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Episode 208: Brad Larsen

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Contenuto fornito da Tell Us A Good Story. Tutti i contenuti dei podcast, inclusi episodi, grafica e descrizioni dei podcast, vengono caricati e forniti direttamente da Tell Us A Good Story o dal partner della piattaforma podcast. Se ritieni che qualcuno stia utilizzando la tua opera protetta da copyright senza la tua autorizzazione, puoi seguire la procedura descritta qui https://it.player.fm/legal.

Today we talk to retired NHL player and former head coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets, Coach Brad Larsen.

Kevin + Steph had so many hockey questions for Coach Larsen. What happens when you lose your teeth during a game on the ice? How do you know when someone wants to fight you in hockey? And why was he drafted TWICE in the NHL draft…by the same team?! Other stories include:

– Playing in his first NHL hockey game and then immediately being told he was going back down to the minor leagues.
– As a rookie, trying to start a fight with his childhood hero, Mark Messier.
– How the Civil War cannon at the CBJ games not only startles the fans but also scares the coaches AND players.

Coach Larsen also shares some touching personal stories such as surviving two bouts with cancer and why he considers May 22, 2011, to be the greatest day of his life.

We can’t wait for you to hear this fun and uplifting conversation with Coach Brad Larsen.

Guest Details

📘 Their book titled ‘You Met Her WHERE?!’ can be ordered here: 👉 kevinandsteph.com/book

Access the Show Transcript Here

EP208 – Coach Brad Larsen
Retired NHL player Brad Larson discusses hockey experiences, physicality, fighting culture, and coaching journey, highlighting themes of faith and family.
2024, Team Mason
Tell Us A Good Story

Produced by Clawson Solutions Group, LLC https://csolgroup.com

Generated Shownotes
Chapters
0:00:00 Introduction to Coach Brad Larson
0:00:56 Kevin and Stephanie’s Personal Journey
0:01:24 Reminder and Appreciation for Subscribers
0:01:57 Excitement to Interview Coach Brad Larson
0:02:38 Gratitude for Coach Brad Larson’s Participation
0:03:15 Are Your Teeth Real?
0:04:48 The Intensity of Hockey Fights
0:10:15 The Evolution of Fighting in Hockey
0:11:51 The Consequences of Picking Up Gloves
0:13:58 The Startling Columbus Blue Jackets Cannon
0:15:51 Coach Brad Larson’s Wake-Up Call
0:18:26 Fun Fact: Coach Brad Larson’s NHL Draft Experience
0:27:33 Finding Incredible Guests
0:33:12 Life Lessons and Baptism
0:33:37 End of Playing Career
0:38:27 Coaching Youth Hockey
0:41:32 Pressure as the Coach’s Son
0:42:35 Journey from High School to Pros
0:44:04 Perspective on Past Achievements
Long Summary
In this episode, the host introduces retired NHL player and former head coach, Coach Brad Larson, as they dive into a captivating conversation about his experiences in hockey. Coach Larson shares compelling stories, from fights and missing teeth to encounters with his childhood hero, Mark Messier. He opens up about personal challenges, including overcoming cancer and finding faith, adding depth to the discussion. The conversation delves into the physical grit of hockey, touching on injuries like losing teeth and breaking bones, giving listeners a glimpse into the toughness required in the sport.

The lively exchange between the host, Stephanie, and Coach Larson explores the culture of fighting in hockey, with Coach Larson recounting intense games with multiple fights and line brawls. The trio delves into the peculiarities of the sport, including the impact of the Columbus Blue Jackets’ Civil War cannon on players and spectators. Humor and curiosity infuse the interview, creating an engaging atmosphere that keeps listeners entertained throughout. The blend of hockey anecdotes, personal triumphs, and shared passion for the sport makes for a dynamic and memorable episode.

As the interview progresses, Coach Larson shares humorous tales, such as pranking new players on the ice, before delving into significant life events like discovering melanoma and undergoing surgery. The conversation meanders through Coach Brad’s draft experiences, brief NHL stint, minor league adventures, and playing for his country, offering listeners a comprehensive look at his hockey career. The episode is interspersed with humor and candid reflections, providing engaging stories and insights into the world of professional hockey.

