Matt Sekeres: Sekeres and Price, a special holiday edition show here. Hope you're enjoying time with your families. Matt Sekeres, Blake Price and the show presentation of Audi Downtown Vancouver.
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Matt Sekeres: But I'll guess your trusted source of free casino games, poker strategy and sports odds and just looking ahead on the college football card here in New Year's Day, obviously, a very big one in college football. Oklahoma State- Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl. Big thing about bowl games is motivation. Notre Dame probably not happy to be there wishing they were in a college football playoff game. Oklahoma State, I think, delighted to be in a huge bowl game. They're getting two and a half points or plus 115 on the money line cowboys against the Irish.
Our guest today is Mason Raymond and a few things stick out when I think about Mason Raymond's career as a Vancouver Canuck. Number one, just a beautiful skater. He made the game and the act of skating look as graceful and as elegant and as pristine as anybody who has come through the Vancouver Canucks. Number two, this should be number one, but just down to earth, nice guy. An Alberta farm boy who is so approachable, nice was his brand, I think, with the Vancouver Canucks. And then of course, Raymond Ballard, and a third or a second depending on-
Blake Price: I totally forgot he was on that. It's funny, it's become a phrase more than you remember that those are actually players involved. Raymond Ballard in a second or a third, yes.
Matt Sekeres: And one of the things he told us, and this was off air, was early in his career in particular, he was not prepared for that, he did not want to hear his name in trade rumors or anything like that. That, really, early on in his career, he avoided the media, he was really very much sizing up what was going on in the room as a young player in a Canadian market.
Blake Price: The thing we do forget sometimes, and the collective we, folks, media and fans alike, they're human beings and they're all different. And what one guy deems is doable, tolerable, achievable, doesn't work for the other guy. And, for Mason Raymond, he would do media but didn't love it and often leaned on some clutch phrases and that sort of thing. But it was just because he, and I think he would admit to us now, be far more able to deal with that interview now as you'll see (crosstalk) .
Matt Sekeres: Well, by the end of his career, 10 years and in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto so-
Blake Price: Yeah.
Matt Sekeres: ... he played in-
Blake Price: Some good reps.
Matt Sekeres: ... played in media markets. I think it was easy and breezy with them but, early on, it was a little bit more difficult then, understandably. And of course, Mason Raymond, one of the players that hit that injury list in the 2011 Stanley Cup final. We all remember the scene, game six in Boston with Johnny Boychuk in the corner but we come to learn something in this interview that makes it even more stark.
Blake Price: Yeah, you really feel for that whole situation. It was one of many in the Stanley Cup final and we can now say that was the final are you kidding me moment of the Stanley Cup final for the Vancouver Canucks and, yeah. And yet, fond memories as you'll soon hear.
Matt Sekeres: He played 546 National Hockey League games, 374 of them for the Vancouver Canucks and he still visits our fair city. It's our pleasure to welcome to the Go Goat studio, Go Goat sports studio and Sekeres and Price Mr. Mason Raymond. Nice to see you again.
Mason Raymond: Yeah, great to be here. Thanks for having me.
Matt Sekeres: I mentioned you come here, still, periodically with your wife, Megan. So, you're still in touch with the city. Tell us about that.
Mason Raymond: Yeah, we're out here, easily, every four to six weeks. Lo and behold, I guess, it's more to get away. We love this city, we started our family here, we were six years here, we had our first child here, our son Max. And anyway, we love it here. It's a big part of coming back because we have so many fond memories. But the 2011 Cup when I broke my back, I still come out and see a guy for treatment here that I speak very highly of. But (inaudible) fit to train and my wife has been through some health stuff, too. So, we come out and get treatment out of it, get a dinner out of it and enjoy the city so-
Matt Sekeres: That's great to have that connection.
Blake Price: Short flight from Calgary.
Matt Sekeres: For a city that meant as much as this one did to your career and you went elsewhere as well, but that's just nice that it's a maintained link, if you will.
Mason Raymond: For sure. I honestly say it, our fondest memories in my hockey career we're here. Again, we had our first home, we had our first child, so many firsts year for us and we had successful years. So, again, fond memories. As a matter of fact, my wife wanted to move back here post career-
Matt Sekeres: Oh, yeah?
Mason Raymond: ... so it was definitely in the consideration. And I'm back in Calgary now and that's where home is for us but-
Blake Price: You're both prairie folks. So, you're back where you belong, right?
Mason Raymond: I think so.
Blake Price: Yes.
Mason Raymond: But again, we sure enjoy our trips out here and what an amazing city.
Blake Price: Well, I'm team Megan. If they're going to move here ... We were going to get into this but you brought it up. Does the back still give you trouble?
Mason Raymond: No, it really doesn't. Again, it's something that I continue to stay on. I like to be active, still continue to work out, get treatment. I look at treatment as an investment in your life and your body for long term. And coaching my kid, he's nine now, so I want to be able to keep up with him. But overall, no, things are really good there. I look back on that and, at the time, it was scary, you didn't know what was going to happen or whatever but I can honestly say I'm probably a better person from it today. From what I've been through, the struggles, the people I've met, all those types of things make you a better person in the long run.
Blake Price: We have to say, you look terrible. For those that-
Matt Sekeres: We'll post some photos.
