him. He killed penalties.  He would defend his teammates. He was a good teammate and well-liked in the dressing room. 

This is not to say Jerred wasn’t skilled – you must be incredibly good at all aspects of your game to play regular minutes at that level – but Smithson never tried to be something his coach didn’t want him to be. He knew his role and he filled that role with pride and to the best of his ability.

This conversation is filled with lessons. Perseverance. Belief. Passion. Coachability. Accountability. Resilience. I know you’ll enjoy it.

Dampy Brar, former pro-hockey player and co-founder of Apna Hockey was recently named the winner of the 2020 Willie O'Ree Community Hero Award at the NHL Award's Banquet...

Dampy also happens to be a member of the “Up My Hockey – Parent Group” I host on Facebook.  

The Parent Group is a private group dedicated to hockey families all over North America and designed to be the ultimate hockey resource for parents to successfully navigate the journey of their aspiring players. 

One of my habits within the group, is to personally welcome new members by greeting them on Messenger. When I messaged Dampy, his name got my attention – I had never met a “Dampy” before – but I was also curious about his profile picture. He was wearing hockey gear and clearly looked like a pro or junior player. 

I almost never asked him, but my curious nature got the best of me, and I asked if he played pro before. We ended up having a short conversation over Messenger and it was eventually unveiled that he won the Willie O’Ree Community Hero Award (moral of the story – be curious and interested about the people you meet!). 

I quickly invited Dampy for an interview and he graciously accepted. I am so thankful for our fateful encounter. Hearing the stories directly from hockey ambassadors like Dampy, who are tirelessly dedicating their energy towards our youth athletes and growing the diversity of the game is powerful. 

Black, brown, yellow, white, Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, Sikh, boy, girl, straight or gay… hockey is a game for everyone. Diversity is a strength, but right now it is a weakness in our sport. We collectively need to make it more accessible and more inclusive to all. 

Dampy’s organization, Apna Hockey, has a mandate to increase participation and social change in hockey within the South Asian community across Canada. Apna hockey ensures South Asian players have access to mentorship and hockey programs in major cities across Canada.  

Dampy is doing his part to diversify hockey, and by listening to this conversation you are doing your part to promote hockey’s evolution. Understanding the struggles, and successes of people from backgrounds different than our own, allows us to connect on a human level. Greater awareness equals greater understanding and empathy.  

It means we can all be a part of the cultural shift to end racism. And if we can make our hockey arenas a safe and inclusive place for all, we are off to an amazing start. 

So without further ado, I bring you my conversation with Dampy Brar, hosted live in the Up My Hockey – Parent Group. 

Enjoy the conversation. 

Bruce Boudreau is a lot of things: a Memorial Cup Champion, an NHL second rounder, an AHL scoring champion, and a former Toronto Maple Leaf. He is also a Jack Adams Award winner (voted best coach in the NHL), with 14 seasons as an NHL head coach under his belt, and one of the highest winning percentages in NHL history. Bruce is also a great guy...

When The Coaches Site reached out to me and asked if I would be a part of their Virtual Coaches Summit this year I was excited and honored. They wanted me to interview an NHL head boss, and I knew exactly who I wanted to reach out to. I played for Bruce with the Lowell Lock Monsters, way back in the 1999-2000 season. He was a rookie coach in the AHL, and I was his leading scorer that year and I thought it would be great to catch up with him. And in typical Bruce Boudreau fashion, he agreed to make the time to talk with me. 

That’s Bruce – he has time for people. He has time for his players. He cares about the people around him. And in my opinion, that is what makes him a great coach. 

We cover a lot in this conversation. From his playing days and the lessons he learned as a player, to his start in coaching and his journey to the NHL.  

The Coaches Site called this interview, “Lessons Learned During a Lifetime of Hockey”, and it is a perfectly accurate title. But I chose to call it, “The Coach You Wished You Played For”, because from a player’s perspective, that’s exactly who he was. He was honest, and straight forward. He was passionate, and he cared. He wasn’t perfect and he was the first to admit it. He was a real person doing the best he could, and that made him respectable and likeable and he earned our trust. 

Bruce still coaches the same way. Like any high performer with longevity, he has evolved and grown and become better at his craft, but he is still Bruce. He is still the man that is friendly, warm and honest, and someone you would want to invite over for dinner. He just also happens to have 567 wins in the NHL. 

I hope you enjoy my conversation with Bruce Boudreau. 

Dennis Maruk scored 66 goals in 65 games with the London Knights. It earned a 21st overall selection in the 1975 NHL Draft by the California Seals. At 5’8”, 155 pounds, he surprised management and earned a spot on the Seals as a 19-year-old. Not only did he make the team, but he scored 30 goals, finished second in team scoring, and finished third in voting for the Calder Trophy, the NHL’s Rookie of the Year Award...

The Seals moved to Cleveland and became the Barons in 76-77 season, but that didn’t slow Maruk down, as he scored 78 points in 80 games and led the team in scoring. 

Maruk continued to be a very solid producer and ended up getting traded to the Washington Capitals at the beginning of the 1978 season. With the Capitals he ended up having his monster seasons. 

He scored 50 goals in 80 games in 80-81 season and then followed that up with 60 goals and 136 points the following year. 

Maruk ended that season 4th in the NHL points race. The names in front of him were Gretzky, Mike Bossy, Peter Stastny. The names behind him were Brian Trottier, Denis Savard, and Marcel Dionne. 

Maruk is one of 20 players in the history of the NHL to score 60 goals. So why haven’t you heard of him? 

We discuss all that and more as we uncover one games forgotten stars

Todd Warriner was initially best known as an NHL player, but now many recognize him as broadcaster and analyst with Sportsnet.

At the OHL level, Todd was a force. After a fantastic rookie campaign at 16 years old, he netted 41 goals in only 50 games for the Windsor Spitfires in his draft year. His stat line, excellent skating ability and competitive nature earned him the 4th overall selection by the Quebec Nordiques, in the 1992 entry draft. However, many thought (including Todd and his agent) that he going to go 1st. We get into that incredible story on the episode. 

