Beyond the Numbers: Christian Gaudet – Getting Energy From Being With People
This occasional series features GGFL employees who dedicate their own time to volunteering. Here we meet Manager of Assurance, Christian Gaudet, a former professional hockey player.
To appreciate Christian Gaudet’s dedication to hockey, and young hockey players, it helps to know a little about Christian himself.
Here’s the short version:
Former captain of the Moncton Wildcats and University of Moncton Aigles Bleus and the co-founder of Goody’s Ball Hockey, the longest running youth ball hockey league in the greater Moncton area. He is a Chartered Professional Accountant for GGFL and an assistant coach with the University of Ottawa men’s hockey team, and on Monday nights, he works with the kids from the Ottawa East Minor Hockey Association. Christian lives with his wife in Ottawa and returns home to Moncton every summer to run the ball hockey program. (COVID-19 has temporarily pushed those activities into the past tense).
Absent is reference to his professional career as a centre – tantalizingly close to living the NHL dream. Springfield Falcons in the AHL; Dayton Bombers in Ohio, and the Allen Americans in Texas.
“I always tell people, I’m good, but I’m not great,” says Christian. “It’s my hard work and attitude that has always set me apart.” (He did play one NHL-level game for the New York Islanders in an exhibition game against the Montreal Canadiens: “We won 3-2,” he says. “It was pretty special.)”
While playing, Christian took the courses necessary to eventually become a Chartered Professional Accountant.
Christian met his wife Catherine in 2005, the year Moncton Wildcats won the President’s Cup (League championship).
“Without her,” he says, “I would have definitely under achieved in both hockey and life. Her work ethic and discipline is like nothing I’ve ever seen before. It definitely rubbed off on me.”
Aside from her biopharmaceutical science degree, she has a nursing and medical degree and is now completing her internal medicine residency.
Christian is from the French-Canadian village of Memramcook, New Brunswick, about thirty minutes from Moncton. He’s known as ‘Goody’ in the hockey fraternity, courtesy of Anglophone hockey announcers during his early playing days who mispronounced Gaudet – and hence ‘Goody’s Ball Hockey.’
Helping young hockey players and coaching coaches, as he does with Ottawa East Minor Hockey Association, is an extension of who he is.
It was on the recommendation of an Ottawa East parent that led hockey pundit Bob McKenzie to include Christian’s story in the second edition of his book ‘Everyday Hockey Heroes.’
“I like the feeling of making a difference,” says Christian. “Volunteer work is part of who we are as hockey players. When you’re done playing professional hockey, or hockey in general, you miss it. So my volunteer work is very much about my attachment to hockey.”
Christian launched his summer ball hockey school in 2008 as an inexpensive training alternative, and a change for kids jaded by too much ice time.
“It was financially difficult for my parents to pay for all the different hockey things that I wanted to do,” he says. “There was nothing available for kids whose families didn’t have much money. If you wanted to follow the pack, you needed to play in hockey schools that are super expensive. I created this program to give them an affordable alternative.”
“Nowadays, people spend too much time and money to keep their kids playing on ice and the kids get sick of it. So ball hockey is a change of pace. You’re still working on your hockey skills, but you don’t feel like you’re working on your hockey skills, which is the point.”
Goody’s Ball Hockey isn’t all about ball hockey. Christian brings in community specialists to help teach the kids life skills such anti-bullying strategies and the avoidance of drugs and alcohol. And over the years, they have raised more than $10,000 for Pro Kids which is for families having difficulties paying for their kids’ sporting activities.
He also brings in hockey pals to interact with the kids. Philadelphia Flyers defenceman Phil Myers returns home to Moncton in the summer, plays with Goody’s adult ball hockey group as part of his training and devotes time to the younger groups.
“I have kids that started the program and every year it’s been fun to see them grow from being shy little kids to volunteer referees and coaches to paid employees to working a great job for our community I feel really proud of these kids and whenever something goes wrong in their life, or they need support, they know that I’m available for a phone call.”
During his summers he works remotely from New Brunswick for GGFL.
“They are 100% on board with me working remotely,” he says. “So during the day I work for GGFL and in the evening I go to play with the kids.”
Christian says he gets energy from interacting with people.
“What I miss the most about hockey is being part of a team,” he says. “I like the team mindset and being on a team where the goal is to get the best final product right. It’s what we do at the firm: work together to give our clients the best service possible.”
COVID-19 is a barren time for anyone who gets so much energy and satisfaction from interacting with other people. Which might explain why Christian has corralled a group of GGFL colleagues for daily lunchtime workout sessions on Zoom.
“We have a nice little group,” he says. “It’s a great way to see people and stay active.”