Blake Price: For those that can't see, he looks like he's 28 and you're probably, what, 20 pounds below playing weight. Is that about right?
Mason Raymond: Yeah, it's not 20. I know it maybe looks like that but I'm probably eight pounds less than playing weight.
Blake Price: Yeah.
Mason Raymond: I'm one of the few, probably going to get punished for saying this, but I go the other way. A lot of guys end up putting some weight on but no, (inaudible) , again, I'm still super active and continue to enjoy.
Blake Price: Are you opening cattle gates? Are you actually having to be laborious in work?
Mason Raymond: I'm all over. The versatile player in the hockey team can be versatile anywhere. I guess you practice what you preach and breed a good culture but yeah. No, I feel good, I feel good in shape. I still feel there's times I can play. And alumni hockey and these events that we do with charities, you miss the game from that regard and you still have that jam and wanting to still go.
Blake Price: We always tease Cliff Ronning out here. He's legendary on the alumni games because he takes it so seriously. Who's that on the Calgary side of things? We know Brendan Morrison is out there playing some alumni games there. Who's serious in the group?
Mason Raymond: I don't know if there's anybody as serious as Cliffy gets going but maybe Jim Peplinski.
Blake Price: Yeah, really?
Mason Raymond: He gets going pretty good out there but it's fun. It's fun how the game starts a little slower. Guys always say, " What do you miss the most about the game?" And for me, you miss the guys, you miss being around the locker room and just having that camaraderie and, obviously, with COVID we haven't had that. We've had a few skates in Calgary, it's a great group there and it's fun. Yeah, like I said, it starts a little slow. As it starts getting towards the end, you sure see the pace pick up and what guys got. So, nothing but good times there, too.
Matt Sekeres: From Cochrane, Alberta, did I read this correctly? You had the quintessential backyard rink? Is that where you first were introduced to the game?
Mason Raymond: Totally. We had some dugouts and would skate on those but, no, dad would go out and would flood the rink. There was no tarp down or anything like that, he would just start out there with the hose and start packing the snow and packing the snow and-
Matt Sekeres: This is old school style.
Blake Price: This is.
Matt Sekeres: This is shoveling it out and then flooding it and-
Mason Raymond: Yeah.
Matt Sekeres: ... it's not easy-
Mason Raymond: No.
Matt Sekeres: ... as I recall.
Mason Raymond: There was a lot of hours put into it and fond, fond memories from getting home, throwing a quick snack in your stomach and, literally, going off the deck and it was right there for you. So, that's where it started. There's no question about it and I still believe to this day that is some of the best places for kids to get their tricks. And my dad would always still say to me, "Go on the ice and real games and play shinny."
Blake Price: Yeah.
Mason Raymond: " That's where you felt the most confident and you had the most fun."
Blake Price: Did you ever get one of those freak rainstorms in the prairies where the prairies freeze over and you can skate for miles?
Mason Raymond: To get all the chinook that comes into Alberta but-
Blake Price: Yeah.
Mason Raymond: Yeah, they're there. They seem to be here more now than they were back then. But we just had a cold snap in Calgary and everybody's talking about flooding their rinks and here we are in December where you'd be skating in November years and years ago but-
Blake Price: Yeah.
Mason Raymond: Yeah, definitely. No, that's a nice thing back home is you can definitely get on the outdoor rink and that's where the dreams are made.
Blake Price: Yeah.
Matt Sekeres: So, you start making your way up the ranks and you chose to go the Junior A route in the AJHL. Did major junior not show a lot of interest early on? Were you a bit of a late bloomer? Take me through that.
Mason Raymond: Yeah, to say the least. Believe it or not, a lot of people wouldn't know this but there was a point in my career when I came out of midget hockey where I was starting to think about anything post hockey, that was the end of my hockey career at that point. I was a super late bloomer, a small guy. I was okay on my teams but didn't really excel until I had the opportunity to go Junior A in Camrose and it really blossomed from there. But yeah, that's where it took off for me. But at one point, I was thinking after high school, what's next? It's not going to be hockey and am I ever glad it did turn out the way it did and things have gone well but I was, at one point, where it was at.
Matt Sekeres: I can't imagine you being a late bloomer with that stride of yours.
Blake Price: Exactly. That's what I was thinking.
Matt Sekeres: Generally, the skaters go to the top of the list. I coach minor hockey, the skaters, we just love the skaters. Did the skating not click until late?
Mason Raymond: Again, I didn't mature, I didn't go through puberty. At such a late age, I was so much smaller-
Blake Price: Really? Yeah, yeah.
Mason Raymond: ... than everyone else. I'm coaching my son and the difference between a year or two, probably what used to be two is just the difference in strength is huge, right?
Matt Sekeres: Yes, it matters. Yeah.
Mason Raymond: Big difference in these kids. So, for me, again, when I say late, I was 15, 16 before things started to change for me and I was able to catch up and start to skate better and yeah. So, that was the route and it's funny. Major junior didn't really pose any option for me at all until I was in my junior career in the AJHL and I had some offers by that point but I was focused on going to university in the states.
Blake Price: Well, tell me about the 2005 playoff run with Camrose. I know you didn't quite get it done in the final but, also, there's a legend of you coming out of a hospital room in a hospital bed to lead the Royal Bank Cup and scoring. What was the story there?