Todd would never play a game for the Nords though as he was a piece of a blockbuster trade in 1994 that sent Mats Sundin to the Leafs in return for Wendal Clark. 

But before he got traded to the Leafs, Quebec management suggested he play with the Canadian Men’s Olympic team. It was the 1993-94 season and the Olympics were being held in Lillehamer. Todd made the choice to join the team, and he chronicles that teams rise to an Olymypic silver medal.  

Warriner went on to play for 6 NHL teams (Leafs, Ligthning, Coyotes, Canucks, Flyers, Predators) racking up 453 games. Todd also spent time in Europe, experiencing time in Finland, Switzerland and Germany. 

We hear some great stories in this episode, including how he got his nickname “One-touch” in his rookie year in the NHL and also some stern advice from coach Pat Burns. 

Todd had some tech problems so we had to cut this interview short, so consider it Part 1. 

Please enjoy, Todd Warriner. 

Dave Scatchard would not allow anything to stop him. He was going to play in the NHL, and that was that. Time after time Dave’s resolve and commitment was tested. And time after time he answered the bell...

Like his first season away from home at 16, when he wasn’t being fed, wasn’t being played, and was being bullied by the veteran’s. But he fought the urge to go home and found a way to play in the league. 

Or, when he managed to will his way onto the Portland Winterhawks at 17 and overcome a bout with mono mid-season to finally earn a spot on the top line come playoffs along with a second round selection in the 1994 draft. 

Or when he had heel surgery in the 1997 off-season, not allowing him to skate until 3 weeks before training camp, but he found a way to make the Canucks as 21-year old. 

Dave always showed up and always found a way to go harder than anyone else. 

Following the advice of Tim Hunter, Scatchard left no doubt when it came to his work ethic, his conditioning, or his resolve. And it worked. 

Scatch earned 659 NHL games with the Canucks, Islanders, Bruins, Coyotes, Predators and Blues and he is rightfully proud of every single one of them. A lot of people never thought he’d play a game. 

But play he did, and in 2002-2003 he even outscored Alexei Yashin to lead the Islanders in goals with 27.  

Dave, now a personal high performance coach says “confidence is found in taking action.” At one point in the conversation he even grabs a white board to diagram how every time we expand our comfort zone we expand the belief in our capabilities. Scatchard grew his internal belief system to a point where he believed no obstacle was too high, too strong, or too big. 

Dave tells such detailed stories that we weren’t able to cover everything in this episode. We didn’t even touch on the greatest adversity he faced and eventually overcame – post-concussion syndrome.  

We will save that for Part 2. Until then, be inspired and enjoy part 1 with Dave Scatchard. 

Only one team can win a championship. At the Major Junior Level in the CHL, 60 teams currently compete every season for the Memorial Cup. That means 59 organizations aren’t happy at the end of the season , making one of the toughest trophies in sports to win...

Tyson Nash raised the Memorial Cup 3 times in 4 years with the Kamloops Blazers 1992, 1994, and 1995 – a stretch of dominance never seen prior and probably never seen again. 


Winning is hard. Making the NHL is hard. And Tyson Nash was able to accomplish both. 


Tyson did not have an easy path to the Show. He was overlooked in his first year of NHL draft eligibility, and he did not get taken until the 11th round his second time through, when the Canucks took him at 247. 


Nash already played with a chip on his shoulder and this gave him even more fuel. He set out to prove that these guys were wrong – that he did belong and that he could contribute. 


Nash made his dream come true, playing 6 seasons in the NHL from 1999 to 2006 with the St. Louis Blues and the Phoenix Coyotes. Nash’s agitator style earned him a lot of enemies along the way. He was considered one of hockey’s most hated players during his time in the NHL, but he knew what his job was, and he did to the best of his ability. 

If you had to pick one word to describe Nash I think “competitor” would be appropriate. He fought for everything he got. The road wasn’t easy. His job wasn’t easy. But he had a dream and he had a commitment to that dream that was so firm, nothing was going to get in his way. 


In this episode learn: 

  • How to turn rejection into fuel 
  • What Nash believes are the key ingredients to building a championship team 
  • The sage advice his dad gave him before he arrived in St. Louis 
  • How to get noticed and make people remember you 

Lots of great stories in this episode and lots of good laughs. Please enjoy the ride with Tyson Nash. 

This conversation with Nathan LaFayette was not what I had planned. We never talked about his experience getting drafted 65th overall in 1991 by St. Louis. We never discussed the gold medal he won as a member of Canada’s 1993 World Junior Team...

I never asked him what it was like to play with legendary leader Mark Messier in New York.

Nathan had a tumultuous pro hockey career. He was traded 3 times, always bouncing between the minors and the Show, and he battled injuries and concussions, which ultimately ended his pro hockey career.

But the conversation ended up centering on race and diversity and his experience as a BIPOC athlete in a predominately white environment.

This conversation was poignant. Voices like Nathan’s need to be heard and I am grateful he chose to share his experience and perspective. The time for change is upon us and to move forward as a sport and a society we need to acknowledge the past, address the present and collaborate on the best avenues to move forward in the future.

Nathan is currently SVP and Chief Insurance Officer at BCAA and has been in leadership executive positions since he left the game. He understands how high-performance cultures are created and built. He knows what promotes human thriving. Inclusive, diverse, and safe work places – whether those fields of play are office buildings or arenas -provide the highest engagement rates and therefore the greatest potential for team and individual success.

Marginalizing people because of their skin color, sexual orientation, place of birth, or religious affiliation is not something we can tolerate on an individual or a collective level anymore.

It starts with conversations like this one. We can’t all be at the NHL round table with the likes of Evander Kane, Gary Bettman, Matt Dumba and Nathan LaFayette, but we can do our part to engage in open discussion, to be empathetic, and to support change that is long overdue.

Enjoy this episode. I hope it inspires you to share it and to spark discussions in your own inner circle.

This week our guest on the Up My Hockey Podcast is legendary NHL goaltender Chris Osgood. Osgood played 744 regular season games, winning 401 of them, which places him as the 13th winningest goalie all-time in the NHL. He is also 8th in all-time play-off wins...

