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Life After the Game Series: Guelph Storm Coach Scott Walker
Scott Walker was a hard working hockey player who played for a number of teams during a 15 year career that included Vancouver, Nashville, Carolina and Washington. The Cambridge, Ont. native played 829 games totaling 397 points. Walker was the consummate team player and also served as Captain for the Nashville Predators.
This past year, Walker returned to his old stomping grounds near Cambridge to take on the head coaching position for the Guelph Storm of the Ontario Hockey League.
"All through my career, I've had to work hard and play smart," Walker shares. "I always liked to analyze the game and different systems, so I thought it was possible that I could coach one day."
Walker had been mentoring some of the Storm players and was eventually offered the Head Coaching position in December of 2010. "The first week was extremely tough," Walker recalls. "As a coach, you worry about everything. It can be 2AM and you're still thinking about things."
To continue in his development, Walker talks to a lot of hockey people to discuss systems and different coaching philosophies."I played for Mike Keenan, Paul Maurice and Peter Lavallette. You try to take a little something from each of the coaches that you played for," Walker comments.
Knowing that he's developing young men in the game, Walker spoke about the importance of dealing with them not just as players, but also as people. "Some of these kids are 16 yrs old and maybe living more than 10 hours away from home. There could be homesickness or problems with girlfriends and you need to understand the issues that happen outside the rink."
Walker was no stranger to adversity during his career. As a member of the Carolina Hurricanes, playing against the Boston Bruins in the 2nd round of the 2008 playoffs, Walker's wife was diagnosed with cervical cancer before game 6. He went on to score the game winning goal in Game 7 in Boston to win the Series. "It was just such a tough time and I really don't remember scoring the goal. After the game, Coach Mo gave me a hug and I did and interview with commentator Tripp Tracy and then it kind of hit me," Walker shares.
While the public wasn't aware of his wife's situation till after the Series, Walker recalls how supportive his team was during that period. "Those are things you never forget". Walker's wife has since made a full recovery.
Walker will miss competing and the adversity that is part of the game. "While it's always great to have a winning streak, I'll also miss the losing streaks. That's when you find out a lot about yourself and the other guys in the room."