Retired National Hockey League star Reggie Leach

Retired National Hockey League star Reggie Leach

Ex-NHLers bring education message to Victoria Grizzlies gala

Reggie Leach and three other former NHL players spoke at a Victoria Grizzlies gala event in Langford on Thursday night.

Reggie Leach figures he’s accomplished most of the goals he set early in his life, except for one: making it into the Hockey Hall of Fame.

In telling his hockey life story to a gala fundraiser crowd at the Westin Bear Mountain Resort that included members of the Victoria Grizzlies organization, players’ parents and other members of the West Shore hockey and business community, the former National Hockey League superstar hinted that poor life choices brought an early end to his career.

A recovered alcoholic who got sober once he entered treatment in 1985 – two years after scoring his 381st and last NHL goal – Leach, now 66, said seeking help for his addiction issues gave him a new lease on life.

“I’m more proud of what I’ve done after hockey than what I did during hockey,” he said, referring to getting clean, building new relationships and connecting with First Nations youth in Canada. “Hockey was a basic stepping stone, it gets me in a lot of doors and I think that when I changed my life around, everything changed for me.”

The point of telling a group of young hockey players about his life choices was two-fold: He wanted to emphasize the value of getting an education, and teach them they need to take responsibility for bad choices they might make. “They’re just starting their career and they’re going to make a bunch of mistakes and I think it’s my responsibility to let them know that it’s OK to make a mistake, as long as you correct it and move on.”

The value of education figured in speeches given by Leach and fellow former NHLers John Grisdale, Lyle Moffatt and Matt Pettinger at the Grizzlies fundraiser last Thursday. That was mainly due to the fact the B.C. Hockey League has become a pipeline to the college ranks for up-and-coming players, including several on this year’s Grizzlies.

Moffat and Grisdale, the BCHL president and a big proponent of aiming for college scholarships, were teammates at Michigan Tech in the 1960s. Pettinger went from the Victoria Salsa – the predecessor of the Grizzlies – to Denver University where he played almost two seasons.

In the late 1960s and early ’70s when Leach was coming up through the ranks of junior hockey and breaking into the NHL, most players didn’t have an education to fall back on if their hockey career ended abruptly or never took off. “I never had a second choice,” he said. “All I knew was playing junior hockey.”

editor@goldstream gazette.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Sooke’s Amy McLaughlin holds Theodore, a bunny who will be going to a new owner in Nanaimo within the coming days if all goes will at an upcoming bunny play-date. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)
Sooke woman looking to hop into bigger space for bunny business

Amy McLaughlin has rescued over 400 bunnies across the Island, mainland

Jerry Dyck plans to purchase a new RV to drive across Canada in, once it’s safe to travel again. (Courtesy BCLC)
Victoria man plans post-pandemic cross-Canada RV trip after $2M lottery win

Retired electrician bought the winning ticket in Duncan

Coroner Andy Watson confirmed the death of a man in Chemainus Monday night.
Coroners service looks into death at Victoria encampment for poeple who are homeless

BC Coroners Service confirms death occurred at Royal Athletic Park Jan. 23

Crews with Discovery Channel film as an Aggressive Towing driver moves a Grumman S2F Tracker aircraft around a 90-degree turn from its compound and onto the road on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021. It was the “most difficult” part of the move for the airplane, one organizer said. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: Vintage military plane gets towed from Chilliwack to Greater Victoria

Grumman CP-121 Tracker’s eventual home the British Columbia Aviation Museum on Vancouver Island

The Pacific Rim National Park Reserve is urging visitors to stay on designated trails after a hiker became injured in an unsanctioned area last week. (Westerly file photo)
Injured hiker rescued in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

“Safety is everyone’s responsibility.”

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. Two more cases of the COVID-19 strain first identified in South Africa have been diagnosed in British Columbia, bringing the total to three as of Jan. 16.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. now has three cases of South African COVID-19 variant, six of U.K. strain

Both variants are thought to spread faster than earlier strains

Rodney and Ekaterina Baker in an undated photo from social media. The couple has been ticketed and charged under the Yukon’s <em>Civil Emergency Measures Act</em> for breaking isolation requirements in order to sneak into a vaccine clinic and receive Moderna vaccine doses in Beaver Creek. (Facebook/Submitted)
Great Canadian Gaming CEO resigns after being accused of sneaking into Yukon for vaccine

Rod Baker and Ekaterina Baker were charged with two CEMA violations each

Police discovered a makeshift nightclub in a Vancouver apartment on Jan. 23, 2021, and say it wasn’t the first time this month officers have been called to the unit over social gathering concerns. (Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
Doorman of makeshift ‘booze-can’ in Vancouver apartment fined; police look to court order

This marks the fourth complaint about social gatherings inside the apartment in January

Local musician and artist Daisy Melville created a watercolour portrait of U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders from the recent American inauguration, and with help from her mom, is now selling t-shirts and more with funds going to the Comox Valley Food Bank. Image submitted
Island artist turns Sanders inauguration meme into art for good

All proceeds from the sale of shirts, sweaters and more will go to the Comox Valley Food Bank

A Kelowna couple welcomed their Nooner baby in December. (Flytographer)
Kelowna couple welcomes baby girl from Hotel Zed Nooner campaign

Nicole and Alex will now have 18 years of free stays at the hotel

Kyrell Sopotyk was drafted by the Kamloops Blazers in 2016 and played two seasons with the Western Hockey League club. (Photograph By ALLEN DOUGLAS/KTW)
Kamloops Blazer paralyzed in snowboarding accident sparks fundraiser for family

As of Jan. 24, more than $68,000 had been raised to help Kamloops Blazers’ forward Kyrell Sopotyk

(Pixhere photo)
B.C. dentists argue for COVID-19 vaccine priority after ‘disappointing’ exclusion from plan

Vaccines are essential for dentists as patients cannot wear masks during treatment, argues BCDA

Most Read