Osgood won 3 Stanley Cups in total, including 2 as a starter in 1998 and 2008. He almost won his fourth Cup during a fantastic run in 2009, but his Red Wings lost game 6 & 7 to the Pittsburgh Penguins to fall 1 goal short. 

We discuss a ton of interesting stuff in this 90 minutes like: 

  • What’s it like to get pulled in your first NHL start 
  • How to bounce back after making a huge mistake 
  • The most important aspects of preparation for a goaltender and why they are critical to your confidence 
  • What it was like to fight is idol Patrick Roy at center ice in the 98 play-offs 
  • And what player has the best backhand in hockey 
  • Why mistakes can teach you or they can break you 
  • And the benefit of being able to consciously choose your response to events 

Ozzy was an awesome guest and I hope you enjoy the interview as much as I did. 

Aaron Volpatti wasn’t dreaming of the NHL at 17, he was trying to make the Revelstoke Grizzlies, his local Junior B hockey team. In his NHL draft year, Aaron was living at home, graduating from high school, and hanging with his buddies. He had his sights set on hopefully making the Vernon Vipers of the BCHL as an 18-year-old...

Volpatti ended up wearing the jersey of the Vancouver Canucks and Washington Capitals, but after seeing Aaron score 7 goals in first 112 games in the BCHL you probably wouldn’t have made that bet and neither would have Aaron.

But as we have heard before on this podcast, Aaron’s greatest adversity turned out to be his life’s greatest gift. At the conclusion of his second season with the Vernon Vipers that adversity struck. Aaron was involved in an awful accident at a team bush party that left him with 2nd and 3rd degree burns to over 40% of his body.

He was told he would never play hockey again.

But after one phone call (and we discuss why this phone call was so impactful for Aaron) Aaron made other plans – he was going to be in the line-up for the season opener come September.

And after 6 weeks in hospital, 4 weeks in a wheelchair, another month unable to walk and two more major setbacks called kidney stones and an appendicitis, Aaron was dressed to play on opening night. He WILLED it to happen.

During that process he proved to himself that he could accomplish anything. He grew his resilience, his confidence, and his mindset.

In this interview we discuss 

  • The possibilities that arise when we assume we generally only operate at 40% of our capabilities 
  • The perspective shift Aaron made that changed the meaning of the physical pain he was feeling, which gave him mental strength and the ability to recover faster 
  • How having big dreams requires us to explore and change the personal standards we set for ourselves 
  • How Aaron used visualization to prepare him for playing in the NHL, at a time when we he never even had a pro contract 
  • How Aaron used DELIBERATE PRACTICE at 24 years old, to become a player that scored more goals and points in his senior year at Brown than he did in his previous 3 seasons combined 

Aaron Volpatti earned his way into the greatest league in the world. He used adversity as opportunities to grow and compete and to overcome. He had clear visions for what he wanted to accomplish and had a plan for how he was going to make that happen. Aaron was prepared to do things that others weren’t willing to do. 

Aaron’s story is one of possibility – one of evolution and one you will find very inspiring. 

Standing at 5'9, Steve Passmore always found a way to dominate the crease. He was always a true competitor and ended up playing over 12 seasons of professional hockey, 92 of those in the National Hockey League...

Steve played hockey across the entire globe.  He is a true professional and someone that I always remember to be one of the fiercest competitors I ever had the pleasure of playing with.

Over the span of the interview, you really get a feel for who Steve was as a teammate and who he is as a person.

He was always laughing and having a good time, but when it came to game time, he would completely shift gears.  This is such an important part of the game.  No when it is time to have fun, and when it is time to focus and dial in.

Throughout this podcast we discuss what it was like being a back up goaltender in the NHL.

How to be ready when you get the call to start or if the starter goes down with an injury.

And how to stay positive if you are not necessarily in the position that you want to be.

This is such an incredible interview and I hope everyone can take something valuable and tangible, and apply it to their lives and careers.


After 6 seasons in the minors with only 20 NHL games, one wouldn't generally expect for a 28 year old player to make a full time jump to the NHL, but that's what Nathan did...

An 11th Round draft pick of the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1992, Dempsey was never a high-profile prospect, and was just hoping to crack the AHL coming out of junior. 

 In his rookie pro season, Nathan took advantage of injuries to some veteran players and solidified his spot with the St. John’s Leafs. Where 3 seasons later he would be the team captain.  

At that time Nathan had his sights set on bigger things, he was ready to become an NHL’er but…  

Solid season after solid season was not enough to get Nathan the opportunity, he felt he deserved.  Nathan continued to grow his game, and his leadership skills and made one huge decision that allowed him to become an NHL regular with the Chicago Blackhawks in 2002. 

After finally making his NHL dreams come true and enjoying his third season in the Show, Nathan experienced symptoms of early onset Parkinson’s while playing with the LA Kings and Nathan had new challenges to face.  

Although he wasn’t officially diagnosed until year later, Nathan felt it affecting his game and was forced to retire from the sport in 2008 

Leaving the game behind was not an option for Nathan and he now serves as the Campus Director at Vimy Ridge Hockey in Edmonton, Alberta where he is supporting young athletes develop their love and skills for the sport. 

This is a very raw and real conversation and we cover so many great things like: 

  • Why finding your identity and not caring about the judgement of others is so important 
  • How Nathan defines resilience and why he believes you can practice it 
  • The key decision that Nathan “called” selfish that got him his NHL job 
  • Why working on your strengths might be more important than working on your weaknesses 
  • How the proper mindset made a difference for Nathan as a player and how it continues to make a difference for him as person. 

Many thanks to my old teammate Nathan Dempsey for spending time with me and being so open and vulnerable about so many things. I believe this is a very inspiring episode and one that you will enjoy.  

It was great to catch up with my friend and teammate, Steve Kelly. Steve and I grew up in the same neck of the woods, are the same birth year, and both played in the WHL. We ended up playing in Mannheim together in the DEL toward the ends of our careers...

We also have something else in common. We never had the NHL career we would have liked.

Steve did collect 149 NHL games by the time he was done, playing for the Oilers, Lightning, Devils, Kings and Wild. And Steve did win the Stanley Cup with the Devils in 2000.

