Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Colborne Has Family's Support As Draft Nears

From: Calgary Herald
by George Johnson

Dreams know no denomination. No demographics. They may be small, personal and quietly framed in black and white. They may be large, public and splashed in bold colors.

Male or female. Young or old. Rich or poor.

There is no exclusivity on dreams. No rules. No compromises. No limits. Everyone can dream.

That is the wonder of them.

"My dream,'' says DU recruit Joe Colborne, "since I was three or four years old, has been to play in the NHL.''

Not an unusual dream for an 18-year-old Canadian kid. A kid who grew up supporting his hometown Calgary Flames. Who cried when his favourite player, Al MacInnis, was dealt over contract issues to the St. Louis Blues (the Flames wept openly, too, after getting only a brief sampling of replacement Phil Housley's competitive fire).

Joe Colborne, Doyle Cup winner, playoff MVP and star of the Alberta Junior Hockey League Camrose Kodiaks, is off in the fall to the University of Denver to continue his studies, hockey and otherwise. This week, he travels to Ottawa to sit in Scotiabank Place, like countless others, and hopes to hear his name called by a team, any team; waiting, wondering, worrying.

Not so different, really, than thousands of other 18-year-old Canadian kids.

Except in one way.

Joe Colborne is a rich 18-year-old Canadian kid.

A very rich 18-year-old Canadian kid.

His dad, Paul, happens to be chairman of TriStar Oil and Gas. Happens to be a millionaire many times over.

That fact is, aside from the big body and willowy-soft hands, what sets Colborne apart. He understands this. Just as he realizes he's had advantages others have not.

Joe Colborne certainly doesn't expect to be lionized for growing up wealthy. Neither, however, does he appreciate being stereotyped by it.

"I'm used to it by now,'' says Colborne, ranked 30th among North America skaters by Central Scouting in January. "I've had to put up with it my whole career.

"My upbringing has been different from a lot of people's. I get annoyed with the question, sometimes. But I'm proud of my parents, proud of my family, proud of the way I was brought up.''

The Colbornes are an athletic family. Paul was a quarterback at the University of Calgary and with the old junior Calgary Mohawks; his mother, Jan, a competitive gymnast. His three sisters all play basketball at either the collegiate, university or high-school levels.

"We've always encouraged our kids to get involved in sports,'' says Paul. "Sports teaches you so many life lessons, so many lessons you can use later in business. Perseverance. Hard work. Teamwork. Not being afraid to make decisions. Getting along with people. Getting up after your butt has been kicked.

"Joe chose hockey. I think he could've been just as successful in baseball if he'd decided that way.''

How early, or late, he'll be selected this weekend in Ottawa is anyone's guess. He's projected by some as a first-rounder, despite the unorthodox route -- AJHL to NCAA -- chosen. What seems unanimous is that there's plenty of raw material on hand to mold, polish and buff to a luminous shine.

Joe Colborne admits he doesn't exactly fit the standard-issue profile established for budding NHLers: born and reared in, say, Moose Jaw or Parry Sound, from a Corner Gas-style middle-class family. None of the tales of financial sacrifice or personal hardship. None of that Don Cherry blue-collar jazz. No easy-to-write, easy-to-embrace against-the-odds storyline.

And because of that, Colborne has come in for a healthy dose of skepticism. Scouts like his build, six-foot-five, and those soft hands. He could reach 220 to 225 pounds in three years or so, and size, as former Flames GM Cliff Fletcher always says, is the only skill that can't be taught.

Due to the affluent upbringing, though, his inner drive has come under question. Maybe he doesn't want it enough. Could be too soft. Skeptics wonder about his motivation.

"Some of this stuff,'' says his dad, "is ridiculous.

"People that say those things haven't seen him in the weight room or out back in the garage we converted into a shooting shed, on his Rollerblades, hour after hour.

"He's done very well in school, too'' -- averaging 90 to 95 per cent at Camrose Composite High. "Joe's very driven.

"He's a worker.''

Kid Colborne adds that character trait is down to having the ideal role model right across the dinner table from him all those years.

"My dad is the hardest-working person I know. Up at 5:30, gone all day and then back home to take the kids to practice or watch us play games. He's worked very hard to get where he has.

"He and my mom instilled that in all of us. I have parents who have been successful because they've been willing to put in the time, put in the effort.

"The biggest thing they've taught me is that when you want something, go for it. My coaches, my teammates, my trainers, people, they understand how. They're there. They know.''

Going for it is something of a family motto. ..."Jan worked to put me through law school,'' says Paul. "And, really, my goal was to be a good local corporate lawyer. But then an opportunity in the oilpatch came up. I left a good job to pursue it. Jan supported me. We had four kids, a mortgage and no money. It was a risk.

"Joe took a risk, too. He left home and went off to Notre Dame at 15 to play hockey for Dale Derkatch. But he wanted to improve as a hockey player, wanted to push himself.''

Colborne doesn't view the draft weekend as make or break.

"I'm going to go enjoy the experience,'' says Colburne, who has interviews set up with a few teams upon arriving in Ottawa. "I was a little nervous at the Combine (in Toronto), but strangely I don't feel any right now.

"I see a whole of guys who are high draft picks that fall out of hockey after a few years. That doesn't guarantee you success. Where were Zetterberg and Datsyuk drafted?

"Where I'm drafted, or even whether I'm drafted, won't change my goal. And that's to have a long career.

"I haven't dreamed my whole life of being drafted. I've dreamed of playing in the NHL.''

It's quite true Joe Colborne needn't work a day in his life. He just chooses to, in order to chase the brass ring that glitters for so many.

In the final analysis, his family bank account won't land him a pro contract. Net worth doesn't mean squat when the puck's skipping near your blueline and there's three inches of elbow to go through to clear the zone. A killer financial portfolio won't count for nearly as much as dropping courageously down to block that shot a man short or fighting through the thresher of sticks to get position in front of the net.

Those are the checks and balances that matter to general managers and coaches in the bright lights and the big cities. Those are the investments that pay handsome dividends.

"To me,'' says his dad proudly, "he's earned it, to in the next three or four years have the chance to realize his dream.''

Dreams, after all, being for everyone.


Anonymous said...

So um ... is skinny Jesus coming to DU this year or next?

dggoddard said...

He's playing for DU this upcoming season. :-)

Anonymous said...

Sweet. There will be WCHA D-Men frothing at the mouth to lay a bit one on him. I figure he's softer than post-Bina Paukovich.

Anonymous said...

big not bit.

dggoddard said...

Colborne's not scared. His biggest worry will be figuring out if its DU or BC's turn to knock North Dakota out of the NCAA playoffs.

Anonymous said...

"softer than post-Bina Paukovich..."

Hardy ****ing har. Post-Bina Pauko was still harder than anyone on your team, jack.

Anonymous said...

Not quite spanky.

Before Bina, Paukovich skated through his checks and was a physical force. After he broke that kid's neck he was never the same. That's why he toils in the ECHL instead of playing in the show like everyone figured he would.

Anonymous said...

12:18.....thanks for the brilliant insight, chucko. You must be one of those Sioux fans that still can't get over Pauko, eh??

Think maybe the refs were looking at Pauko every second of every shift after the Bina incident??? Pauko's every action was scrutinized after that hit. Of course he toned down his game and rightfully so. Still harder than anyone on your team, homes.