Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Well, my name is Patrick, I’m 37 years old and a father to two beautiful daughters and husband to a beautiful wife. I played hockey my whole life, recently retired and I’m currently working as a broadcaster for NBC.
Explain the billeting process and how important it was to you in your development as a hockey player and a person in general?
Billeting is when a young player leaves their home behind and stays with another family that takes them in, usually like they would their own child. I was fortunate to have a great billet experience with the Weber’s and it’s important for kids to get that experience when they’re young because it can really help with their development as you know they eat, sleep and breathe hockey – dreaming to advance in their career and maybe go pro one day.
Are there any particular families/people that you still keep in touch with that you billeted with?
The Weber family were in Ottawa when I met them, they lived in Richmond, Ontario. They housed my brother and I for an entire season as our billet family while we played junior hockey. They were instrumental in me continuing my path to the National Hockey League. They treated me and my brother like they were their own sons and I’m very thankful I got linked up with a family like the Webers at the age of 16.
How valuable is it to have a company like as well-known as Airbnb recognize the importance of the billeting process?
When Airbnb approached me I didn’t immediately see the connection, but when we started talking about home sharing and billeting it made perfect sense to me. It’s not just about living like a local, it’s about opening your doors to people who have left theirs behind to take the next step on their journey – whether that’s for work, a vacation, or to pursue their dreams. So, to see Airbnb value billeting the same way that hockey players do really means a lot to me.
Tell us a little bit about Airbnb’s Billet Day and how that’s going to bring recognizance to the process?
Airbnb Billet Day is a chance for Airbnb to showcase similarities between home-sharing and the billeting process. For generations Canadians have been opening up their doors to help others; it’s really got such a great tradition here in Canada that’s unlike anywhere else in the world. We’re looking forward to bridging the gap between these two communities and hope more people will open up their homes to host on Airbnb to help someone who needs a place to stay.
Billeting has largely seemed like more of a Canadian thing from the outside looking in. Are there a lot of players playing for US teams doing the same thing these days?
Yes, there are, it’s not just unique to Canada. Although I think Canada does it the best. Plenty of players from the U.S. are doing the same thing – leaving home to chase their dream of making the next level or the NHL – and the billeting process is so important in the development of these young players. It’s special to the sport of hockey and I don’t think a lot of other sports go out of their way to house these young kids.
Have you or would you open your home up to a young hockey player?
Right now, I’m really focused on my work and my family, so I don’t think I could dedicate the time necessary to host a young hockey player – but, never say never, right?
How is this $25,000 donation going to be used to support tomorrow’s stars?
The $25,000 donation is going to the GTHL Legacy Fund to support the next generation of hockey in Canada. Hockey can be an expensive sport for sure, and so the GTHL Legacy Fund provides financial assistance to families in need, which I think is really important.
You won 3 Stanley Cups with the Blackhawks. What was that experience like doing it all with largely the same core group of players?
There were seven of us that won all three and it was an incredible experience to be on those teams. There was a lot of turnover as the years went by, but the memories and the experiences that we had together were truly special. One of the most important things, for me, was how we connected with the City of Chicago during all of this. We did a lot of promotional events, and a lot with the fans that connected us to them – and it felt like those fans in Chicago were a part of it all, because they really were. They sold out the building every day and we saw the support of the city cheering us on. And I truly feel lucky to be a part of the Blackhawks during the era that I was.
Was there ever a team you really wished you could have played for, but never had the chance to?
Growing up in Ontario it was the Leafs 24/7 and I always thought it would be cool to play for my home province in Toronto and Montreal too for that matter. When you go to that city and play in that building it has a unique feel to it, it’s different than any other building. So, it’d be Montreal or Toronto; two great Canadian cities with proud fan bases that would, I’m sure, provide an incredible hockey experience.
What advice would you have for aspiring young hockey players?
Believe in yourself; that’s one word I always come back to. It’s the word that my mother continues to repeat to me on a monthly, weekly, daily basis. Throughout my career, I talked a lot to my father about hockey about the x’s and o’s of competing and how to be a good player. And often I didn’t get to talk to my mother during those conversations – but she would chime in, often at the end, and remind me to believe in myself, believe in what my goals were and to believe in who I was as a person. It’s the best advice I’ve ever gotten in my life.
What’s retirement life like for you?
Well, I don’t feel totally retired. Maybe retired from the game of hockey, as far as playing it. But I’m still very busy day-to-day. I do enjoy waking up and physically feeling better – not feeling sore from the punishment that the game can leave on you. But I miss being around 20 of my best friends on a daily basis. But I’m finding time to stay busy, spending time with my family and enjoying the opportunities that have come to me through the sport.
Let the readers know where to find you online.
You can find me, but I don’t know if you’ll get a hold of me (haha)! I use Twitter for news and Instagram to keep up with some friends. But I’m not very active on social media – but I should probably improve on that in my elder years.