Updated: Jan 6
The World Junior Hockey Championships is a tremendous showcase for young talent. And over the course of the event, nobody's star rose higher than that of Canada's Connor Bedard. He obliterated a series of scoring records in leading Canada to the Gold medal. The 17 year-old from North Vancouver is a phenom. And what's more; the kid is humble. He appears to be the "Perfect Canadian."
He may also have the perfect coach. His coach with the Regina Pats is John Paddock. Paddock will never allow an athlete's head to get too big. That was evident over his years with the Winnipeg Jets. This is an excerpt from "Two Minutes for Talking to Myself":
I Don’t See Any Stars.
Coach John Paddock took pains to divert attention away from name players. When Teemu Selanne scored 4 goals but wasn’t on the ice when Minnesota pulled their goaltender, he said it was because "Temmu didn't play very well." Whenever Bob Essensa played particularly well, Paddock would say, "He's paid to stop the puck." One day he called the media aside and asked that we quit interviewing Tie Domi altogether. On another occasion, I was at ice level introducing the Jet players individually when Paddock came over and whispered, “Don’t introduce Teemu last.” He was concerned about jealousy in the dressing room and there was always some of that.
As far as deflecting praise from Essensa, it was most notable in a year when Goalie Bob’s contract was about to expire. I believe Paddock was under orders to downplay the performance of his goaltender.
Paddock is not one to hand out buckets of praise, but you know his heart swelled as he watched his team's captain rise to unprecedented heights.