But after being chosen with the 6th overall selection by the Edmonton Oilers in the 1995 NHL draft, he had his sights set on a long NHL career.

We discuss Steve’s journey throughout his career, and cover a lot of great topics like:

– How Steve went from undrafted in the WHL Bantam draft to 6th Overall in the world

– What Steve thinks is the most important aspect of youth hockey (that many coaches often forget)

– Learn the VERY WORST way to celebrate your first NHL goal

– What Steve said to Lou Lamoriello that got him traded the very next day

– Intangibles other than talent and skill that can determine your hockey destiny

– The key thing we both wish we would have had early in our careers but was missing

– An amazing story about Bruce Boudreau that shows why his players love him.

This is an honest conversation, with an authentic man, a great teammate, and a good friend.

Remember, hockey is about people first, not the stick and the puck.

I hosted this LIVE in my Facebook “Up My Hockey – Parent Group” If you are a supportive hockey parent, would love front row access to my guests, think mindset is an important part of high performance, and would enjoy an engaged community of like-minded people from across North America, the group will be perfect for you! See you there!

Nik Antropov has a path to the NHL like I have never heard before. From a small town in Kazakhstan, Antropov had never even heard of the NHL until he was around the age of 13-14! His goal growing up was simply to play on the top team in his local town.. Yet alone being a 10th overall draft pick to the one and only, Toronto Maple Leafs...

Niks career was plagued with injury, so pairing that with the overwhelming expectations placed on him from the fans and media of Toronto, Niks journey was certainly no walk in the park..

However through hard work, determination and self belief, he found a way to keep overcome the scrutiny, language barriers and injuries to end up wearing a letter on his journey for the Toronto Maple Leafs before his time there came to an end.

Nik now works with Russian players as a skills consultant to help them make the transition to the NHL.

This is such an interesting episode on the up my hockey podcast, and I hope you all listen, enjoy and share this episode!

Today we did something new – I recorded the episode LIVE inside my Facebook Group dedicated to supportive hockey parents! Members were able to listen live AND ask questions. The group is called Up My Hockey – Parent Group and you if you would like direct access to my amazing guests, please join us!...

Mark Ferner played junior for the Kamloops Blazers before he embarked on his 15-year professional career. Mark spent time in the AHL, IHL, DEL and also the NHL, with the Buffalo Sabres, Washington Capitals, Anaheim Mighty Ducks, and Detroit Red Wings.

Upon his retirement as a player, Mark started a new career as coach for the expansion Vancouver Giants of the WHL. Coaching would take Mark back to Kamloops where he would get his first head coaching job with the Blazers. Mark went on to coach for the next 16 years with 9 seasons in the BCHL with the Vernon Vipers where he was also the GM.

For those of you that aren’t familiar with the BCHL, it is the top Junior A league in Canada and is an NCAA Div I hockey factory.

With the Vipers Mark accomplished something few coaches can claim, he led his team to 3 consecutive National Championships, winning twice.

Most recently Mark served as amateur scout for the Buffalo Sabres.

I first met Mark after a trade to the Los Angeles Kings. The Kings initially assigned me to their IHL affiliate in Long Beach. Mark was 11 years older than me, a veteran, and a leader. He made me feel comfortable and a part of things while I was with the Ice Dogs.

Little did either of us know that 7 years later Mark would be coaching a Junior A team in my hometown. But that’s the way hockey works… it’s a

small world… and reminds you constantly that being a good human matters. Once your career is done all you have left are the memories and the relationships you made along the way.

Mark brings a treasure trove of experience with him as a guest. He has seen it all and knows what it takes to succeed in the sport. He also happens to tell a great story.

Enjoy the episode.

Peter Worrell was kind enough to join us today on Up My Hockey. Big Pete was not hard to find on the ice. He towered at 6’7” and weighed in at around 260 pounds. He played physical, using both his size and his fists to his advantage. And in case someone missed him visually, you could usually hear him, as he enjoyed some good trash talk as well...

Pete is a Caribbean-Canadian moving from Barbados with his parents to the Montreal area at the age of 3. Due to the color of his skin, Pete encountered prejudice and general stupidity throughout his time in minor hockey, junior hockey and in the professional ranks. 

We cover race at the beginning of this episode because we needed to. We wanted to. And it should be a discussion you have with your family and friends as well. 

I didn’t want the topic of race to overshadow Peter’s amazing career but we both felt it was important to discuss issues with hockey that are very relevant in the context of the protests occurring around the world.  

Our sport is for everyone. Collectively we need to stand together and change the standards and expectations for those who are involved. From the coaches, to the players, to management, to the fans… hockey should be a place where your ethnicity is celebrated, not denigrated. 

In this episode Peter tells an emotional story about an incident that occurred during his second NHL game with Craig Berube. I believe it highlights what needs to improve and what’s so amazing about the people that play our sport. I’ll leave the details for the episode, but you don’t want to miss it.  

Peter Worrell wasn’t just a goon – he was a hockey player. He won a Memorial Cup and produced offensively averaging an impressive point per game average while amassing 495 penalty minutes in the process. 

He led the NHL in penalty minutes one season as well, ending the 2001-02 campaign with 100 more PIM’s than second place. But he also averaged 9 minutes of ice time per game, which was much higher than most big men of his era. He could be trusted to make a play and get in on the forecheck and be responsible in his own end. 

Big Pete ended his career with 391 NHL games, 19 goals, and 1554 penalty minutes. I’d say that’s a pretty damn good job for a young man from Barbados, wouldn’t you?!?!? Hockey is for everyone. 

Enjoy the episode 

Kevin Weekes and I first met back in 1991 in Kamloops BC, at the one of the best Bantam tournaments in the country (Kamloops International Bantam Ice Hockey Tournament), best known by its acronym KIBHIT...

At the time I was playing for the stacked Sherwood Park Flyers and more than halfway through the season we had not lost a game, but the Toronto Red Wings and Kevin Weekes were the talk of the tournament. 

The Toronto Red Wings traveled a long way to be there and we heard they were a powerhouse, but they also had a lightning quick BLACK goalie that drew much of the conversation.

