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What you need to know about COVID-19: August 13, 2020
Wade MacQuarrie doesn’t mind some long-distance travel — especially if the trip presents the opportunity to play a little hockey.
Over the years, the 61-year-old Colorado resident has played the game he has loved since childhood in some rather far-flung locations, including southern California and Japan.
His latest destination was to have been Cape Breton where he was to have taken part in the 31st annual Vince Ryan Memorial Scholarship Hockey Tournament.
But it wasn’t just a random holiday as MacQuarrie’s roots run deep on the hockey-loving island. And prior to the tournament’s cancellation due to the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, he expressed his excitement about his cross-continental journey.
“This is a win-win situation for me,” said the longtime actuary, who was six-months-old when his parents left Cape Breton for Montréal before moving on to Toronto where he grew up.
“My parents moved back home and retired in Alder Point, so I figured I’d come down and play a little hockey, eat some apple pie and visit with mom and dad and the rest of the crew – I still have lots of relatives there.”
Unfortunately, MacQuarrie will have to wait to visit his Cape Breton relatives. He’s riding out the pandemic at his suburban Denver home. But he’s not alone. He and his wife recently welcomed their son home from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas.
And with most conversations focusing on COVID-19, MacQuarrie was only too happy to talk a little hockey.
He jokes that he initially moved to southern California because he was tired of scraping ice off his car windows in Canada. He acknowledges that he took advantage of an actuary shortage in the United States that he learned about after securing his professional designation.
“But I did have friends calling me up in February when it was freezing in Canada and telling that me that I was missing out on BBQs on nice hot days – so I moved,” he laughs.
He may have left for warmer climes, but the lifelong Montréal Canadiens fans certainly didn’t forget about hockey.
“What Gretzky did for hockey in California is incredible – he had a tremendous impact on the popularity of the game there,” said MacQuarrie, who would eventually move to Colorado.
But he stays connected with the southern California hockey scene. And he remains friends with Dr. Satoshi Kamada, who just happens to be a team physician with the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks.
Kamada was also the person responsible for organizing a 2015 Japanese tour for a group of senior hockey players that included MacQuarrie. The informal squad was planning a second trip to Japan in December, but it has yet to be finalized pending the status of the coronavirus.
MacQuarrie, who spent years as a goalie, now he plays as a defenceman. And, despite his allegiance to the Habs, he admits he has always secretly regarded Bobby Orr as the greatest player of all time.
Well, maybe not so secretly. After all, MacQuarrie had a vanity car license plate during his time in California that read “B ORR 4” in tribute to the Hall of Famer.
“It took me a while to admit in public that Bobby Orr was my all-time favourite hockey player – he was a true gentleman off the ice and a dominant warrior on the ice,” he said, who admits he does try to emulate the famous number “4”.
“I do model my game here in Colorado as an offensive defenceman and while I may be appreciated by my teammates as a very solid senior hockey player, like many players I could only ever dream of being compared to Bobby Orr,” said MacQuarrie, who isn’t sure when he will be able to make his next trip to Cape Breton.
Or when he will next be able to get back on the ice.
For now, MacQuarrie is content with staying home and either watching re-runs of past hockey matches or just talking about his favourite sport.