Mason Raymond: Yeah. God, you're picking my brain. I got to think which one it was but-
Blake Price: Which visit?
Mason Raymond: Yeah.
Blake Price: You miss some games because of, apparently, dehydration.
Mason Raymond: Yeah, okay.
Blake Price: With you in the hospital, you're-
Mason Raymond: That was a little prior. So, I had think I lost 11 pounds. Again, here we are talking about losing weight again. But yeah, I had a pretty bad virus prior to that and missing games but came back. You're young, you're like a rubber band, you rebound like nothing and yeah, we didn't have the ending we wanted. The Royal Bank Cup, we lost in the finals to the host team but junior hockey was some of my fondest memories as far as a stepping stone in my career. Again, another pivotal point in my career with the coach (inaudible) who is still with that organization, I still talk to with this day. Again, first time out of the house, learning to deal with billets and just things that you didn't get when you lived at home.
But yeah, I remember being pretty sick there, getting out of that and the Royal Bank Cup was a good one for me. I think it put me on the map a bit with starting out, some scouts would be there and such like that but great tournament and, again, fond, fond memories of junior hockey.
Blake Price: What was the interest in you for NCAA hockey at that point? As you say, it put you on the map, how many schools are beating a path to your door at that point?
Mason Raymond: When I first came out of midget hockey, I committed to go to Camrose and thought, " Let's try it out here." Right away, I had quite a few schools interested. I remember flying up to Alaska right away, Western Michigan, Denver and then I ended up going to Minnesota Duluth. But I did have quite a few schools knocking on the door and I did commit my first year there down to Minnesota Duluth and so glad I did. I'm biased towards that route.
Now, being retired out of hockey, I get a lot of questions on what people do. I go back and you play one year, 10 years, 20 years. Having that education and going to play university hockey and kill two birds with one stone. You're getting good education and play in a great level of hockey. And I think you're seeing more and more players, especially now. But in '05 and those areas, I don't think as many players came out of-
Blake Price: I think you were just at the start of it becoming a little bit more normalized. I think that was just about it. Yeah, yeah, and now it's commonplace.
Mason Raymond: Yeah. So, anyway, love that route. Nothing but fond memories. Again, I say it about everything right now, but those were big pieces. Maturing and growing up and getting into not only life and having a successful hockey career.
Blake Price: You look how good the BC and Alberta leagues are now-
Mason Raymond: Yeah.
Blake Price: ... and the players they produce.
Matt Sekeres: You opted out of your first NHL draft year? Told teams, don't worry about ... What was the story there? Because you're at Duluth, things are starting to go well, you were drafted but your first draft year, there's a story there. Tell us.
Mason Raymond: Yeah. So, again, you almost learn as you go. I was a late bloomer, my birthday is September 17, so I think 15th is the cutoff.
Blake Price: Right.
Mason Raymond: So, number one, I was drafted with the Crosby (inaudible) '87s, which was the lockout year but I'm actually an '85 born. Anyway, I didn't have much of an agent at that point either because I was a late bloomer. Anyway, I ended up getting on with CEA Sports but they advised and said, " Listen, you might go, you might not. It might be one of those things." So, I took their lead. I think it worked out for the best. It was just one of those things that just happened, it fell into place.
And then, that year I got drafted, they didn't really have a clue. We said, "Well, you're going to get drafted. You could go fourth round, fifth round." I had some meetings with a whole bunch of teams in Vancouver and, anyway, it was an odd year because there was no draft because of the lockout years. So, I got a phone call, lo and behold, there was, 51st over in the Canucks.
Blake Price: Yeah, do you know who was banging the table for Mason Raymond with the Canucks? Do you know which scout or which executive was-
Mason Raymond: Well, (Stan Steemer) . Is that who you're thinking about?
Blake Price: I heard Nonis, I heard Steemer as well.
Mason Raymond: Nonis. Nonis was-
Blake Price: Yeah, you tell me.
Mason Raymond: Yeah, Steemer was definitely up there. There was a whole bunch of guys that are still here, Jonathan Wall, that are still in this organization. But Steemer was definitely a big part of it. I remember seeing him a lot and, again, those relationships and it still seeing them with the organization, it's pretty neat to see.
Matt Sekeres: Two years at Minnesota Duluth, you sign, you go to Manitoba and you score in your pro debut. Take us through those.
Blake Price: Sport is easy, isn't it?
Matt Sekeres: Yeah, yeah.
Mason Raymond: Yeah, exactly.
Matt Sekeres: I'll be up for the NHL in a minute. Right?
Mason Raymond: Yeah, I remember that fondly, too. It's your first pro goal ever, I guess, and I was green. Again, you're young, you come out of college, I wasn't really knowing who I was or anything like that but yeah, that was exciting. And again, I got some family ties too being in Manitoba. So, to play in that rink was pretty cool, too. And yeah, I think it was a game winning goal too, actually. So, fond memory, I actually still have that puck. It's at home now, I've got a nice little memorabilia spot set up at this new house that we built. And yeah, it's neat to think back. That was what seemed like forever ago but here I am showing my kids this stuff and it's special.
Blake Price: Top shelf for your first AHL and NHL goal, I'm sure, right?
