St. John's hockey community remembers longtime Maple Leafs, IceCaps equipment manager

Shannon Coady left a lasting impression on those who knew him well and the many more who knew his face from behind the bench of hockey clubs in St. John's. 

Shannon (Shaq) Coady died earlier this week

Shannon (Shaq) Coady is remembered as a hard worker who left a lasting impression. (Newfoundland Growlers/Facebook)

Tributes have been rolling in for a pillar of Newfoundland and Labrador's hockey community.

Shannon Coady — affectionately known as "Shaq" — died earlier this  week. He left a lasting impression on those who knew him well and the many more who knew his face from behind the bench of hockey clubs in St. John's. 

Coady spent more than two decades working as an equipment manager for hockey teams in the province's capital city in the professional and junior ranks. He had his start with the St. John's Maple Leafs in the American Hockey League in 1991, before moving on to the St. John's Fog Devils of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League in 2005 after the Baby Leafs franchise left the island for Ontario. Coady would later return to the AHL with the formation of the St. John's IceCaps in 2011.

Newfoundland Growlers co-owner Glenn Stanford remembers meeting Coady in 1991 after Coady won a contest to become a stick boy for the St. John's Maple Leafs. Stanford was the Leafs' vice-president of hockey operations from the team's first days in St. John's until the final buzzer.

"He was in Grade 7 I think at the time. He was 14 years old.… He worked his way up to becoming an assistant equipment manager," Stanford told CBC Radio's St. John's Morning Show on Friday.

Coady would eventually become the team's head equipment manager until 2005, and had the opportunity to work with the Maple Leafs' parent club in Toronto during a playoff run. 

Stanford said Coady represented what pro hockey has become today. 

"Players and coaches who played here loved Shannon. He had that infectious smile. He always worked hard," said Stanford. 

"The visiting teams and executives who came here loved Shannon, they also loved St. John's. You can see that Shannon didn't just have an impact on pro hockey in St. John's. He had an impact on hockey throughout the hockey industry."

A special person

Stanford said Coady ticked all the boxes of a quintessential Newfoundlander. People who fell in love with the island's personality also fell in love with Coady for the same reason, he said. 

Coady is remembered for being hard working, dedicated and the perfect example of somebody who made the best of an opportunity, Stanford added. 

"He didn't have all the skills at the beginning. Becoming an equipment manager, sharpening skates, it's a skill I can tell you that. One that I don't have," said Stanford. 

"He worked hard over time to master those skills and was able to make a career for himself. I think it really is a lesson for other people. You work hard, you pay the price and you get rewarded for your hard work. Shannon was a perfect example of that."

On Thursday Ottawa Senators head coach D.J. Smith took time before his club's meeting with Toronto to speak about Coady. Smith played with the St. John's farm club from 1996 until 2002. 

"He was my equipment manager when I was there. [He was] little in stature, huge in heart," Smith said. 

"A lot of hockey guys that have gone through Newfoundland, and in Newfoundland, know him as a big part of that hockey community, and I just want to say my thoughts and prayers are with his family."

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from The St. John's Morning Show