The summer of 2008 was all about change for Darcy Hordichuk.
This summer has also been all about change – changing diapers.
The rugged Canucks enforcer, who became a proud papa in February, has experienced an off-season like never before with five-month-old Braden Walker chewing up most of his time.
“He’s just started teething, so he’s chewing on everything,” laughed Hordichuk, who caught up with Canucks.com while drudging through the hectic, gridlocked isles of Ikea – why not add to the madness by doing a phone interview while shopping!
“It’s been really exciting because he’s just learning how to roll, that’s been the big thing lately. And he’s goo-gooing and ga-gaing, he understands a little bit more who you are and he’s a little more coherent. It’s great.”
Hearing Vancouver’s tough guy, who routinely uses his fists to knock players on their rumps during the season, say things like goo-goo and ga-ga is odd, you have to admit. Just don’t think for a second that this workhorse is softening up just because he’s a dad. If anything, he’ll be more lethal than ever for the 2009-10 season.
“I took a few weeks off before hitting it full board again,” Hordichuk said, in regards to his off-season training.
“As it gets closer to camp you tend to go from earlier in your stage, which is rehab, just trying to balance your body out again and letting it heal up, to the power stage. With Roger’s program I’m more in the power stage right now where we’re trying to be a little more explosive. It’s definitely got me looking forward to camp.”
During the months between the end of 2008-09 season and the upcoming start of camp, Hordichuk was bouncing all over North America between California, Saskatchewan and Nashville.
The former Nashville Predator still has a place in Music City, the “home of country music,” and wouldn’t you know it, he’s friends with a country music star.
Let me rephrase that. Hordichuk is friends with one of the biggest country music stars of all time, Garth Brooks.
Hordichuk being in Nashville coincided with an event Brooks was holding for his Teammates for Kids Foundation, and the Canucks forward was glad to make an appearance.
Having helped out Brooks at the event numerous times before, Hordichuk knew the ins and outs, but that didn’t take anything away from hanging out with a country music legend.
“A lot of athletes come out to these events and it was actually held at Garth Brooks’ house in Nashville, so that was cool. He did a private concert for all of us and then took us around his place. In his barn he has all his old stages that he performed on and he has his old tour bus and fun things like that.”
The Teammates for Kids Foundation provides financial resources to non-profit organizations and Hordichuk is one of 561 hockey players who contribute to the Top Shelf Hockey Division. Other big name athletes who have taken part include Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees, Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings and Dwayne Wade of the Miami Heat.
Working with Brooks was one of the highlights of Hordichuk’s time spent playing for American teams (Atlanta, Phoenix, Florida and Nashville from 2000-2008), but there was also one major downside to living South of the border: the lack of sports coverage devoted to the CFL.
Anyone who knows Hordichuk knows that the native of Kamsack, Saskatchewan bleeds green and white for the Roughriders.
A major perk of being back in Canada is that the CFL is readily available, whether on TV or in person.
During Week 6 of the CFL season Hordichuk’s Riders were in Vancouver to play the BC Lions and he was there with bells on.
“That was a bit of a rough game,” said Hordichuk, in reference to the 35-20 loss his team suffered dropping its record to 3-3 at the time.
“I thought it was good for BC to win because I think they needed the win, but it was tough for Riders fans. I had the little guy in a Riders shirt and I took some razzing from the BC fans.”
The loss wasn’t what Hordichuk wanted, especially since this was the first time he had attended a game in nearly 10 years, but he’s keeping the faith that Saskatchewan can find the form that led them to a Grey Cup championship in 2007.
“I’ve been following them and they’ve been struggling, but I think they have good leadership on the team and I think that they’ll bounce back here. They better.”
What changes would Hordichuk make to right the ship if he were in charge of Darian Durant and company?
“I’d bring Damon Allen out of retirement and bring him into the organization. A guy like that, as old as he is, he’s proven year in and out that he can play.
“I’d probably get Pinball Clemons too, I’m sure they can both still play,” he laughed.
There wasn’t much more to discuss with Hordichuk after that statement, clearly the fumes in Ikea were getting to him.
At least it beats the smell of dirty diapers.