By Kristian Rasmussen
A Vancouver Canucks player is trading screaming fans for diaper duty while taking on his biggest challenge yet: fatherhood.
Mason Raymond, a part-time Columbia Valley resident and Vancouver Canucks’ winger who came within a puck’s width of the Stanley Cup last year, is gaining a different perspective on life after the birth of his son, 3-month-old Max.
“There are tough days at the rink, or great days at the rink, but you come home and you don’t think about that,” Mason said in an exclusive interview with The Pioneer.
“Hockey is just a game and it is a business that I am in right now for a living. The birth of a son and child is something very special. If you get too tied up in thinking about the game you can back away and hold your little baby boy, or girl, and think about how lucky you really are.”
Mason, who is originally from Cochrane, Alberta, chose to spend his summer with his family on Lake Windermere because of his history with the valley. The hockey player and his wife both had family homes in the community during their youth, where they spent long weekends exploring the area.
“My wife, Max, and I cherish and love everyday that we get to spend in this valley,” Mason said. “We feel that this is a place where there is relaxation and very kind people. We love it!”
Mason’s road to a relaxing Columbia Valley summer has been a rocky one. He is still recovering from two fractured vertebrae and nerve and tissue damage sustained during the 2011 Stanley Cup final clash between the Canucks and the Boston Bruins.
The injury occurred when Bruins defenceman Johnny Boychuk held down Mason’s head and slammed him backwards into the boards.
The injury to his back resulted in some of the fiercest pain that he has ever experienced, the hockey star said. Dealing with the recovery has been an equally tough process.
“I wore a [back] brace 24/7 for two months and never took it off,” he said. “From going to barely being able to touch my toes to being back to the point where I am in full health is incredible.”
Mason has been spending countless hours in the gym with physiotherapists and personal trainers to return him back to full strength for the next hockey season.
“I have worked extremely hard to get back to a place where I think I can operate on a competitive level,” he said. “This is a summer that is huge for me for working out and getting stronger off the ice.”
Mason plans to step up his game for next season by enjoying himself more on the ice.
“I want to move forward and have fun because when I am having fun I am playing good hockey,” he said.
“I want to get back to my career year where I was able to score 20+ goals individually. I still believe that I am a player who can put up some good numbers and can help produce points for the team.”
The Canucks have lofty goals and anything short of a cup is disappointing because the team got so close last year, Mason added.
Before he heads back into the trenches next season, Mason plans to spend his time enjoying the valley rays and having fun with his family.
“It is a completely different lake life now,” Mason said. “There are a few less hours on the boat with more baby duties, but my wife and I are so proud to be parents and are enjoying it thoroughly.”