Before the tournament even started, it seemed destined for us to meet in the final, and both teams lived up to the hype. Although I managed to get one past Kevin on a partial breakaway in the second period, it was not enough, and Toronto ended up besting us 4-3. Mr. Weekes and the Red Wings handed us our first loss of the season and they took the tournament title.

Given the current social climate and the BLM movement, this conversation with Kevin provided me the opportunity to revisit the KIBHIT tournament and my personal reaction at 14 years old to Kevin being black. Like many other players from the rural west, I had never competed against a black player to that point. A hockey rink was not a place where I was familiar with seeing people of color. 

My acknowledgment and curiosity were innocent and innocuous. Unfortunately for Kevin, that wasn’t always the case.

Kevin drew attention. 

The color of Kevin’s skin made him different – so did his athleticism in the net. He was damn good. 

People were always watching. Most were supporters, some were detractors, but Kevin knew from an early age that he was ALWAYS auditioning.

This conversation allowed me to contemplate the gravity of what it might have been like to be Kevin Weekes as a hockey player. His experience was unquestionably much different than mine. 

Not only did he play the most isolating position in the sport, but he was often the only black player in the locker room.

Years after KIBHIT, Kevin and I got drafted by the Florida Panthers where we became teammates and friends and I got to witness Kevin daily and he earned my respect and my admiration.

Kevin has earned respect throughout our great game from all levels of the sport. He is respected for is reverence and knowledge of the game. For is journeyman 11 year NHL career with 7 different teams and his pivotal contribution to the Carolina Hurricanes run to the 2002 Stanley Cup final. He is respected for being a trailblazer and the first black analyst in the history of the sport and his ability as a broadcaster to connect the fans to the person behind their favorite player. For his dedication and commitment to constantly improve and master his craft. And most importantly, Kevin is respected because he respects EVERYONE he meets. In my opinion Kevin Weekes has a Master’s Degree in what he calls, Human 101.
Given recent events surrounding our game and the events surrounding our country, Kevin has been a rational and experienced voice on the need for change within the game. He is campaigning for greater access, for greater inclusion, and for people of all colors and backgrounds to be welcomed and celebrated within the sport. 
Kevin says the NHL should be about putting the best people available in the room and I agree. 

And whether you are able to make it to the greatest league in the world, hockey should be a safe place for everyone who plays it at all levels.

Let us take a class in Human 101… please enjoy my conversation with Kevin Weekes.

I try to find guests with unique stories and a depth of knowledge and experience. Stacy Roest checks all the boxes...

When you have played, coached, been responsible for developing NHL ready prospects, worked as a GM at the pro level, and are raising a son who wants to be an NHL player, you have perspective and experience!

Our guest for episode 21 is Stacy Roest and he has done it all.

As an undersized junior talent, Roest played for the Medicine Hat Tigers, where he produced 3 consecutive 100 point campaigns. His offense was not rewarded by NHL scouts however and he was passed over in the Entry draft. But that didn’t stop him.

Stacy preserved though and was awarded an NHL deal by the Detroit Red Wings. Roest went on to play 3 seasons in the AHL with Adirondack where he developed his game and matured as a player. He led Adirondack with 92 points during the 97-98 season and was rewarded with roster spot on the big club the following year.

Roest went on to play 244 NHL games with the Wings and the Wild and then spent 9 seasons in Switzerland playing for Rapperwil-Jona.

Upon retirement, Roest joined the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2013-14 as Director of Player Development and the Asst. Coach of the Lightning’s affiliate Syracuse Crunch. Roest held these positions until 2019-20 when he was promoted to GM of the Crunch and the Asst. GM of the Lightning.

It is not often someone has experienced the game at such a high level from so many influential and developmental positions. I also respect that Stacy is supporting his son, Austin, an Everett Silvertip prospect, navigate his own journey.

I love his story and I love his philosophy as we both share a passion for the importance of mindset.

Stacey wears many hats and we are lucky to have him on the podcast!

Bryan and I first crossed paths after the Spokane Chiefs and the Medicine Hat Tigers made a blockbuster trade in 1992. The teams exchanged 5 players each and Caber became a teammate and a friend over the next 2.5 seasons...

Caber was drafted 40th overall in 1993 by the New York Islanders and played his first game for the Isles in 1995. He was their captain two years later. McCabe ended up wearing the jersey of 6 NHL teams: Islanders, Canucks, Blackhawks, Maple Leafs, Panthers and Rangers.

Bryan McCabe was one of the leagues top defenseman in the 2000’s. His cumulative stats from 01-07 sit alongside names like Lidstrom, Zubov, Chara, and Niedermayer.

He was a two-time Canadian World Junior Gold medalist, NHL All-Star, Canadian Olympian, gold medal winner at the World Championships and captain of the Islanders and Panthers and assistant captain of the Leafs.

With over 1100 NHL games and now the Director of Player Development for the Florida Panthers, McCabe brings a wealth of experience and perspective to the podcast.

McCabe is an open book. He is a father and a husband and man who cares about his players and his teammates like family. He even shares a story that brings him to tears from his time in Toronto.

If you are a Toronto Maple Leaf fan this episode is a must listen. Bryan covers the joys and the perils of playing in Toronto…he would know. From being celebrated as hero, to being booed on every possession McCabe saw the best and worst of Leaf fans.

This interview is candid, raw and honest and one that you will enjoy.

Meet my friend and teammate… Bryan McCabe.

It was 1992 and I had just turned 16 years old. I joined the Spokane Chiefs for the last two games of their regular season in Victoria. I was the youngest on the team, didn't know anyone and I walked nervously into the dressing room...

And that was when Jared Bednar walked over and introduced himself.

Bedsy was 19 and he made me comfortable. He talked to me on the bus, invited me to play cards and hang out with the guys. He made me feel like I was welcomed and that I belonged.

Jared understood that he could make a difference.

Unfortunately, Jared got traded early into the next season. We never kept in touch and he probably never knew the impact he had on me.I never forgot him but I also never had the chance to thank him.

I got the opportunity in this episode.