Mason Raymond: Well, they don't ask how, they ask how many (crosstalk) . Yeah.
Matt Sekeres: Who's the coach of that Manitoba? AV was here, right?
Mason Raymond: Yeah, (inaudible) , that was Scott or Neil.
Matt Sekeres: That's right.
Mason Raymond: Yeah.
Matt Sekeres: And who were you playing with? Do you remember? Linemates (inaudible) because Manitoba, at that time, was starting to produce a lot of players for the team, too. So, it was-
Mason Raymond: Yeah, I don't remember exactly who was on my line. But who helped assist on my first goal is Jason Jaffray.
Matt Sekeres: Yeah.
Mason Raymond: He assisted on my first NHL goal here in Anaheim against [Jean S. Giguere 00:17:10]. So, he was there, I remember him. Mike Keane was down there, he was-
Blake Price: He's still playing.
Matt Sekeres: Yeah.
Mason Raymond: ... (crosstalk) , right? It's crazy. So, again, great group of guys and, again, you go through all these steps and all these parents are always asking all these questions. But I look back on my career and all these things that we've led up to even just to this point, they're so instrumental and how you get to that next level and continue to mature as a player.
Blake Price: It's a journey as a person and as a player, too. And we talk about this all the time and a lot of the time it's in the dark moments of hockey news where we say it's not built for everybody. You have to be your own shepherd in a lot of ways. You have to be your own parent in a lot of ways because your parents are saying goodbye to you at a pretty young age. So, what was that pressure like when you look at the totality of from midget to the AHL having to be your own moral compass? You're getting your parents help from afar and stuff like that but, when you look back on that, are you amazed you made it through as a normal person thing?
Mason Raymond: At times, for sure. You need to have some luck, there's no question about it, timing works good with everything and, again, the game has changed so much since from what I went through to how it is now and how things are progressing and how guys take off very little time in the offseason and skating coaches and all that stuff. But no, I look back and you're proud of it. Again, the stats of how many players make the NHL, it's not easy. So, it's something I look back on, I'm proud of. Had a lot of help along the way, support of family and all those things. But again, I draw so many parallels between sports and life and what it teaches you in the game and-
Blake Price: That's why we want people to play them, right? There is that parallel.
Mason Raymond: So true. So, again, it's the amount of people I've met and what I've gone through, again, I'm very thankful for and, yeah, that's a good memory.
Blake Price: So, the Canucks call because you sent somebody to knock up Brendan Morrison so that you could get a roster spot?
Matt Sekeres: That's right. We needed to take down the iron man.
Blake Price: This isn't for our first call off, right?
Matt Sekeres: This is Matt Sekeres in here. Is this what happened here? What do you remember on that?
Mason Raymond: So, when I talk about some of the luck, again, there's injuries all over and I still talk to (Bemo) frequently, he's in Calgary and we're skating on the alumni group and have some common interest. But yeah, I remember that vividly. He made the team out of camp, came up, played a little bit and went back down to the minors and, anyway, when he ended up having that injury, that was a pretty severe injury for him and it opened the window for me and it snowballed from there and the fact that things got better for me, scored, and you establish yourself as an NHLer at that point. Yeah, I still joke with him. Every time we go out to eat or have lunch I'm like, " I think I'll buy for you again today. I still owe you for giving me that window of opportunity."
Blake Price: Well, he was on quite an iron man streak at the time. I can remember calling Steve Tambellini about it, it was a big story. Like, "Is Bemo going to make it this Thursday for the game?" And sure enough, he did it and the streak snapped but boy, you took the opportunity and ran with it, Mason. It was a terrific rookie year, 21 points in 49 games.
Mason Raymond: Yeah.
Blake Price: You established yourself. Must have been a blast to go through that.
Mason Raymond: Yeah. No, again, things just seemed to work and, for myself, I just was starting to learn more about me as a player and as a person and believing in myself and taking some opportunities and trying to run with them. Again, good support from family, Nonis, coaching staff and, again, getting opportunities to play and producing. And again, guys like Trevor Linden, Markus Naslund, Brendan Morrison, (Matthias) . The list goes on but those guys were instrumental in my career. Again, I think all these young guys have those types of players but they were so supportive of me, helped me through things, whatever. And again, I owe a lot to those guys.
Matt Sekeres: You become regular just as the team is ascending. Take us through those playoff years and bumping up against the Blackhawks wall.
Mason Raymond: We still reminisce about them and I'm talking Alex Burrows, Kevin Bieksa, Luongo, all those guys. We're good friends. Those were the glory years. I think we all look back on and the twins play a long time. We talk about those are the glory years of our hockey careers. We were a successful team, we had great cup runs, we had good playoff runs and we went through a lot, we battled through a lot. I think for a lot of players and fans, especially when Burrows slayed the dragon, that was a big change in this organization. We always talk, if we didn't win that game, where would this team be today?
Matt Sekeres: Mm- hmm (affirmative).
Mason Raymond: Not today but what would happen? They probably would have blown the team up to some degree, right? So-
Blake Price: Yeah, the legacy changes for a lot of players, right?