Reflecting on his coaching career, Coach Larson highlights key moments like his first head coach win and beating Tampa Bay in a series, showcasing his coaching prowess. He opens up about personal challenges, including battling testicular cancer and finding solace through faith, emphasizing the importance of family and faith in his life. The conversation touches on his transition from playing to coaching, coaching his son’s team, and the impact of faith on his journey. The hosts express admiration for Coach Larson’s coaching style, commitment to family, and interactions with hockey legends, wrapping up the episode with well-wishes for his future endeavors.
Brief Summary
Retired NHL player and former head coach, Coach Brad Larson, joins the host in a captivating conversation about his hockey experiences. Coach Larson shares stories ranging from fights and encounters with Mark Messier to overcoming cancer and finding faith. The discussion delves into the physical aspect of hockey, discussing injuries and the toughness required in the sport. They explore the culture of fighting in hockey and peculiarities like the impact of the Columbus Blue Jackets’ Civil War cannon. The lively exchange is infused with humor and curiosity, offering engaging anecdotes and insights into Coach Larson’s career and coaching journey. His personal challenges, coaching highlights, and the role of faith and family are key themes throughout the dynamic and memorable episode.
Tags
Retired NHL player, former head coach, Brad Larson, hockey experiences, fights, Mark Messier, overcoming cancer, faith, physical aspect, injuries, toughness, culture of fighting, Columbus Blue Jackets, Civil War cannon, coaching journey, personal challenges, coaching highlights, faith, family
Transcript
Introduction to Coach Brad Larson

[0:00] Hello, friends. Welcome to another episode of Tell Us a Good Story.
Today, we get to talk to a retired NHL player and former head coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets, Coach Brad Larson.
You guys, this conversation was so much fun. I had so many questions to ask him about hockey, such as, are his teeth real?
Nope. And how does fighting work in hockey? Does he have any good fight stories? Yep.
Such as this story about his first professional hockey game when there were 33 fights, you guys.
And the story about him being a rookie in the NHL and trying Trying to start a fight with his childhood hero, Mark Messier. So funny.
But also, Coach Larson shares some incredible personal stories, such as his two bouts with cancer and how May 22, 2011 is what he calls the greatest day of his life.
That was the day he was baptized and gave his life to Christ, and his life has never been the same.
You guys, this was such a fun conversation, and we can’t wait for you to hear this episode with our new friend, Coach Brad Larson.
Kevin and Stephanie’s Personal Journey

[0:56] I’m Kevin. And I’m Stephanie. And during our marriage, we have dealt with an electrocution, a brain tumor, brain surgery.
Then doctors telling us that children were not in our future, followed by miscarriage, and then Kevin’s cancer diagnosis.
However, today, we live a life completely healed and restored with three healthy children who doctors said were not possible.
And we’re here to tell stories that inspire, give hope, and brighten your day.
Welcome to… Tell Us a Good Story.
Reminder and Appreciation for Subscribers

[1:25] Okay, friends, before we get to this episode, just a friendly reminder to please hit the subscribe button on YouTube and Apple podcast or give us a review five stars, please.
In our world, this is super, super important, because it will help with the algorithm to make it easier for people to find us.
And thank you for sharing our posts across your social media that really helps with engagement and with us getting guests.
Yes. So hey, if you want us to keep working our way up to talking to Chip and Joanna.
Yes! Please share us with your friends. But regardless, thank you for listening to Tell Us a Good Story.
Excitement to Interview Coach Brad Larson

[1:58] Steph, this is going to be so much fun. You love his voice. I love his voice.
Well, friends, our next guest is a professional hockey coach and former player who most recently served as the head coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets.
And before coaching, he played over eight seasons in the NHL with the Colorado Avalanche and the Atlanta Thrashers.
Ladies and gentlemen, and please welcome to Tell Us Good Story, Coach Brad Larson. Coach Brad Larson!
We’re so excited! Thanks for having me, guys. I appreciate it.
You ready for this? Oh, I’m ready. I’ve heard about you. I’m ready. Really?
All in a good way. Oh, Coach, I’m so freaking excited about this.
Gratitude for Coach Brad Larson’s Participation

[2:38] So, first off, Coach, thank you for saying yes to Steph and I.
I’d like to share how I actually… Are you Canadian?
Oh, yeah. Of course. I can hear it. I’m like, oh, my gosh, he’s Canadian.
All I want to do is hear him talk.
Well, I’ve lived here now for, yeah, I moved here when I was 19.
I’m 46. So it’s been a while.
But you still have it. Yeah, it’s funny because my parents will come and visit.
And wow, are they Canadian. Everything’s like right on A for sure.
It’s hilarious. I know why they make fun of us. I get it.
Are Your Teeth Real?

[3:15] Wait, can I ask him my question again? Yes, go ahead. Steph’s dying to ask you this, Coach. Okay. Go for it. You are a former hockey player.
So tell me, are your teeth real?
No, no, of course not. Really? Not if you’re a true hockey player.
These front four, I lost. Well, you can’t see it because I got a beard going, but I have a scar here.
And it was, I believe, my second year pro. I was playing in the minors in the American League in Hershey.
And we were on the road in Philly, and I was chasing down this defenseman.
And he swung a stick back.
It ramped up my stick, hit me right in the mouth, split my lip open.
I lost all these four teeth.
And the fun about the American League is that you don’t get to see a dentist for a little bit. It takes a little bit. We’re on the road.
So I lost these four teeth, and my four roots are hanging out.
And there’s bits of teeth in my mouth for the next couple days.

