When he was a child growing up in this picturesque piece of Newfoundland’s west coast, Jason King was a star in the local minor hockey association, leading his Atom-A team to a championship over their cross-island rivals in St. John’s.
He was so dedicated to hockey, his father recalls, that he sometimes even took his stick with him to bed.
And while the forward’s career took him on a meandering path -- including stints with the Vancouver Canucks, Anaheim Ducks and clubs in Germany and Sweden - this week presented the first opportunity for many locals to watch him play live, as the St. John’s IceCaps, his current team, held their training camp in his hometown.
“It’s come full circle - right around the country to Europe to the States and back home,” said his father, Randy, standing in the local arena, the Pepsi Centre, after an exhibition game between the IceCaps and the Syracuse Crunch.
His friend, retired teacher Taylor Colbourne, used to coach the younger King and remembers him as a good student as well as a top player.
“In the area of Corner Brook, everybody knows everybody. Everybody played hockey. Everybody is friends,” he said.
Pepsi Centre manager Willie Smith, 43, has a tape of Jason’s long-ago championship victory over St. John’s. He also sees him around during the off-season, when he comes to the arena to work out, then runs the nearby soccer pitch with a parachute on his back.
King was certainly savouring the moment, indulging the young fans seeking autographs and receiving the loudest cheers when his name was announced in the starting lineup.
“It’s pretty special -- I never thought I’d have a pro hockey camp in Corner Brook,” he said.