Mason Raymond: No question. So, classic Mike Keane quote was careers are made in playoffs. I always remember him saying that and, again, I still talk to those guys. But again, those days were so fun, we were a great team, we had a great group of guys, everybody got along so well and we pushed each other. We were that close. So close but so far, obviously, in 2011 at the cup run but, again, what we went through is something I'll never forget.
Blake Price: As frustrating as the initial Blackhawks series were, that made the 2011 win that much sweeter, I'm sure. That feeling of relief of we got one over on these guys, finally.
Mason Raymond: Yeah. Again, that was the first round, I believe. right? We-
Blake Price: You won the cup in the first round.
Mason Raymond: Yeah, we celebrated like that, that was a huge achievement for us. I think, again, were we up 3- 1 or 3-0?
Blake Price: 3- 1, yeah.
Mason Raymond: 3-0.
Blake Price: 3-0, probably is.
Mason Raymond: (inaudible) to 3-3. Again, it's a memorable moment like many Canucks fans thinks as players for us, too. So, yeah, special times. Again, we literally call them the glory days.
Blake Price: The run continues, of course, and just a really good Nashville series, had a lot of everything in it, Kessler goes crazy, of course. San Jose, a more succinct series, I think, than a lot of people expected. And, if you listen to Dan Boyle, the better team lost, of course, at the end of that game but you guys get into the Stanley Cup final. And, because it's an Eastern Conference team, the nature of the east in the playoffs, you don't really know much about the opponent, you face them once or twice depending on how the schedule was during those years. Do you have any idea what you're up against when you start game one of the Stanley Cup final? Do you have a sense of things other than you know it's going to be hard but do you really know the personality of the series? Did you forecast that?
Mason Raymond: No. I remember because we won in five games with Bieksa's overtime goal. We were waiting to see who was going to win-
Blake Price: A long time, yeah.
Mason Raymond: ... Austin or Tampa. And I remember as players, again, it's not like it's in your control but we thought we didn't care who we played. It's just whoever came out as we felt like we were ready and wanted to go. And I think they went to seven games, actually.
Blake Price: They did.
Mason Raymond: And anyway, Boston obviously came out and we were confident. Again, everything about our team, we believed in ourselves so much and, again, we all know the outcome, it didn't go how it was planned but we started two, nothing, things were good, we were up 3- 2. Obviously, there was a lot of events in between there that happened but, no, it's one of those ones that I think we still feel like there's unfinished ... Like Dan Boyle, we feel like the better team didn't win. But again, fond, fond memories.
Blake Price: The extenuating circumstances. Michael Sam has never played during that series. Your injury, (inaudible) injury, Aaron Rome's suspension.
Matt Sekeres: Kessler's playing on one hip.
Blake Price: At least he's playing. Guys had either actual concrete storylines.
Mason Raymond: Yeah.
Blake Price: It was kind of crazy. I'm imagining myself in your shoes and be tough not to have regrets because you just think if only half of those things happened, that would be a busy series but all of those things happened. You'd love to see what the universe in which, again, even just half of them happen.
Mason Raymond: For sure. Again, the what've, could've, should'ves. Reality is we obviously got beat but you always look back, you think of whoever. Who did Tampa pay two years ago? Well, Tampa won a cup, in halftime you barely remember who they even played, right?
Blake Price: (inaudible) , yeah.
Mason Raymond: So, again, going through all those and the good cup run we had and the playoff series against Chicago and all those, you realize how hard it is to get to the playoffs alone, let alone the playoffs. But to move on, to get up, to play in those games. But playoffs are another beast and, boy, is that the best time of year (crosstalk) .
Blake Price: Do you subscribe to the better to have loved and lost than to have never loved before? Are you happy he got there nevertheless?
Mason Raymond: Yeah. Again, if you ever get the privilege to wear that ring, I don't know what that feels like but, again, it's something special. And again, seeing it with these guys in Calgary, the flames guys, the '89 Cup run, we go to events and that's still what people want to see, the cup ring. It's amazing just what that can do for you as a person and everything. But anyway, again, I truly made sincere memories from that time and, again, the group of friends, the people we met and, I've said it once, I'll say it again, those were the glory days.
Matt Sekeres: I hate to bring it up but game six in Boston and you're going into the corner with Johnny Boychuck and you emerge with a fractured vertebrae and a terrifying scene that we all wondered is he going to be okay. What do you remember of it?
Mason Raymond: Yeah, that one replays a lot in my mind, still, to this day. But that was game six, we're up 3- 2, we're hoping to come out of there, we flew the families in, we flew everyone. We were open to leave there with a cup above our heads and it was 20 seconds in, first shift, I remember that puck going in the corner, going for that and just the awkwardest position. My butt went in the boards, head went down between my legs and I just remember the instant pain, the instant pain. You're laying on that ice and instant pain and, oddly enough, again, I talked about our families came and my wife, my parents and everybody, they were about six rows up.
Matt Sekeres: In that corner?
Mason Raymond: In that corner.
Matt Sekeres: Oh, get out.
Mason Raymond: Well, that's where all our family was and as a kid I was always taught by my dad, unless you're severely injured, you get off the ice, you get off the ice. He was joking, " No one ice fish." I'm looking at the ice, no ice fish and I replay that whole thing and I've come through all that and whatever. But in hindsight, I probably shouldn't have got up. What I know now ... Anyway, got up, got off the ice and went through that scenario. I remember laying in that dressing room being in so much pain and hearing that stupid buzzer of the Boston School four times-
Matt Sekeres: Oh, gosh.
