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Friday, March 16, 2018

AN EVENING WITH OWEN NOLAN

Interviewing Owen Nolan
4-time NHL All Star Owen Nolan was the guest speaker at Thursday's UofR Mens Hockey Alumni/Regina Pat Canadians fundraising dinner at the Conexus Art Centre.

The #1 overall pick in the 1990 NHL Draft and 2002 Olympic Gold Medallist spoke for 45 minutes and shared all kinds of hockey stories from his 18 seasons in the NHL.

Here are some notes from our Q&A session:

1 - Thursday night was Owen Nolan's FIRST-EVER after dinner speech. He displayed no signs of nerves.

2 - Nolan was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland and didn't start playing hockey until the age of 9 in Thorold, ON. Baseball and soccer were his childhood sports but he took up hockey because that was the popular sport among kids in his neighbourhood.

3 - Nolan played for two seasons with the OHL's Cornwall Royals before being selected with the top pick in 1990 by the Quebec Nordiques. He loved his time in Quebec City and hopes one day the NHL returns because they deserve it.

4 - Nolan's favourite coach in the NHL was Darryl Sutter, particularly because of his dry wit.

5 - Regarding the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City, Nolan brought a video camera onto the bench and taped the final four minutes of the gold medal game. Coach Pat Quinn tried to put Nolan on the ice but he declined, saying he was too busy videotaping! He still has that tape under lock and key, and would never sell it.

6 - Nolan played 1200 NHL games and tallied 885 points. He was a true "power forward" but he says that role doesn't exist in today's NHL. He said he enjoys the way the game is played now, but he has trouble watching for an entire game.

7 - Owen is likely best known for the 1997 NHL All Star Game where he infamously "called his shot" against Dominek Hasek, pointing to the top of the net on a breakaway and promptly scoring there. He said he doesn't regret pulling the stunt - particularly since it was in a fun All Star Game - but no one remembers he set an All Star Game record that night by scoring two goals in eight seconds.

8 - His favourite NHL city to play in was Chicago while his least-favourite was Detroit. "There's nowhere to eat and you could get shot if you leave the hotel," Nolan quipped.

9 - Regarding the two labour stoppages during his NHL career (1995 and 2004), Nolan said he certainly had no problem with them. His first contract was for $170,000 but he would eventually go on to earn $6.5-million per season.

10 - Nolan spent two seasons in Toronto (2002-2004) and said the biggest problem in that market is the media hype. He said reporters would climb over each other trying to get the scoop and would end up fabricating stories. He said it did cause problems within the locker room at times.

11 - Nowadays Nolan owns two restaurants in San Jose - where he makes his home - and enjoys coaching his son's minor hockey team and following his daughter's high school cheerleading career.

**Funds from Thursday's event go towards scholarships for the UofR Mens Hockey Team and for operations of the Regina Pat Canadians Hockey Club. Rob "Sharky" Jamont does an outstanding job of putting the evening together!

RP
@rodpedersen