Kevin Weekes: I was the youngest so they put me in net

The Toronto native was the Florida Panthers second round draft pick in 1993. Weekes, who has earned 19 NHL career shutouts between the pipes, now plays for the New Jersey Devils.

The Toronto native was the Florida Panthers second round draft pick in 1993. Weekes, who has earned 19 NHL career shutouts between the pipes, now plays for the New Jersey Devils.

CBC Sports: How did you get into hockey?

Weekes: "Well, growing up in Toronto, a lot of the guys in the neighbourhood played street hockey, and my older cousin Ian also played. Basically those guys were about 7, 8 years older than I was, and I was about 4 at the time. The one guy who'd usually play goalie all the time, his family moved back to Greece, so they asked me if I wanted to play, just because I was the smallest kid, and I wasn't allowed to play usually (laughs.) I said, 'Ya for sure, I'd love to.'

"They put me in net and I loved it. A couple years later they went to register at St. Mikes for house league, and my older cousin, he went, and I followed along. I knew that's what I wanted to do. I knew right then that I wanted to be a goalie in the NHL and play pro hockey."

CBC Sports: What was the first game you can remember playing?

Weekes: "First game I can remember playing was Toronto Olympic house league at St. Mikes. That was, you know, the first game that I played. Actually our house league team ended up winning the championship that year, which made it fun...

"I never tried playing out in a game, just the odd time horsing around in pick-up and stuff like that. I was goalie from day one."

CBC Sports: Who was your funniest teammate, and why?

Weekes: "At any stage in hockey? Wow, that's a great question. Umm, minor hockey, my funniest teammate probably, well, two guys. One would be Daryl Rivers, who I played with on the Toronto Red Wings, and aside from that, Mike Namdirovski. Those two guys were probably the funniest guys I played with minor hockey wise.

"In pro, let me think now, that's a tough one in pro. Nobody really jumps out. I'd just go with those two guys overall."

CBC Sports: Where was the most memorable tournament you ever played, and why?

Weekes: "Most memorable tournament was the Quebec peewee tournament, just because it's the best tournament in the world, it's the best tournament in hockey, with all the tradition, and you feel like you're playing in the NHL at 12, 13 years old.

"When our team, Toronto Red Wings, when we pulled into the Colisee, we were signing autographs, people were staring at us when we checked in. The whole experience made you feel like a pro, especially all the buzz around the tournament. We were always playing in the Colisee, the big rink, I think we played the majority of our games there, and just the way we were treated, again it was just like being in the NHL at 13.

"That tournament and then probably the Kamloops, Kamloops British Columbia tournament, for a similar reason. We just had a great time and for many of us that was our first time going out West, and we actually flew to that tournament too, so at the time I think playing minor hockey and getting to go on the plane, it was a big deal. We actually ended up winning that Kamloops tournament too. That was big." 

CBC Sports: Where was the worst arena you've ever played at? What was it like?

Weekes: "Oh wow, okay, worst arena I would say in Toronto, probably the worst arena I played minor hockey at was Forest Hill, which doesn't make sense given the money around that area.

"It was the worst just because it felt like an icebox. The lighting was bad, it was really, really cold, too cold, almost unbearably cold, especially for a goalie. When you have to catch the puck or the puck hits your stick, it's not a good feeling in the cold. And then from there, away from Toronto, maybe, umm the old arena, probably the old Barrie arena, where the old Barrie team used to play back in the '80s before they got the OHL team. The old Barrie arena, that was probably the worst one outside of Toronto. 

CBC Sports: Where was the coldest game of hockey you ever played? Describe it.

Weekes: "Coldest game of hockey ever played. Outside of Forest Hill, I would probably say St. Leonard, Quebec. We went to St. Leonard for a midget tournament. I don't recall the name of the arena there, but that was another icebox there. That's never fun."

CBC Sports: Who was the most memorable hockey parent you ever met? Why?

Weekes: "Wow. There are a lot of characters, and a lot of good ones. Interesting. If I had to narrow it down, I would probably say probably Mister Di Stasi, a guy that Mike Peca and I played with, Paulo Di Stasi. Probably his dad, either his dad or Mike Peca's father, too, Claudio. Either one of those two, probably.

"Claudio was just very funny, always joking around, except for when we didn't play well. He also had a really young spirit, so he connected with us even though we were really young kids. He connected with us and he was very fun loving, so I'd say that where he was concerned.

"Mr. Di Stasi was just a typical, older Italian father, very wise, but very kind hearted, you know, we still stay in contact with both of them to this day."