MONTREAL - Ben Chiarot picked up some tricks of the hockey trade from watching and playing alongside several current and former NHLers.
We recently sat down with the 28-year-old defenseman to learn more about his top influences.
He was definitely a big influence at a young age. As a hockey player, you're pretty impressionable when you're 11 or 12 years old. He was laying guys out, winning Stanley Cups and he was the captain, so he was someone I really looked up to. My dad was like, 'This is a guy you should watch and try and play like.' I always followed him. He was my guy for a long time. His intensity in games was also impressive, along with his leadership. He was an easy player to look up to and want to emulate.
He was a big one for me. I had a video growing up, Skate with Paul Coffey. It was him and Ron MacLean. It was a power skating video. My dad put me in a lot of power skating classes as a kid because Paul Coffey was a beautiful skater. He said, 'You need to be able to skate if you want to play.' Paul Coffey was No. 77, so I wore No. 77 growing up. Paul and Scott would be the two biggest early on. They're polar opposites as players, but the skating aspect of Paul Coffey and the physicality of Scott Stevens are two things that I kind of took with me to this point in my career.
I played with him in Junior with Guelph, and I learned a lot from him. Just the way he played, his demeanor was so relaxed. Nothing really bothered him. If he made a mistake, it wasn't that big of a deal. His personality is like that. He's just a laid back guy. He was an awesome player. I think that laid back demeanor helped him. He was never too tight on the ice. His confidence was always high. That's the best way to put it.
At the beginning of his career in Calgary, he was like a young Scott Stevens. He could absolutely lay the body and provide offense as well. He was kind of the all-around guy that every defenseman wanted to be like at that time. He was a big one for me when I was 14 or 15 years old.
We're really close. He's a good friend of mine, and he's been a mentor to me since I was 17. I grew up skating with him. He was really the first NHL player that I came into contact with because he was from my hometown. I ended up doing some training with him and we would do a little training camp at his cottage when I started playing in the NHL. I've learned a lot from him. The way he played, too, is somewhat similar to my style. If I would say one player who had the biggest influence on my career, it would be him, because I learned the most from him and I got to be with him daily. He's had a big influence on me both on and off the ice. He's been like a big brother for me.