There was a new player skating with the Alberni Valley Bulldogs at the Multiplex and he wasn’t acquired through a trade.
B.C. Liberal finance minister Mike de Jong, 47, donned skates and a jersey and took to the ice for Monday afternoon’s Bulldog practice.
The Abbotsford West MLA played Junior B hockey while growing up. De Jong looked comfortable on the ice and even took a few shots on goal.“I played hockey but that was 100 years ago,” a winded and sweating de Jong said.
His hockey skills may be rusty but he handles his interview with a politician’s seasoned touch.
De Jong’s junior B team played Port Alberni once. “We got our asses kicked. Scott Fraser wasn’t on that team though,” de Jong said.
Through his years in hockey, de Jong said he wasn’t the most talented player on the team. But with his crushing workload today and combativeness in the legislature, it’s no surprise to learn that no one tried harder than him.“I had limited talent but a big heart,” he said. He didn’t compensate for his lack of talent by being a big hitter. “I think guys were worried that I’d just fall on them,” he said.
De Jong’s busy schedule prevents him from taking to the ice as often as he’d like. “You miss the game, of course you do,” he said.
De Jong’s favourite player was Guy Lafleur and he liked to watch the Montreal Canadiens. But today he’s a Vancouver Canucks fan.
Playing hockey as a teen taught de Jong the value of playing on a team. But it taught him other intangible lessons that still serve him today, he said. Just because you’re down three goals going into the third period doesn’t mean that you lost the game, de Jong said.
“The pundits have us down a game going into the next election but the series isn’t over yet,” he said. “But you never know, I might be looking for a team to play on after next spring.”