Before I Made It: Brad Stuart

The Hockey News
stuart

With Kevin Kennedy

I didn’t start playing hockey until I was about seven years old and still remember the day I came home and told my dad I wanted to play. This was back in my hometown of Rocky Mountain Top, Alberta, and a bunch of my friends were already playing and I felt left out. A couple of days after I spoke to my dad, he came home with a box full of hockey equipment and the rest is history.

One big minor hockey moment for me would be when we won the peewee ‘AA’ Provincials in Alberta. It was huge for us because we were such a small town and to do that was a big deal. I still remember there was a store that had a big banner hanging outside congratulating us. That was something I’ll always remember and I still have buddies back home from that team and we’ll still talk about it every once in a while.

I had two coaches that had a real positive impact on my career; Frank Walton and Henry Laroque. I still see them every now and then and I know that anybody who played for them, really benefited from their commitment to the game.

My hometown hockey program only went up to ‘AA’ so I had to leave when I was 14 to go play ‘AAA’ in Red Deer. I was pretty lucky because my grandparents lived out there so I just stayed with them and it was only about 45 minutes from my hometown. After that I went to Regina to play junior.

I had lots of different jobs growing up. I was a paperboy when I was 11 delivering the daily paper and that was a tough grind for sure. When I was 16 got a job at Husky Oil through their summer work program. Pretty much just 9-5 labour work, but I was able to save up some money.

Back then, I was into music and loved being outdoors, these days when I’m not playing hockey I’m really getting in to new tech stuff and I love working with computers. As I’ve gotten older I’ve also really gotten into cooking which has been fun.

I started really thinking that playing in the NHL was a possibility in my first year of junior when I would hear about scouts coming to watch the games. That was an eye opener for me. Fast forward a few years and I’m sitting in Buffalo for the draft. I was rated pretty high so I knew I was going to go early and I knew San Jose was in particular pretty interested and they had the second pick. They traded down to get the third pick and by then I knew where I was going. I played my first game in the first game of the ’99 season after I made the team out of camp. I ended up scoring in the first period in my first game and my defence partner was Gary Suter. It doesn’t get much better than that.