Make sure you check back on a regular basis to read parts of chapters and see pictures of my book ” My Life In Hockey ” with Scott Morrison and Jeff Jackson. This book is dedicated to my Dad Les Clark.
Lets start where it all started with chapter 1
Kelvington, Sask. Canada’s Hockey Factory
When you grow up on a farm outside a town of maybe a thousand people like Kelvington, located in the middle of Saskatchewan, you don’t really ever think that one day you’ll be playing in the National Hockey League. It’s not even a boyhood dream.
For a kid in Kelvington, the NHL was just to far away from reality. I guess that’s why I never really had a favourite NHL team, although I did have a picture of Bobby Orr on my bedroom wall.
The truth is, for my friends and me hockey was much more fun playing it than watching it. Sure, I liked Bobby Orr, but we didn’t get to see a whole lot of the Boston Bruins on TV. Saturday nights, of course, meant ” Hockey Night In Canada ” and in those days that usually meant Toronto or Montreal games were on TV. The games would come on at 6pm ( Saskatchewan time ). Our parents would be home watching, but we were always at the rink. I didn’t watch that many NHL games back then.
For a boy growing up in Kelvington the dream was making our local senior team and play in front of the hometown fans on Wednesday and Saturday nights. The guys we really looked up to, and really wanted to be, were the guys right in our own back yard, the guys on the Kelvington senior team. They were our heroes.
For us, Regina and Saskatoon were the big cities in Canada. And so were local towns like Humbolt and Yorkton. Never mind that they had populations of only about 15,000. Places like Toronto or Vancouver or Montreal were never on our radar and neither was the NHL. The plan was to grow up and be a farmer like your Dad and maybe play some senior hockey if you were lucky. That’s just the way it was.
For me , the year was divided into two seasons: baseball in the summer and hockey in the winter. Like most towns accross Canada, during the winter, the local arena was the centre of attention and activity. That’s where the action was. But because there was no ice at the Kelvington arena until early December, in early November we would start skating and playing some shinny on the frozen ponds, or sloughs as we called them, on the farm.
When the rink finally opened, we practically lived there. The rink was like home for me; seven days a week – that’s where I would be. And because my dad was in charge of a lot of the minor hockey in town and ran the senior team, too, it allowed me the opportunity to skate with a wide range of different age groups, most of them older. And hockey-wise that helped.
I’ve often been asked who the biggest influence was on my hockey career. The answer’s easy. It was my Dad, Les Clark. When I was young and still at home, he taught me the fundamentals of the game. With Dad, everything was about working hard. It didn’t matter whether it was practice or a game, you gave everything you had to the best of your ability every time you stepped on the ice. It was always maximum effort from start to finish. Anything less was letting yourself and your team down.
He always told us “if your doing a shooting drill in practice, you shoot to score.” He also told us “that you don’t just skate all the way down the ice to simply shoot the puck into the corner. You always gave it your best.” Same thing with passing the puck, he always told us to “pass it like you mean it or your just wasting time.”
With Dad, nothing was half-way.
And as big as Dad was on going out and being your best, he was probably more of a perfectionist at hockey than anything. He was just as big, and maybe even bigger on respect.
That applied to hockey and everything else. If there ever was a problem situation involving any of the Clark boys, there was never any question who’d be held responsible or getting the blame; it was which ever one of us was involved. And there would be no sympathy at home. With my Dad, and my Mom for that matter, when it came to people in general and people of authority in particular – teachers, coaches – it was all about respect. When you gave it, you got it. That was my Dad.
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