With Kevin Kennedy
I played hockey in Rochester, New York where I was born. My dad was a hockey coach so I was always around the rink growing up. He’s always been a big influence on me.
Looking back, there are so many good memories from minor hockey. I remember going to tournaments out of town felt like a vacation. The highlight for me was playing in the famous Quebec ‘AAA’ tournament in front of 10,000 people at Le Colisee. I was playing for the Rochester team, but for some reason we went as the Minnesota North Stars because they didn’t have representation or something. Shows you how old I am.
When we were growing up it wasn’t really about playing in the NHL, nobody I knew really made it. It was more just trying to get to college and as you get older just really an opportunity to keep playing. I had a great coach in high school named Al Vyverberg. He was a big influence on me - a great coach and a good guy as well.
When I was in high school I got recruited and I’m really happy I chose the route I did through college. At the time I wasn’t sure if I could make a career out of hockey so it was the right move for me. The chance to go to a university that cost $40,000 for free was too hard to pass up. I ended up going to Boston College and I took Sociology and Communications.
Off the rink I had little jobs like mowing lawns and other labor jobs as a teenager just to get a little spending money. The last job I had before hockey was when I was a bouncer at a bar for two nights. It didn’t really pan out. Sitting there waiting until 3:00 a.m. in the morning and trying to work out the next day really wasn’t for me. At the time, I didn’t really have the physique of a bouncer anyway.
Leading up to the draft I knew I was going to get picked at some point, I just wasn’t sure when. In 1996, the draft was actually in St. Louis and I ended up getting drafted in the first round by the Blues. My parents were there and I’ll never forget that day. It’s like a lifelong dream becoming a reality.
I signed in 1998 and made the team that year out of camp. My first game was also pretty cool because it was in Boston where I played in college the year before. That Blues team was awesome. We had a lot of guys I grew up watching such as Al MacInnis and Pierre Turgeon. Grant Fuhr was our goalie and Chris Pronger was on our team as well. In my first game I remember I was playing with Jim Campbell and Geoff Courtnall. Then I went to the Oilers and that was another great experience to play on a team with a history like Edmonton.