USAH: As a “club team” event fitting in with your busy schedule with the national team, how important is it for you and other national team players to remain involved in an event like the Sled Classic?
SC: I think it’s crucial for the growth of the sport, whether it’s me being involved, or any national team guy that has come up through the ranks. It’s great to have them out there getting some face with kids and other people that don’t get to see them play, and to even chat with them off the ice. We consider it a very close-knit community. To have national team guys coming in and playing with their respective teams, or sometimes finding teams to hop on, not only does it help grow the sport for people that are either new to it or don’t necessarily get the chance to see everyone, but I think it also represents that we’re all in it together.
It really helps level the playing field when you have a handful of national team guys competing against each other. We’re able to elevate our game when we compete against each other, but at the same time, it helps other guys really see the pace of it when you get to that level. I think it helps everybody all around.
USAH: What does having the Sled Classic in your neighborhood, in St. Louis, mean for you?
SC: It’s really an honor to have it here in St. Louis. We haven’t had a tournament of this magnitude here yet. I’m happy about it because it shows that St. Louis has been on the map for hockey for quite some time. Maybe there are folks out there who don’t know that yet, but to have a premier hockey tournament coming to my hometown, I couldn’t be more proud to see where our city has come within the sport.
It’s not just from a player standpoint. You look at all the hands that are involved — all the volunteers, the organizing committee, the different sponsors — and it’s really been a growing process for people who haven’t been involved before. To be able to host a tournament like this, obviously we want to make it one of the best ones yet. At the same time, we’re keeping in the back of our minds that it just shows what kind of city we are, not just in other sports like baseball and football, in the past, but now hockey is becoming a premier sport within the community. To have it at such an immaculate facility as the Centene Community Ice Center, you can’t help but feel blessed.
It’s great to see the Blues also getting involved and showing their commitment to putting on a really good tournament. I have no doubt in my mind that it’s going to be an enjoyable one for everyone involved.
USAH: You mentioned the St. Louis Blues. How important is support of the NHL as a whole to the overall growth of sled hockey around the country?
SC: The Blues have been super supportive of the sled team here in St. Louis for a number of years. I need more than two hands to count the number of times they’ve invited me out to a game and the number of times they’ve reached out and congratulated the team on our successes.
Just being a part of something like that, it makes you feel like you’re part of a bigger picture than just what you do yourself. To have their support — I don’t think there are many teams that can say there is such a heavy involvement from not just the players, but also the higher ups and the executives. I’m honored and humbled to say that I’ve suited up in the locker room with [Blues owner] Tom Stillman and many others who are part of the organization. For me, I feel like it’s a surreal moment, every time they get involved.
To have that kind of attachment to such a great hockey club, and a classy hockey club at that, it’s a dream come true, for sure.