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Players are Worth It

Jordan Tootoo's book "All the Way: My Life on Ice" is an autobiography that provides a gut wrenching account of his life, both on and off the ice. He played 723 NHL games for the Nashville Predators, Detroit Red Wings, New Jersey Devils and Chicago Black Hawks. The book delves into his experiences growing up in Canada's Arctic, his journey through the ranks of junior hockey, and his challenges and successes in the professional hockey world.

Tootoo is of Inuit and Ukrainian descent, and "All the Way" sheds light on his cultural background, family dynamics, and the impact of his heritage on his life and career. The book explores the personal struggles Tootoo faced, including the tragic loss of his brother to suicide, his battles with alcoholism and his struggles with mental health.

Through his candid storytelling, Tootoo provides readers with insights into the demanding and competitive world of professional hockey, as well as the broader context of his life's journey. Barry Trotz played a significant role in Jordin Tootoo's life. When Tootoo was spiraling out of control, Barry Trotz was one of the few people in his life that provided a source of stability and genuinely cared about his health and well being.

Tootoo says in the book he had a strong connection with Trotz and they had many conversations about their families and delt with with similar issues growing up.

"If I needed to talk to anyone, at any time, they were available. Barry Trotz was a big part of that. He was probably the first guy to sit me down and sincerely ask me if there was anything he could do; he was almost in tears. He didn't want anything bad to happen to me. He and David Poile, they really cared about me as a person. That's very hard to come by. You don't find people like that in the hockey business these days."

It is quite fitting that a person like Barry Trotz has been involved with Best Buddies of Tennessee, the Williamson County YMCA and the United Way. Organization known globally for mentoring and helping young people improve their lives.

The impact you have as a coach or mentor goes beyond the game itself. Ken Hitchcock was another such coach. During his acceptance speech as a one of the latest inductees to the Hockey Hall of Fame, the pinnacle shrine of the game's greats, he acknowledges a player he coached back 80s. Not an NHLer or a famous player, but a player who had issues with drugs and alcohol and had to leave his team. The player writes him a thank you letter over 30 years later. Here is the video of his speech, when he talks about the afore mentioned player, have a look at who the cameraman hones in on who nods in agreement (12:17).

It is my belief that there has never been a more critical time for strong mentors in youth sports and recreation than today. Coaches and mentors we need to pay heed to the kids that are involved in their teams and programs. The search for meaning is a fundamental aspect of coaching and mentoring. Throughout history, individuals and cultures have explored various avenues to find purpose and significance in life. Different people find meaning in different ways. The lives of young people, like Terrence Tootoo, are at stake everyday.

Barry Smith

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