Mason Raymond: ... which they were up four, nothing at that point. Number one, I knew I was severely injured, not to what extent.
Matt Sekeres: Yeah.
Mason Raymond: I knew that game was in jeopardy to some degree when you're down four, nothing after the first period and I was in an ambulance and off to the hospital. But there was a lot. I didn't know what the extent of the injury was, I was in the most pain I've ever been in. Once you get to the hospital and the x- rays and everything they're trying to tell you, " You have broken vertebraes and some damage your ligaments," you start to question your hockey career and where you're at. What a chain of events changing and the fact you're hoping to hoist a cup to hole in gut, is my career going to go on?
Blake Price: Remind me, where were you for game seven? Were you able to be in the rink for game seven?
Mason Raymond: Yeah, so I spent a couple of days in Boston there and then I ended up flying back which was the longest flight ever. And anyway, I was in a full brace from my back but I made it there about 20 minutes before game time. Again, and still so much hope and belief that we'd be hoisting a cup and you name it but no, it was (inaudible) . Those days, again, I felt like I was relearning how to walk, I really couldn't walk. It would take me a long time to walk 20 yards. And again, until I went through this and, again, we talked earlier here about meeting up with (inaudible) and meeting good people and going through it with the training staff and figuring out that this is going to recover and not needing surgery, all those different steps got me through it.
And yeah, it was a process. I think it was seven months later, I finally hopped the boards or whatever it was, which was a really quick recovery. Again, I credit a lot to the people I dealt with but it's that mental side of it that I wish ... You'll learn so much but there's always that piece in the back of your head thinking. Before that you were rubber band, you just always popped up from anything but, again, I've gone through that injury, I do think I'm a better person from it today in what I've learned and the people I met but, obviously, a significant part or a hurdle in my career.
Matt Sekeres: If I'm not mistaken, I think they put you on the jumbotron in game seven, right?
Mason Raymond: Yeah, they did.
Matt Sekeres: You waved to the fans and let everybody know you were okay.
Mason Raymond: Yeah, it was a weird one for me, too, and even to get to that I remember I had to walk around the back in the rink there and that took me a long time to get there. A, there was a lot of pain, I was on meds just trying to get there but I remember that boost. The hair on my neck even stands up right now thinking about that and the ovation I had from the fans was incredible. Again, still in hopes of winning that cup that night, literally. I always dreamt about skating around with it but, at that point I remember thinking, I don't care if I have to just touch it, whatever, you wanted to win it. But yeah, it was a special moment and it was a great ovation from the fans., for sure.
Blake Price: Well, it's the culture of hockey, we're not going to give up too much in terms of injuries, particularly in the Stanley Cup final but, in this case, there was real concern about you. So, I remember that moment being a relief that, " Oh, okay, he's here and we're seeing him all and he seems okay." Where did you watch game seven?
Mason Raymond: I stayed underneath just because I couldn't move very far.
Blake Price: That's in the room?
Mason Raymond: I stayed in the room, yeah, when I say underneath, sorry. But-
Blake Price: Did you watch it with anyone or-
Mason Raymond: Yeah, just the rest of the Black Aces and whoever over there and didn't watch much of the third because we were in a bit of trouble by that, things weren't looking good. But I think for some of the guys I know, they didn't even know what the extent of my injury was. Again, you're focusing on the game, getting ready for game seven, hopefully, to win that cup. And I think Jeff Tambellini went in for me. I remember he came back into the room, back into the locker room kind of thing and what do you say to a guy at that point? Go have fun, go do whatever you can but Jeff was an awesome guy. And again, of course, I wanted to be out there and couldn't be there with the guys. But yeah, it's funny to go back and live that and lived it and done some interviews like this and it's still it's so real for me. Obviously, it was over 10 years ago but that doesn't seem like it was that long ago when we live it again.
Blake Price: 546 NHL games and 542 of them were with Canadian franchises. You got a chance to play for your hometown flames and got a chance to play-
Matt Sekeres: In the center of the universe, too.
Blake Price: ... in Toronto.
Matt Sekeres: Yeah.
Blake Price: Yeah, right there in the core of this planet-
Matt Sekeres: It was a pretty good year, too, 19- goal season, yeah.
Blake Price: ... in Toronto. Tell us about your experiences in the other Canadian markets.
Mason Raymond: Yeah. You come from an organization like this and the teams we went through and the following, I think, we had from fans and everything was amazing. So, to go from here to Toronto, again, it really is. It's a whole nother level as far as media and expectations and original six team and a history and everything.
Matt Sekeres: Can you keep telling people that here that it's another level? We're not so big and bad here in Vancouver, honestly.
Mason Raymond: And it carry on from there and then I went to Calgary and Calgary seems small town-
Blake Price: Yeah.
Mason Raymond: ... compared. I think the media side and everything's bigger here. But it's funny, people always ask me that. I always played Canadian markets and, for me, I didn't really know any other way. They always asked me, " What was travel like the Eastern Conference?" Well, again, I played it for six years to start my career, it seemed normal. So, yeah, this is a smaller market media wise and everything, I think, especially more now than what it was in those days that we were on our cup run. But no, I love playing in front of fans and being there. You go to Florida, you go to Carolina, all of a sudden, after practice, you got two writers in there or something. You're like, "Is something wrong or what's going on?"