If you are reading this, you know Jared Bednar is the head coach of the Colorado Avalanche. You probably know he was nominated for the Jack Adams Award as the top coach in the NHL in 2018. You also might know he won a Kelley Cup in the ECHL and the Calder Cup in the AHL as a coach… 

…but you might not know what type of person Jared Bednar is.

In this episode of Up My Hockey you get to hear from Jared Bednar the player, the coach, AND the person.

Bedsy is one of the best people you’ll ever have the pleasure of meeting. He is approachable, relaxed, caring, warm and loves a good laugh – traits you might not automatically attribute to a NHL head coach of one the league’s top teams. 

I believe that is what makes him great. 

He embodies what is right about the new style of coaching in the NHL. He cares about his players because he understands they are people first. As he says in the interview “happy players are better players.” He wants his team to be happy.

Sounds simple doesn’t it?

The NHL is a league about results and often coaches get caught focusing on the wins and losses. But when a coach like Bednar can place emphasis on the well being and growth of the people (players) first, often the results will take care of themselves.

I welcome you to get to know Jared Bednar.

Up My Hockey loves the journey of becoming a hockey player and Ryan Strome was willing to share his...

As a former 8th overall selection to the Barrie Colts in the OHL draft and a 5th overall selection by the New York Islanders in the 2011 NHL draft, Ryan was on the fast track to NHL fame. Things were expected from him and he was earmarked as a “can’t miss” prospect.

Watching Strome play big minutes this season for the Rangers during a high stake’s playoff drive, it would appear things have naturally worked out as expected. You might think it was smooth sailing for Ryan.

However, when we look a little closer, things were not easy at all. He was a fourth liner as a 16-year-old in junior. He wasn’t identified as a top 40 player for the U-18 program with Hockey Canada. He was the last player selected in the top 10 of the 2011 draft to play an NHL game. He was sent to the minors – a few times. He was a healthy scratch. He was traded twice in 15 months.

Bu through it all Ryan leaned on the support of his family and the foundation of principles that were instilled in him, and he preserved. He did the right thing. He worked hard. He focused on getting better and doing the best he could where he was at. He stayed humble and was willing to learn.

And now he is a top 6 forward, plays 20 minutes a night and is a crucial component of the New York Rangers.

His journey made Strome ready for this opportunity and the opportunity was ready for him.

Not one player knows where their road will take them, but we all have our own path.

To all you parents and players out there, be patient with your path. We all want it to happen right now but most of the time, as Ryan put it, “the obstacle is the way”.

This is the story of Ryan Strome

Ken Holland is one of those names that needs no introduction, but I will give it a try. Recognized as one of the "good guys" in the game, Ken was great to talk with. He knows player development, he knows the value of leadership and he knows how to build a winner. He knows a lot about every aspect of the game! So it was hard for me to decide what to talk with him about...

Holland has been around the game of hockey his entire life. Originally a goalie with the Medicine Hat Tigers, Holland was selected 188th overall by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 1975 NHL entry draft.

Holland went on to play 8 seasons of pro hockey and played 4 games in the NHL – one for the Hartford Whalers, and 3 for the Detroit Red Wings.

After his retirement Ken had a brief job as a door to door vacuum salesman, before landing a job as an area scout for the Red Wings. In 1997 Holland made his ascension up the ranks complete and was named executive Vice President and General Manager. 

Ken helped comprise one of the most potent teams of a generation with the Wings. Aided by drafting two cornerstones in Zetterberg and Datsyuk (round 7 and round 6) Holland gained a reputation as one of the most successful general managers in the NHL. Under his leadership as GM the Red Wings won the Central Division ten times, the regular-season Conference title five times, the President’s trophy four times, and the Stanley Cup three times. Holland and the Wings also lost in Stanley Cup final twice during his tenure.

Ken is now just finishing his first season as GM of the Edmonton Oilers and signed a 5 year contract in late spring 2019.

We cover a lot in this episode. Mostly we focus on the draft, and player development and the road to the show. But we do come off the rails a few time and go down some rabbit holes!

I know you will enjoy this one… it’s not often you get an NHL GM to donate 90 minutes of his time!


Being an agent or running an agency is a competitive business. After all, there are only about 700 NHL jobs and a lot of agents vying for a piece of that pie...

To make it as an agent most people think they have to be great at contract negotiations and endorsement deals. Sure these things are tools of the trade, but these skills don’t do you much good if you don’t have any players to represent. 

You need to identify and evaluate talent, recruit the talent, and then develop the talent.

That’s where a guy like our guest Joe Oliver comes in. Joe is a partner at KO Sports Inc, a boutique agency that represents the likes of Dylan Larkin, Jacub Trouba, Brandon Dubinsky, and Kyle Turris and Ryan Johansen. Joe and KO Sports is focused on recruiting a small number of high quality players, building strong relationships with the players and their families and supporting their journey and development throughout their careers.

Joe, and his decades of experience in the game and is recognized as one of the top talent scouts in western Canada. Joe is also a “straight forward, handshake, eye contact, go for a beer” kind of guy which makes him likable and good at recruiting. And he is passionate about helping his players develop as people and becoming the best athletes they can be.

This episode is all about the world of player representation and it is a conversation I had a blast with. 


Scott Nichol is the underdog - although he would never agree to that term because he never saw himself that way. Scott just went to work, everyday. He got the job done...

His story is one to fall in love with. At 5’8 and 175 pounds, Scott never intimidated with his size, but he would outwork anyone and he would never back down.

Scott was high scoring junior player that earned him the distinction as being the third last player drafted in the NHL draft of 1993. He fought to stay in the line-up at the AHL level. He battled through injuries. He kept showing up.

After 7 years of pro hockey and only playing in 5 NHL contests, Scott made it big and earned a spot on the Calgary Flames at the age 25. Many called him a career minor-leaguer up until that point. It was a story even Scott had a hard time believing.

Scott Nichol went on to play almost 700 NHL until he retired at 37 years old. He was a great teammate and character guy in the locker room. He knew his role, he embraced it, and he did it well. 

