By RAJKO DODIC Lawyer and former mayor of Lethbridge on December 17, 2020.
“He shoots! He scores!”
The reason I can’t recall my hockey glories is simple. They did not exist. I never heard those words spoken during the brief periods of times I laced up some skates and attempted to play the venerated game of hockey. Frankly, I sucked at Canada’s game.
But I digress. I did learn how to skate during my time at St. Basil’s as from time to time our physical education classes would involve learning to skate and the basics of playing hockey.
I now fast forward to my years in law school where I was between 1978 and 1981. As an aside, I love Edmonton but the winters there are absolutely brutal.
One of the most stressful times for soon-to-be-graduating law students is when they apply for an articling position which is essentially a one-year enslavement that all law students are required to complete with a law firm prior to being eligible to become a full-fledged lawyer in Alberta.
It shouldn’t have come as a shock to me that when I applied for a big-city articling position, my marks or what I had done outside my legal studies in terms of voluntary work for a good cause were of little consequence in securing an articling position. The couple of times that I sat through an interview with some of the larger Alberta law firms, the one question that all head hunters asked was whether I was a talented hockey player or not.
So realizing the importance that hockey plays in securing a good articling position, I endeavoured to become the best hockey player I could be. That opportunity arose when a law school buddy of mine encouraged me to sign up for the law school team that would play a number of the other professional faculties.
Over the years I had become quite a proficient skater. Not only was I speedy going forward but I could almost skate as fast going backwards. It didn’t take long for my law school buddies to realize that it was false modesty that I represented myself to be an “ankler.” In fact I was the best player on the ice. Clearly I could skate faster, I could puck handle better than any of them and my slap shots was just “wicked.” To make a long story short, I played on the first line and ended up with the most goals and assists of anyone on any of the teams. My abilities caught the attention of other students and they started coming to the games. After the season was halfway through some scouts came by and, much to my shock, asked me to go to an open skate with the Edmonton Oilers. You can’t imagine the excitement I felt and I was worried that I might be too nervous to perform to the best of my abilities.
I needn’t have worried… I rocked! A few days later, I was offered a contract that was almost too good to be true. I couldn’t believe that an immigrant from the former Yugoslavia was about to become an NHL player.
That’s when my wife woke me up!
This is an except from M. Gordon Hunter’s book, “The Older I Get The Better I Was,” which features hockey experiences as related by an assortment of local citizens. The book is available at Analog Books, 322 6 St. S., phone 403-942-7403 or visit analogbooks.net.