So, again, I enjoyed this market, the pressure was there. Of course, when things aren't going good and wasn't or if you want a game one, nothing it was, " Why didn't you win it three, nothing?" Well, we still won, right? But again, being part of that, being in the thing, in the limelight was something you just learn to love. And I'm proud to play most of my whole entire career, of course, in Canada.
Matt Sekeres: Affable guy. I think most people thought your brand was nice guy playing with the Canucks, I'm sure you were recognized a lot in this market and elsewhere. Tell us about being a local celebrity and engaging with the fans as you went about daily life.
Mason Raymond: My wife still bugs me. I get recognized here in Vancouver more than anywhere else that I've played and I live in Calgary now. So, again, passionate fan base here, there's no question about it. And it's something where we come back here and we're flying around with masks and everything now with this COVID and stuff, but I still get recognized with a mask on which just blows my mind at times.
Blake Price: Well, you look the same. That probably is the big reason.
Mason Raymond: Yeah, I don't know. But anyway, no, it's cool. Again, doing charity events when we played or doing them now, it's an absolute honor and somehow we get put on a pedestal to go say hi to a kid or to somebody and all I did was put a puck in the net, not as many times as I wanted, but that was the intent anyway. But we say hi to a kid, give him a signature, give him a knuckles, whatever and they think we're God but the reality is we're no different anybody else. So, it's cool to have that stature, I guess, to some degree and I like when I see players that are always out there doing what they can to give back. I always say, I was a kid. I remember meeting Lanny McDonald when I was a kid. Trevor Linden always told me, " One day somebody's not going to want your signature."
Alex Burrows, we were roommates for four years and probably the guy I could talk to the most and he taught me to try to, again, do everything you can, give back because the game is short. And as quick as that went, I play 10 years, my God, it went quick and here I am on the other side. So, I took all those years and here I am now trying to give back with coaching my son's kid and doing these charity events when you can and everything along those lines.
Matt Sekeres: You finish up at the Olympics and you say put on the pedestal, you got put on podium. What was that experience like? We got a kick out of seeing your name come up on that roster, " Hey, Mason Raymond's going to be on the team." Does that feel like just the cherry on top of a career or you probably didn't see it coming-
Mason Raymond: No.
Matt Sekeres: ... and then all sudden it's there?
Mason Raymond: I'll start off by saying played on the outdoor rink like we talked about, (inaudible) dream of game seven, Stanley Cup Finals. That was always what happened when you're playing out there. I never dreamt of being an olympian, I never knew what it was like to be an olympian and I didn't really realize that until I was, literally, in Pyeongchang being an olympian. Coming towards the end of my career there in Anaheim, I just knew things weren't great here, I probably could have, maybe, slugged it out a little bit up and down in the minors but had the opportunity to go over to Switzerland and that tied in with some of the health stuff, I was with my wife.
But anyway, didn't know if it'd be reality. Hey, the NHL is still going to go, it wasn't, we did these camps. Anyway, it really was one of the pinnacles of my career being able to do that. Of course, we didn't get gold, we did get bronze, we did get on the podium but to know what it's like to be an olympian, I had no idea. I just had no idea. I never dreamt about it as I said, didn't know those things and something special. Again, that was a very unique year and I think we went to six, seven different countries and tournaments and Spengler cup. Again, most years you go to a camp in January or something.
Blake Price: Pretty much do, yeah.
Mason Raymond: December, I don't really know when it is and you listen to the team, you show up and away they go. So, we had a close bond there and a lot of guys like Rene Bourque and just former players and, yeah, it was a blast. Again, we know we weren't the best players in the world for Canada there but we knew we were the best players in the world that were eligible to go at that point. And, again, a super pinnacle career. Again, those tournaments and the way those are set up are interesting. We lost against Germany there, not to get into the finals but they always said, too, it's always nice to head out on a win and you had it on a win with bronze versus losing and getting silver.
Blake Price: Why? And honestly, you proved a lot of doubters wrong because I don't know how many people would have put you on the podium at the outset of the tournament but you guys were a (pucky) group and it was a charge at the Olympics.
Matt Sekeres: And coached by Willie.
Blake Price: That's right.
Matt Sekeres: Willie D.
Blake Price: Yeah, (inaudible) coach. You mentioned to us before we sat down and started recording, you're retired from hockey but you've never been busier. There is a distinction here at 36 years old. So, catch us up on everything. You've alluded to some of it. Catch us up on everything.
Mason Raymond: Yeah, like you said, everybody says, " How's retired life?" Well, I'm retired from the game of hockey but life is busy and life is on the go which I enjoy. And for myself, I went back to my roots, I grew up on a big, big farm and went back to the agriculture business, running a lot of cattle, farming a lot of acres. I'm also in the auto industry with my wife's family and a few other little entity companies that I've started out.
So, I've always enjoyed the business world, doing a lot with that and coaching my son's team, being a father, being a husband. So, life is good. Trying to get some traveling, enjoying everything that I can and, as I said, I enjoy the business world. I alluded to it earlier that the amount of parallels between hockey and work or life or whatever is just phenomenal. So, I'm enjoying that side of it, working with a team of employees, it's been fun.