Scott’s improbable story is wonderful to hear and motivating to listen to. Everyone has their own path and their way. It’s up to the athlete to find their way.

After retirement Nichol got involved in player development and is helping young Predator prospects realize their dream of becoming NHL players, just like he did.

Learn from Scott’s story and how he is helping athlete today, in this can’t miss episode!

With the Bantam draft just a few days behind us, I would like to introduce you to my latest guest Ryan Guenter...

For the last decade, Ryan has been heavily involved in the scouting process for various Western Hockey League teams.  He broke into the scouting industry as a foot soldier with the Chiliwack Bruins, and made his way to being a head scout a few years later.

Ryan is currently a scout for the Winnipeg Ice and is a mental performance consultant. 

What makes Ryan so unique, is that he brings an educational aspect to the table that gives him a unique, but powerful perspective on the scouting industry.

Ryan wrote his thesis on the intangible player characteristics that scouts consider when scouting draft eligible aspects.

We dive into what this means, and how scouts are now looking beyond skating, stick handling and shooting abilities.

I hope you are ready to gain a whole new perspective on the power of the mind and the impact it has on the sport of hockey!

Enjoy episode 14, on Up My Hockey.

Wade Redden was one of the top Defenseman in the best league on earth for the better part of the 2000's. He was drafted 2nd overall to the New York Islanders before getting traded to the Ottawa Senators where he spent the majority of his career...

Wade was the assistant captain on a team that made it to the Stanley Cup finals and had one of the most decorated careers out of anyone over the span of a decade.

Wade was 2 time NHL All-Star, 2 time World Junior Championship gold medalist, 1 time World Cup gold medalist, 1 time World Championship silver medalist, 1 time Western Hockey League champion and a former Team Canada Olympian.

However, this interview gets very interesting as Wade opens up about what happened towards the end of his career and how he found his way to the minor leagues, even after such a successful 10 years in the National Hockey League.

This goes to show that no matter who you were in the past, no spot is guaranteed..

Enjoy episode 13 on the Up My Hockey podcast.

David Michaud is the President and Part Owner of the Port Alberni Bulldogs. He had a very interesting Journey through the hockey world and makes for an incredible perspective on different avenues through the hockey ranks...

David began as the color commentator for the Kelowna Rockets, worked in one of the largest agencies in the sports world, and then made his way to the Junior ranks where he began with the Penticton Vees and ended where he is today, with the Port Alberni Bulldogs.

Enjoy the interview as David provides an incredible perspective on the game of hockey.

Dave is the current assistant coach of the New York Rangers in the National Hockey League...

Dave has an incredible story about his journey to the NHL and what led him to becoming a coach, as he takes us on his journey where he decided to go the Junior A to College Hockey route, one that may not get enough credit. 

We dive into the challenges Dave faced throughout his career, as well as the successes.

He discusses what it was like playing on a star studded team with players like Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Luc Robitaille, Brian Leetch, Adam Graves and the list goes on and on.

Dave provides incredible insight to the game of hockey and I am sure he will bring you tons of value and advice as well.

Enjoy and stay safe everyone!

What an amazing conversation from the other side of the game! Unfortunately referees are generally overlooked, underappreciated, or completely disrespected...

Retention rates of young officials are down because the environment our arenas create for them are less than hospitable.

Tom Kowal tells his story on this episode: his journey from minor hockey to the WHL, the AHL and then the 20 year career in the NHL. 

Tom is now responsible for developing the young referees in the WHL.

This interview was an adventure for me. Tom peeled back the curtain on what it’s like to wear the black and white stripes. 

Tom Kowal provides some insight into what it is like being a referee and how he handled coaches, players and parents who were always hyper critical of them.

Enjoy some awesome stories from Ex- NHL referee, Tom Kowal.

Tom Laidlaw is an ex-NHL player, agent, broadcaster, and most recently a contestant on the show," Survivor"!...

Tom played 10 seasons in the National Hockey League, split between the New York Rangers and the Los Angeles Kings, including being the assistant captain on the Kings while Wayne Gretzky played there.

Tom now has created his own brand called True Grit, where he motivates and inspires people to be their best everyday.

Tom believes “old school” virtues like discipline, commitment, and character are more valuable in today’s world than ever before and we discuss why they are keys to a high performance life.

Tom also shares incredible stories about NHL legends like Phil Espisito and Wayne Gretzky, and provides great insight to what it was like being an NHL agent.

I hope you all enjoy this episode of Up My Hockey, with Tom Laidlaw.

In this episode I speak with Dusty Imoo, an goaltending acclaimed goalie coach referred to by some as a "guru"...

If you are a goalie, a goalie parent, or a coach, this is a must listen! And for everyone else, don’t be fooled, there is much to gain from this interview!

Dusty Imoo is the current goaltending coach for the Kunlun Redstar of the KHL, Russia’s top league.

Dusty was previously an NHL goalie development coach for the Winnipeg Jets and the L.A Kings.

He was the goaltending coach for Michael Hutchinson, Connor Hellybuck, Jack Campbell and many more during his stint coaching in the NHL.

During this interview, we go over some incredible topics such as mindset, relationship building, building your identity and he discusses his relationship with numerous goalies he has worked with. 

One thing that I love about Dusty, is that his philosophy Dusty’s is to coach the person instead of coaching the player.

I hope everyone enjoys todays episode with Dusty Imoo!

When you are leading the NHL in defensemen scoring one season, and playing in the AHL the next, how do you handle something like that? Or maybe a better question is, how could that ever happen?...

As a player, you think you have finally established yourself in NHL as a scoring defenseman, only to have it shatter before your eyes.  

As a player you NEVER know when adversity may strike. You need to prepare for it now, because it is coming. 

Andy Delmore is a good friend who vulnerably dives into his story. He shares his successes and obstacles and his perspective on navigating the National Hockey League, and life in general.

We have had coaches from the National Hockey League and the top Junior leagues in North America on the Up My Hockey podcast. In this episode of Up My Hockey, we go across the pond, to get the inside story on what it is like to be a head coach in what is said to be the second best hockey league in the world, the KHL...

