August 05, 2010

Summer Re-Runs: Then and Now with Seamus Kotyk

We're deep in the doldrums of the hockey off-season so I have decided to re-run a few articles about former players that I wrote for the Ottawa 67's news letter last season.  

The second one is with Seamus Kotyk who was in town early in the season last year.  It's interesting to read the article almost a year later and see how much has changed.  His good buddies Nick and Brian won the Stanley Cup and he's back in Canada as the goalie coach for the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds as was announced today . Congrats Seamus and good luck!


This London born player had quite the ride during his four years with the Ottawa 67’s: he won the OHL Dinty Moore trophy in 97/98 as the first year goaltender with the best regular season goals against average (2.66), was named to the 98/99 OHL All Star team, was a member of the 1999 67’s Memorial Cup winning team and had the tournament’s best GAA with 2.83 (Roberto Luongo was 4th with a GAA of 3.67), and won the 2000-01 Wayne Gretzky award as the MVP of the OHL playoffs backstopping the 67’s to an unexpected OHL Championship and another trip to the Memorial Cup. Oh, and during that time he had his 1999/00 season cut short by a heart arrhythmia that needed corrective surgery (think the Monster Leaf Gustafson).

His most memorable moment as a 67’s? His very last game on home ice to win the OHL Championship in 2001 and a return trip to the Memorial Cup. “There were about 4 of us that had played 4 years together and those guys were like my brothers. No one expected us to make it through the second round and we had gone on this unbelievable run. To win the last game I would ever play in this arena in front of these fans…I remember Jonny Zion jumped right into me and I have a picture on my wall from the Ottawa Sun with everyone around the net, Lance Galbraith, Joey Talbot. That was us winning the Mem Cup among ourselves. It was a run that no one expected us to make and we did.”

He’s in Austria for the second time, playing for the HC Tiroler Wasserkraft Innsbruck. He just landed there in mid-January after the team he played for last year (also an Innsbruck team) folded at the end of the season.

Between Ottawa and Innsbruck, this 29 year old has covered a bit a ground. He was drafted by the Boston Bruins in the 5th round (147th overall) of the 1999 draft but never signed. The San Jose Sharks were lurking in still waters with an offer and he dressed for 7 games for the Sharks but never saw ice time. Seamus then spent 5 years with various teams in the professional minors in the US before getting a chance to play in Europe.

He had never travelled to Europe much less considered living there but when a former teammate asked him if he was interested in filling in for an injured goalie in Wolfsburg Germany, he leapt at the opportunity. From there, he played in the Austrian league for Jesenice (Slovenia) and Innsbruck.

His experience in Europe gave him new insights into how the European imports have to cope when they come to Canada. Simple things like understanding menus, figuring out how to mail stuff, shopping, and communicating with teammates.

On-ice memories are great but it was the friends, the growing up, the shared goals that stick with him. He still speaks with Mark Bell almost everyday, he’s playing with Luke Sellars in Innsbruck, and a few of them, including Nick Boynton and Brian Campbell try to get together once a year to catch up and play golf.

When I caught up with Seamus, he was in Ottawa catching up with old friends and practicing with the 67’s to keep in shape. He thoroughly enjoyed his visit in Ottawa and with the club – it was like he never left and was clearly touched by the warm welcome he received.

He hasn’t decided what he will do when his playing days are done so he’s keeping his options open. In the meantime, this very personable goalie is enjoying playing in Europe in the winter and figuring out what’s growing in the gardens at his waterfront home in the summer.

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