By Terry Doyle
There is an old cliché in hockey about a player battling for the name on the front of his jersey – not the one on the back. Edmonton Oil Kings goaltender Laurent Brossoit is also battling for someone else – and it’s shown on the back of his goalie mask.
“We don’t know how strong we are until being strong is the only choice we have – multiple sclerosis awareness”
Those words adore the back plate on Brossoit’s mask in honour of his father John who has been battling the disease for more than five years.
“I want to support my dad, I know he's going through a lot in his life, explained Brossoit, 19. “I just put the paint job on the back of my mask to let him know that he's in the back of my mind at all times and we're doing this together.”
Despite being separated by thousands of kilometers during the MasterCard Memorial Cup, Laurent keeps in touch with his father back in British Columbia everyday through text message. The conversations are often small-talk, and some fatherly goaltending advice.
The Brossoit family helped raised more than $8,000 last year for John to be able to undergo a special treatment in Seattle to help with his MS symptoms. The treatment is not available in Canada. Since then, he has seen physical improvements.
“He's been doing a ton better and I'm happy for him and we're looking forward,” said Laurent. “You don't take everything for granted. You just realize that there are a lot worse things out there and I have it pretty good.”
Dealing with a family situation such as this, while trying to win junior hockey’s top prize cannot be an easy task, but the Oil Kings top puckstopper has received support from his hockey family. Coach Derek Laxdal can provide perspective on the emotions of family and hockey after losing his father in February.
“The rink is a good place to get away from any off-ice issues that you have or any concerns that you have,” added Laxdal. “It's nice from his father's standpoint to be there for (Laurent) to see the success that he's having.”
“That's the hardest part about (being) an athlete, you have to be able to differentiate between your off-ice concerns and your on-ice concerns and LB does a good job of separating it.”
Laurent’s mother and sister missed the start of the tournament but are expecting to make it to Shawinigan in-time to see further round-robin action. Meanwhile, you can be assured text messages will continue to go back-and-forth across the country between father and son. If one of them is having a bad day, the other will be there to help support and inspire.
“You look back on it; life's a little bit different than just playing the game of hockey. It's not the end of it all, your family comes first,” added Laxdal.