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Mark Stuart

Mark Stuart has a plus-2 rating in 69 games this season. (Getty Images)

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Mark Stuart has a plus-2 rating in 69 games this season. (Getty Images)

With Kevin Kennedy

I grew up in Rochester, Minnesota and I am the youngest of three boys in my family. We all played professional hockey and we owe a lot to a couple local coaches, Kirk Gill and Todd Lampman. Kirk Gill had three sons and my family had three boys and we were all the same age so we all grew up getting coached by him. We’d ride to the rink with him and he wasn’t just a good coach, he was a family friend, too.

Kirk and Todd’s kids also made it to professional hockey. Aaron Gill signed a contract with the San Jose Sharks and played a couple seasons in the AHL. Todd’s son, Bryce Lampman, was drafted by the New York Rangers in 2001 and is now playing in Germany. They were great, they knew the game well and they definitely brought a lot of guys up through the ranks. It seems like they coached forever.

I spent winters in the youth program and the summers with the ‘AAA’ Minnesota Blades travel team. The highlight of my minor hockey career happened when I was in peewee. We won the state tournament and I scored the overtime winner.

With both my brothers also playing hockey I remember my mom behind the wheel most of the time. She was always driving me around, she had the toughest job. My brothers and I were two years apart so we were all going different places. My mom didn’t grow up with the game, but she was a quick learner. She was good. She knew when to cheer us up and when to not say anything, especially after a bad game. She wasn’t very loud in the stands, but she was very nervous. I think she spent a lot of time outside of the arena if it was a close game. She couldn’t watch.

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