The KHL is Russia’s top pro hockey league, and today we talk with David Nemirovski, an Ex-NHL’er, and the current head coach for the Torpedo Nizhny Novogorod.

David played just under 100 National Hockey League games, before taking his professional career to Finland, then over to Russia.

During this interview he dives into what it is like playing and coaching in Russia, and discusses the different strategies that he implements to get the most out his players in order to maximize their potential.

I hope you enjoy this episode on Up My Hockey podcast, with David, Nemirovski.

Trevor Letowski played over 600 NHL games. He then went on to coaching at numerous levels, but primarily in the Ontario Hockey League, where he has found incredible success...

He is currently the head coach of the legendary, Windsor Spitfires and his team is currently ranked top 10 in the CHL.

Trevor dives into what it takes to be successful in today’s hockey world, and how it has changed from when he was a player.

He provides incredible insight to the changing climates, as he is currently heavily involved, and has fully embraced the new coaching style of relationships, leadership and compassion for the players.

I hope you enjoy the podcast and learn a thing or two from the incredibly well respected, Trevor Letowski.

Brad Larsen is the Assistant coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets. I played PeeWee with Brad back when we were kids, and we carried on to be teammates and friends...

Brad is one of the hardest workers I have ever played with, one of the best leaders, teammates and defines work ethic.

He was not always the most talented, but he knew the game and how to get the very most out of his skill set.

Brad is a perfect example of someone kids should look up to and stride to be like in the hockey world.

I hope you enjoy this episode, on Up My Hockey.

This is an incredible discussion with the NHL legend, Daniel Briere. Briere found success at every level of his hockey career, but this did not come without its fair share of challenges...

At his peek, he clocked in at 5’9, and weighed less than 190 pounds.

Scouts, coaches, GM’s and practically everyone else always doubted his ability to compete at the next level due to being undersized.

Through special techniques, mental strategies mindset tricks, Briere dominated at each level which stemmed to the NHL, as he shared the responsibilities of Captain for the Buffalo Sabres.

There is a lot to be learnt here!


Jason Podollan sits down with Kevin Sawyer, current broadcaster for the Winnipeg Jets, and ex NHL tough guy...

Kevin Sawyer is a Canadian former National Hockey League right winger who played in the National Hockey League (NHL) with the St. Louis Blues, Boston Bruins, Phoenix Coyotes, and Mighty Ducks of Anaheim.  His road to the NHL was not typical, as he discusses how difficult it was for him to be cut from his home town Junior B hockey club at the age of 16. 

Through grit, toughness, and perseverance, Kevin slowly climbed the ranks in the eyes of the scouts, and earned every second of ice time in the NHL.

This is an amazing story about hard work and determination, and a great insight to the mind of one of the toughest guys to ever play the game. 

Kevin was not the biggest guy on the ice, but he describes his fighting style as a “tactician” of fighting.  He prides himself on being able to outsmart his opponent, opposed to out boxing them.

Over his 10 year pro career, Kevin ended up fighting NHL legends such as Tie Domi, Chris Simon, Stu Grimson, Bob Probert, Georges Laraque and many, many more. 

I hope you enjoy this episode of Up My Hockey, with Kevin Sawyer.

Jason Podollan sits down with Arizona Coyotes Western Scout, Kevin Pedersen. Kevin is in responsible for the WHL, BCHL, and the AJHL...

Kevin is in the room for the conversation at draft time with the Arizona Coyotes, and presents some incredible insight on what skills they truly value when considering selecting a player.

Some of his answers may surprise you, as he provides valuable insight into the importance of character, hard work and consistency!

I hope you enjoy this episode of Up My Hockey, with Kevin Pedersen.

Show Notes:

:37 – Kevin Pedersen Introduction

2:57 – Podcast begins

3:27 – Kevin discusses his personal career playing hockey

9:21 – Kevin discusses his first opportunity coaching

14:40 – Kevin discusses the importance of relationships in hockey and life

20:00 – Jason talks about how important it is to maintain a proper image

20:40 – Kevin talks about finding your passion

23:20 – Kevin discusses the BRICK tournament

27:15 – Kevin touches on how difficult it can be to predict future NHL players at a young age

30:18 – Kevin discusses how just because you are the best player at 10, does not mean you will be the best player at 13,14,15

31:54 – Kevin discusses Hockey B.C and his time in hockey B.C

36:30 – Kevin discusses how he knows where to look for the top prospects

37:40 – Kevin discusses the importance of consistency

39:00 – Jason touches the importance of always being prepared before stepping on the ice.

40:00 – Kevin sheds insight on how scouts value mistakes for different players

44:30 – Kevin discusses his first chance to start scouting

46:50 – Kevin shares his story about working for free, to earn his spot as a western hockey league scout

53:00 – Kevin talks about how important your character is from the perspective of a scout at any level.

54:15 – Jason mentions the importance of always having high character if you want to make the next level.

54:40 – Kevin states how scouts do call players coaches before drafting them

59:30 – Kevin quotes “how you do anything, is how you do everything”.  Attention to detail in everything.

101:30 – Kevin and Jason discuss what makes a good leader.

103:00 – Jason provides insight on how to standout to become a better athlete.

108:15 – Kevin provides his insight on what the “best path” is for hockey players to take. WHL? Or College?

113:05 – The importance of opportunity and different paths players take

117:05 – The biggest mistake players make when deciding either WHL or College

120:55 – Kevin discusses what “Character” and “Mental Toughness” mean to him

123:30 – Jason discusses how you can improve your character and mental toughness

126:25 – Jason talks about his trade from Florida to Toronto and how important mental toughness was.

129:27 – Kevin talks about the benefits to speaking to a councilor or getting professional help

131:30 – Jason discusses being proactive with your character.

About Jason

Jason Podollan teaches the mindset skills and techniques that have made him a 31st overall draft pick and Gold medal winner for Canada at the World Junior Championships.  Once one of the highest rated prospects in North America, Jason foresaw a 1000 game NHL career, but fell short of his dreams in playing only 49.  Jason now interviews various hockey involved guests, from coaches, players, ex players, scouts, agents etc. to dissect their experiences in order to help those still playing the game.

Jason Podollan

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