April 11, 2014 PRINT Bookmark and Share

From Humble Roots

Gaudreau Was Reared in a Hockey Family

by Adam Wodon/Managing Editor

When Johnny Gaudreau was two years old, his father Guy was already teaching him how to skate, by putting skittles on the ice and making his son skate around them.

That might explain his nimble footwork.

But Guy, who himself played Division III hockey at Norwich — under former Princeton and Massachusetts coach Don Cahoon, no less — never could've dreamed this day would come.

"I was just doing it because I wanted him to love the game and play," Guy Gaudreau said. "And my wife, when he was eight years old, he was a pretty good little player, goes, 'Can he play college hockey?' I said, 'Don't even think that way. Let him play, let him have fun, let him get better. One day, if he wants to be, he'll decide.'

"From the age of 12 on, you knew he was going to do something.

"(He) was 18 months, he was still in diapers. I had him on the ice, he was laying on the ice, and I said, 'He'll never be a hockey player.' And (my wife) was like, 'I want to wait until his diapers are off to make that decision.' She's an equalizer in our relationship."

The Gaudreau family was beaming with pride Friday, after the oldest son, Johnny, was named Hobey Baker Award winner following his 80-point season. The day, filled with platitudes, family hugs, and camaraderie with teammates, tempered the disappointment of Thursday loss in the NCAA national semifinal.

That was all followed by his signing a contract with the NHL's Calgary Flames, the team that drafted him in the fourth round. Even better, college linemate Bill Arnold signed as well. Calgary's Craig Conroy had flown into town Thursday on a 9-seat charter plane hoping to take Gaudreau and Arnold back with him. But he didn't know when Boston College's season would be over, exactly, and didn't even know for sure if Johnny Gaudreau would sign.

But it was time.

"We talked it out before (this week)," Guy Gaudreau said. "As parents we wanted him to get his degree. Not so much about the hockey. But as a hockey person, he's reached the level where he needs to challenge himself a little more. I'm mixed both ways. My wife isn't mixed at all, she doesn't want him to go. But she won't interfere with his wishes because he's worked so hard to get where he has to go. But we've had some pretty intense discussions.

"But he's a good kid and that's what he wants to do."

Gaudreau will play one game with the Flames, the season finale, and then return to Boston College to finish his junior year. He is five classes short of his degree, and will finish that off over the next two summers.

"(Calgary coach) Bob Hartley texted him and said, 'You're in the lineup, you're going (to Vancouver), you'll be No. 53,'" Guy Gaudreau said. "We're hoping (Mike) Cammalleri so he gets his number 13 back."

Guy Gaudreau and his three brothers all played hockey growing up in Beebe Plain, Vt., as did their father and his five brothers, and all the cousins. So Guy Gaudreau has been around enough to have a solid opinion on his son's chances going forward, even if somewhat biased, heading to a team that once had Martin St. Louis in its hands but wouldn't play him regularly and got rid of him. That was 17 years ago.

"Calgary's a great spot," Guy Gaudreau said. "They're going young, they're not very good, they're rebuilding. They'll fit right in.

"If he doesn't (fit in there), there's always trades and whatever. But I think somewhere there's a niche for him in the NHL. I stand next to Danny Briere and he's no bigger than John, I think John might be bigger. So there's room for those kids. They have a guy in Calgary, Paul Byron, who's 5-foot-7, 153 pounds, smaller than John and they like him. So I think John is definitely as skilled as any of those guys — so, we'll see what happens."

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