The path to the National Hockey League from Kingston, Ont. is a road well travelled and Toronto Maple Leaf defenceman Scott Harrington
is one of many to have made the journey.
Harrington grew up in Kingston idolizing former Leafs and Kingston natives Doug Gilmour and Kirk Muller. Harrington also spent his formative years skating in the summer with another ex-Leaf in Jay McClement.
All three of those players made their way to the NHL via the Ontario Hockey League. Harrington ultimately followed suit and starred with the London Knights.
But the articulate Harrington initially had plans to attend an NCAA school and pursue an education, which is so important to both himself and his parents.
The 2009 OHL Priority Selection changed all that while the then-15-year-old Harrington was out in Victoria playing in the RBC Cup with the Kingston Voyageurs.
"Because of the time difference I wasn't even awake or even watching the OHL draft. I didn't realize that I had been picked by London (19th overall) until someone knocked on my hotel door and told me the news," Harrington said. "When I got to London the first time that summer, I saw the city, the rink, met the Hunters (Mark and Dale), and they really opened my parents' eyes to the idea of Western University being there. We made a decision right then that the OHL was going to be the best of both worlds for me."
Two years later, Harrington was drafted by the Pittsburgh Penguins 54th overall. It was then as an 18-year-old that Harrington joined forces in the summer with yet another Kingston hockey product in Taylor Hall and his father, Steve.
Steve Hall is a strength coach who once played in the Canadian Football League and bobsledded for Canada.
"Taylor and Steve have done wonders for my development. We obviously knew each other growing up playing minor hockey in Kingston. His dad trained me for three summers and it was awesome," said Harrington. "Two great people, Steve is also really good at thinking outside the box. Taylor's game is all about speed and skill and that's something I tried to work with them and build upon."
Harrington played in two Memorial Cups with the London Knights and represented Canada in two World Junior Championships in 2012 and 2013.
The opportunity to travel to Ottawa with his family on New Year's Eve in 2008 and watch Canada defeat U.S.A by a 7-4 score at the World Juniors is a highlight as a hockey fan. Especially after the Americans had jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead.
"That was really special. As a fan that was probably my favorite hockey moment, that great comeback and having experienced all that with my family. At that point in my hockey career, I had never dreamt that I could be on one of those teams," said Harrington. "It's pretty unbelievable that the one World Junior game that I got to as a fan was one of the most memorable in Canadian hockey history. So it truly was a very special moment for me."
And at just 22 years old, Harrington's appreciation of where he has been is merely a prelude to what he hopes to achieve as a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs moving forward.