From the Stands
By Paul Osborne
Guelph Storm assistant coach Todd Harvey was the first overall pick of the Ontario Hockey League’s Detroit Compuware Ambassadors in 1991.
He scored 50 goals the following season and won two gold medals as part of the Team Canada’s World Junior team in 1993-94 and was captain of the team in 1994-95.
He was the first-round pick, ninth overall, of the National Hockey League’s Dallas Stars. He was riding a wave of success.
Then, suddenly the game that had been so easy for him became a struggle.
He had been an offensive star at every level but in the NHL his scoring touch abandoned him. In his first season with Dallas, he was sent back to junior after 40 games. That was a bitter pill to swallow.
“Being a first-round pick and being sent back down was a tough adjustment,” said Harvey, who hopes to share some of his acquired knowledge with this talented bunch of Storm players.
“As a player you can’t take anything for granted. I had always been a goal scorer but not being a goal scorer in the NHL meant I had to learn the defensive side of the game.”
Harvey would go on to play 671 games in the NHL with Dallas, the New York Rangers, San Jose Sharks, and Edmonton Oilers and carve out a successful career as a pest who was especially hard to play against come playoff time.
But now he is behind the bench, instead of on it, and enjoying every second.
“As an athlete you miss the competition when you retire. That feeling of being competitive and being part of something is what you miss the most. Having goals and then coming together to reach those goals and of course the road trips and buffet meals,” Harvey said with a belly laugh.
The Hamilton native is also a good foil for head coach Scott Walker and assistant Bill Stewart. They can be very intense both behind the bench and in the dressing room.
“He is a very laid back guy – kind of a teddy bear,” said Walker.
“And the kids really appreciate that he’s somebody they can talk to like a big brother. He’s been there and played the game. He knows what they’re going through. But don’t confuse laid back with not caring about winning. If you don’t block shots and work hard every night, he’ll let you know about it.”
Harvey said he finds games tougher to take as a coach than he did as a player.
“It’s emotionally exhausting!” said Harvey when asked what has surprised him the most about his debut behind the bench.
“As a coach you are in the game for all 60 minutes. As a player you were just in the game for the shifts you were on the ice. And you have to control your emotions too because if you get riled up, you get the kids riled up and that’s not a good thing.”
Harvey helped out last year in an unofficial capacity, but this year replaced Chris Hajt who moved into the front office as the team’s assistant GM to Mike Kelly.
So far, Harvey is having a great time and the players are truly benefiting from his ups and downs in the game of hockey.
From the Land of Oz . . .The Storm visits Windsor Thursday before hosting Niagara Friday . . . The CHL last week announced the first four weeks of its Friday Night Hockey 2013-2014 Sportsnet TV broadcast schedule. The Storm’s home game against Windsor on Nov. 22 will be seen live. Game time has been changed from 7:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.