An ode to hockey moms (almost) on Mother’s Day

Ken Campbell
Rachel Hunter

Hey guys, only two more shopping days until Mother’s Day on Sunday. I’ve always found a day at the spa works well. A driving lawnmower? Not so much.

With that in mind, here’s a tip of the cap to some of the memorable hockey moms I’ve dealt with, spoken to or read about over the course of my career:

Rachel Hunter: How many hockey players can say their mother appeared in the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue? Well, Liam Stewart of the Spokane Chiefs can. His mom, Rachel Hunter, is the New Zealand-born supermodel who was once married to crooner Rod Stewart. According to lore, it was Hunter who drove her son to all the early morning practices and tournaments. It would be interesting if Stewart, who is 19 and undrafted, ever became part of the Los Angeles Kings organization, since Kings center Jarret Stoll almost became his stepdad.

Bonnie Lindros: Perhaps the most maligned hockey mom of all-time, Bonnie took much of the abuse for the decisions the Lindros’s made as a family because until father Carl became Eric’s agent, she was the one on the front lines deflecting the criticism. Say what you will about Bonnie Lindros, but she was unwavering and unapologetic about wanting what was best for her son – both when he was drafted first overall by the Soo Greyhounds in the Ontario League and by the Quebec Nordiques in the NHL.

Pierrette Lemieux: When the snowdrifts in Laval would get too high for her sons to play hockey outside, Pierrette Lemieux would bring the game into her house. She would put shovelfuls of snow on her living room carpet and pack it down, turn off the heat in the house and leave the doors open so her three toddler sons could skate on the living room floor. It was hard on the carpets, but Mario Lemieux was able to pay for them to be replaced as an adult.

Grace Sutter: Known around Viking, Alta., as Gramma Grace, any woman who could work the dairy farm and raise six sons to play in the NHL deserves to be called Amazing Grace.

Cecilia Ward: Joel Ward’s father, Randell, died suddenly of an embolism when the Washington Capitals winger was just 13, leaving his mother to raise him and guide his hockey career. Cecilia Ward was a Barbados native who came to Canada as a nanny and worked her way through nursing school. In order to keep her son in hockey, she worked two nursing jobs and shuttled her son through minor hockey. “Sometimes she would just come home, scoop me up and take me to the game,” Ward said. “I would sometimes sleep at the hospital with her while she was working. She would find me a little bed on the side somewhere while she was working nights. In the morning she would take me home and drop me off at school and catch a nap before taking the evening shift.”

MaryJane Jackman: A single mother in rural British Columbia, MaryJane Jackman would often take her son to a hockey tournament and sleep in her car while her son stayed in the motel with another family. The sacrifices paid off when Barret Jackman made the NHL and won the Calder Trophy in 2003.

Linda Lafferty: Raising her sons in the most notorious housing project in Toronto was no easy task. One of Linda Lafferty’s son ended up in prison, the other in the NHL. Glen Metropolit played more than 400 NHL games and had one of the most unlikely NHL careers ever. When Glen was young and got out of line, all his mother had to do was threaten to take hockey away from him. He would ask if he could get spanked instead.

Colleen Howe: Anyone who has earned the term “Mrs. Hockey” is some kind of hockey mom. While Gordie Howe was playing in the NHL, Colleen raised three sons and a daughter. And when Mark and Marty became old enough to play pro hockey, Colleen played an integral part of the Houston Aeros of the WHA drafting them and having them play with Gordie. She was also the business manager for the family and founded the Detroit Jr. Red Wings.

Elizabeth Madden: Another player who grew up in Toronto’s housing projects, John Madden overcame it all to win three Stanley Cups and a Selke Trophy. Madden’s father left when John was young and raising him and his siblings was a task left for Elizabeth. Working as a bus driver, she would often drive her son to the rink in her bus.

All the hockey moms out there: To borrow a sentiment from Kevin Durant, “you’re the real MVPs.”