It’s only fitting Dave Chyzowski is back in a position to share his remarkable hockey journey.
The 48-year-old is the new head coach of the Delta Hockey Academy’s Girls Prep Team and also an assistant with the Vancouver Giants. He has moved back into a teaching role after working as Director of Sales and Marketing for the Kamloops Blazers.
Both programs feature players aspiring to reach the next level and you can’t find anyone better than Chyzowski to share his experience.
He was a Western Hockey League star who captained Canada to the World Junior Hockey Championship in 1990. A year earlier he was taken second overall in the 1989 NHL Draft by the New York Islanders and his pro career included stops in three North American leagues and another seven years in Europe.
If that’s not enough, there was also over a decade coaching in Kamloops Minor Hockey where his sons Nick and Ryan went on to play in the WHL. Ryan, 19, is currently an assistant captain with the Medicine Hat Tigers.
“It was when my oldest boy graduated from the Blazers and moved out of the house to go to school (in Waterloo) when I started missing hockey,” Chyzowski explained. “Then I started bumping into kids I coached when they were 10, 11 or 12 years-old. They started telling me things I had taught them and things I said. It all made sense to them 10 to 15 years later. I realized I must have made some kind of an impact on them.
“The experience and the stuff I have gone through in my life. Everybody tells me I should write a book but I’m not writing a book. I think it would be an injustice not teaching kids what I have experienced.”
Chyzowski certainly knows about the highs and lows of a playing career too.
Despite a dominant junior career in Kamloops, he would only play in 126 NHL games over six seasons. The bulk of the time was spent in the minors, including stops with six teams in the International Hockey League.
Chyzowski concluded his career overseas in Germany then Austria. His wife Cindy and his sons continued to live in Kamloops and would make extended visits through until the end of season in March.
Over a decade later, it’s a similar arrangement with Chyzowski now residing in Delta while Cindy remains at the family home in Kamloops and overseeing the mammography screening department at Royal Inland Hospital where she has worked for the past 25 years.
“It’s just three hours away,” smiled Chyzowski. “I was going back and forth for the entire month of August and now I have moved down here for the season.”
His role with the Giants is working one-one-one with players that might be struggling to find their game — again a scenario Chyzowski knows all too well.
“Those kids going through slumps think it’s the end of the world. It’s fun to see them because I see myself,” Chyzowski laughed.
“Everybody wants to score goals. First of all, you need to hit the net and you need to go to the net. Don’t expect the puck to go in. (NHL hall-of-famer) Mike Bossy’s philosophy was shooting 5-hole every time. I tell kids you’re not good enough to hit the corner every time.”
At DHA, Chyzowski is not only coaching in an academy environment for the first time but working with girls too. He couldn’t be more impressed.
“It’s been unbelievably gratifying. They are phenomenal kids. (Laughing) I’m used to yelling and screaming at boys to the point where my teeth are falling out. Honestly, they have a completely different mindset. It has been a breath of fresh air for me. I love it.
“I see them in the gym. I see them in the classroom. They are so dedicated that it motivates me to make sure I am doing my due diligence to be the best I can be every day to give them the best opportunity.”