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Bench Talk / Off The Wire

The Hockey Hug


By Fred Wallace

Hi, this is Fred Wallace with " Off the Wire ".


Last week, Hockey Canada released a list of players and supervisors who were considered for the Under 18 Selection Camp and possibly for the Hlinka Gretzky Cup afterwards.

Of course, the announcement was a formality with COVID-19 bushwhacking both the camp and the tournament.

Owen Sound Attack Head Coach Alan Letang was to be an Assistant Coach for the Under 18 squad, and seeing his name jogged a memory from last season.

The Attack were in Kitchener on a Friday night to face the Rangers.

As is custom, before the game I went to interview Alan about the game ahead and garner any pertinent notes for the Bearadio broadcast on CFOS that night.

Alan asked if I could hang on for a couple of minutes because he wanted to speak with one of his players.

As I waited, the player in question, who was playing " okay " but maybe not to the level anticipated, walked by me and went into the Coaches Room at the Aud in Kitchener.

Maybe 30 seconds later the player emerged and headed back to the Attack Dressing Room.

Next, I poked my head into the Coach Letang's room and and without prompting he said, " I had to give out a hug. "

Almost instantly, almost without thinking, I asked Alan Letang how many " hugs " he got in his Ontario Hockey League days with Cornwall, Newmarket and Sarnia.

Alan has an easy manner; he smiled and shook his head as he rhymed off the names; Marc Crawford was at Cornwall when he was drafted, then John Lovell, Shawn McKenzie in Newmarket, followed by Don Boyd in 2 centers & finally.......Mark Hunter.

Alan Letang didn't tell me the number of hugs he received from his coaches a quarter of a century ago when he played, but looking at the list of coaches he played for, I can assume the total would be one less than the number he delivered that night in Kitchener.


I'm Fred Wallace


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