Blake Price: I'm imagining nine- year- olds don't much care that you played in the NHL. They don't remember you, so what about the parents? What's it like coaching nine- year- olds and then dealing with parents that remember you playing in the National Hockey League?
Mason Raymond: The parents definitely remember me more which is good, so they're not on me too much but-
Matt Sekeres: What are you talking about, Mason? Why are you telling my son to do that?
Mason Raymond: Yeah, right. No, it's been good, I enjoy teaching that group. And, again, I do a couple mornings where I'm doing some skating stuff with kids. Well, when I was learning to skate, you had it or you didn't, that was basically it. And now, again, it's so technical and different edges and how everything goes. But again, you can see how the game's going in a way McDavid and MacKinnon, all these guys skate and they're skating instructors. No, it's fun. I really enjoy coaching that age group. I guess my son's out there, so you enjoy being there even more because you're there with your son but it's fun. It's fun to give back now and do these things and, again, the game was so good to me, it's gotten me to where I am today. So, I'm very proud and love giving back that way.
Blake Price: Does your son have your stride?
Matt Sekeres: Yeah.
Blake Price: Did you gift him the stride?
Mason Raymond: I hope so. I don't know. It's too early to tell, maybe he's a late bloomer like me.
Blake Price: It's hard to tell you, right.
Mason Raymond: But you know how the parents are. Every parent thinks their kid's going to be signing a contract the next day with the Canucks or the Flames or something. So, you're trying to calm them down. It's a process.
Matt Sekeres: Well, it's great to see you again. Anytime you're in Vancouver, stop on by and see us. Fantastic catch up. Thanks, Mason.
Mason Raymond: Thanks, guys. Thanks for having me.
Blake Price: Well, terrific conversation with Mason Raymond. I love how he put it. " Retired? I've never been busier. I'm retired from the game of hockey."
Matt Sekeres: A lot of athletes have difficulty adjusting to life without the game. It's terrific to see that he's doing so well, sounding so well.
Blake Price: Yeah, and he had a lengthy career, 10 years as he said but it shows you got to find something else to do with your life. He's still so young, still so young.
Matt Sekeres: He's been out of the game for a few years. He's just 36 years old.
Blake Price: Life is ahead of you. You're not putting your feet up and doing nothing from here on in. So, yeah, good on him. And taking a little page from one of his mentors and Trevor Linden, I think, who jumped into the business world. Trevor put his interests across a variety of businesses and it sounds like Mason Raymond is doing the same and having some fun doing it.
Matt Sekeres: I had never heard that his family was just six rows up watching that scene in Boston, in game six of the Stanley Cup final.
Blake Price: Yeah, I think we were told that. It rings the smallest of bells.
Matt Sekeres: Smallest bell? Yeah.
Blake Price: Yeah, it was shocking to hear that though and you can just imagine what that would have been like for them to see it go down. I see hockey parents sit in minor hockey and their kid goes careening into the boards, it's all you can do to stop moms from running down and I'm sure that was still the case in the Stanley Cup final that friends and family just want to go down there and make sure the kid is okay.
Matt Sekeres: Also, a really good lesson here, speaking of hockey parents and hockey players. 546 NHL games but, after midget and even into Junior A, he's not really thinking pro hockey is a career path. He's leaving his options open.
Blake Price: Again, we're not talking about an unrefined sport in the '60s and '70s. This is 2005, this is not that long ago. Yeah, Chris Tanev was another great example of this, remember?
Matt Sekeres: Yeah.
Blake Price: He was playing house at the age of 14 or something like that. Folks, just relax. If your kid's good enough, they'll find their way and, Mason Raymond, he found his way.
Matt Sekeres: Yeah, and he winds up appearing in a young stars game at the All Star break, he's an unsung hero for the Vancouver Canucks and, of course, a key part of some of their best teams going up and down that wing with blazing speed.
Blake Price: Unbelievable skater. One thing we didn't talk to him, I remember, late in his career, (Raymond Down) . He was always giving it as all and he talked about one of the last things that came to him was strength in terms of the late blooming and being able to stay on his skates and, ultimately, late in his career, of course, he had trouble staying on his skates, that Raymond down phenomenon.
Matt Sekeres: And, of course, to complete the Mason Raymond story, the guy is down eight to 10 pounds since his playing days because that's just the way he's constituted.
Blake Price: He looks 28 years old.
Matt Sekeres: Honestly-
Blake Price: Honest to goodness.
Matt Sekeres: ... folks, he looked like he could play-
Blake Price: Yeah.
Matt Sekeres: ... tomorrow. He has not changed outside of one tooth. He joked with us that he's just got one tooth that's still missing like a lot of hockey players is going through the long procedures of fixing all the dentistry at the end of his career. But he looks exactly the same as the day that he walked out of Rogers Arena or the day he finished his career.
Blake Price: The only difference I would say, a little less guarded now with the career over-
Matt Sekeres: Oh, for sure, for sure.
Blake Price: ... and just a delight to talk with.
Matt Sekeres: Yeah, and-
Blake Price: So, so much fun.
Matt Sekeres: ... happy to reminisce with us about his time as a Canuck.