Just when I thought Canucks Prospects Development Camp couldn’t get any better, our activities Wednesday proved me wrong.
Because of a New Kids on the Block concert at Rogers Arena Wednesday night, we spent the day exploring Vancouver, starting with the Grouse Grind. I had never done this hike before, or hiked much for that matter, but my family has had a cabin in Invermere, BC, for as long as I can remember, so I’m good with the great outdoors.
I was not great with the outdoors during the grind, however. That was a battle, it was really tough; it definitely lived up the name - it was a grind. Thankfully I was part of a good team with Blomstrand, Eriksson, de Champlain, McEneny and Geiger and we really pushed each other. We had a big stick and if one of the guys started dragging behind, we gave them the stick. It helped for some reason!
I think the start was the toughest part for me, I remember being no more than five minutes in and I thought I had been going for about an hour, but once I got going, I got used to the pace and after the halfway mark, it got a little bit easier I thought.
Like most things, the grind is a mental battle more than anything. For anyone thinking about taking the climb for the first time, I’d say stay strong mentally and just don’t stop, don’t look up, don’t look back, just keep going, find a steady pace that works for you and do that the whole way through. Use the ropes on the side too, that helped me when I was dragging behind. Oh and find a big stick!
The second part of the day still has me smiling: we visited the BC Children’s Hospital to try and spread some joy.
My sister Savaya has diabetes, she was diagnosed when she was two-years-old, so she spent a lot of time in the hospital with that disease growing up. I became used to hospitals early on, and I really learned a lot from her. She’s someone who is always positive, she’s really the one person in my life who means the most to me, and knowing how strong she had to be and still is, helped me put into perspective how strong the kids we met today are.
The visit was overwhelming for many reasons and you could see it on the kids’ faces how much it meant. These kids look up to us, but kids like this are what drive us because we’ve all, for the most part, been given a lot and had a lot of opportunities, so the fact that we can sign something and they can look back on it and say they met us, is pretty cool. It was an honour to go meet those kids.
I think for me, one of the main things in my life is to be a good person and give back to as many people as I can. Having a good camp on the ice is obviously important, but the chance to come here to the hospital and try to put a smile on these kids’ faces is big. They’ve all had a tough ride, so to be able to give them something to look forward to, maybe a bright spot to their day, is something all the guys in this camp and I really look forward to.
Perspective is the word I’ll use. There are ups and downs in a hockey career and there are ups and downs in a game, but for the downs that these kids have to go through, it makes what we complain about seem like nothing. These kids are little warriors and it’s awesome to help put a smile on their faces, we all really enjoy that.
I hope the kids had as much fun today as I did!