[4:04] So because we had three games in three days, so all I did was I would chew gum, and I would pack the gum over the roots and the teeth, And that’s how I live for the next two, three days.
Because, I mean, if you’ve ever had an exposure, the sensitivity is torture. So…
We could barely drink water. Like when I was drinking water, it had to be kind of through the side or through a straw.
So, yeah. So these four. And the good news was they were actually crooked.
And this one was tucked in behind. So now they’re all straight.
So, you know, something good came out of it. Okay. So when that happens, afterwards, is everyone on their hands looking for teeth?
Go search for them. Yes. How does that work?
These were shattered. There was no searching for them. When it hit.

[4:47] I mean, they were more concerned.
The Intensity of Hockey Fights

[4:49] There was so much blood from the from the lip that got so they were sewing that up and then when i opened up it was just i mean they were gone and not in like nice pieces they were shattered yeah so so it literally was like there was pieces of tooth that you’re spitting out all the rest of the game that night like kind of rinsing out your mouth constantly for the next two days is that the rite of passage for a true hockey player to lose teeth i don’t know if it’s a to write a passage but it happens i mean this is back you know i’m a little older i’m 46 so we didn’t wear mouth guards and i didn’t wear a visor or anything like that this was just full frontal you know it’s exposed all the time so back then it was very common occurrence lose teeth and and you know face scars all that stuff right that just kind of comes with the territory if you.

[5:37] Go far enough but steph how would you sleep for the next three days being that much there’s no way there was lots of medication just to just to dull the pain and you you’ve broken fingers and toes and and and had all that stuff and surgeries but there’s something about an yes nerves and teeth and if anybody’s ever had it they understand how bad that is like it you know a tooth takes one thing but when roots are exposed it’s like that’s another level steph i i couldn’t to wait wait 33 days no way I’d like okay I quit get me to a hospital like you gotta fix this now when you don’t have a choice that’s what it is is that your worst injury that you had.

[6:18] Pain-wise well I mean there’s several times broken feet you know but you played through that as long as it wouldn’t get displaced you could play through that and broken fingers, again back then you kind of just taped them together and they would cut your glove and maneuver that so you know I broke my jaw I took a flap shot to the face it it hit me hit me here this isn’t practice actually hit me I didn’t see it coming hit me inside and I dropped and and got got up, and I was spitting blood, obviously, and the poor guy who did it, he was so apologetic, and I could barely talk, and I went off the ice immediately, went, got x-rays, and they said, you know, you’re fine.
It hit me here, and he said, you’re going to be okay, so I went the next week.

[7:02] Thinking I just, my teeth had shifted and just was very sore from the impact.
Well, my jaw here and my gum line started to swell so bad and bleed, like I couldn’t, all I could eat was mashed potatoes and milkshakes and if i chewed i could actually feel my jaw shift and my assistant coach at the time said look you you better go get looked at again so i went back and they x-rayed here and it had cracked all the way down um here so i have a i have a scar you can’t see it there’s a scar here i actually have a plate and four screws in my jaw um they did surgery that next day but for a week i’m practicing and and thinking oh my god got soreness oh that that was painful that was one of the worst by far because i didn’t know and i didn’t want to say anything and say right but once they found the crack they they x-rayed the impact but not where it because of the impact it broke here okay and so they there was the next day was surgery and screws and plates and all that fun stuff okay so you mentioned other people hurting you with your teeth with a slap shot have you knocked anybody else’s teeth out oh it’s possible by accident you don’t really No, it happened so quick.
And yeah, you know, sticks are flying. You shoot pucks, they get deflected.
Like, I mean, that’s just part of hockey.
Yeah. And so I’m sure it’s happened by accident and it certainly wasn’t on purpose.
Certainly. Certainly wasn’t on purpose. No, it couldn’t have been. It couldn’t have been.

[8:24] I’m a different man now. Maybe back then some of it was. Yes, that’s a good point.
BC days, right? Before Christ. Amen. Amen.

[8:34] All right, Steph, I’ve got a question for you. What’s your favorite book of all time? Obviously, You Met Her Where.
Oh, I thought you were going to say the Bible. Oh, oops.
What’s your second favorite book of all time? You Met Her Where?

[8:53] A distant second totally distant it’s pretty good book sorry god it’s still a pretty good book but we’re so excited where can people get our book okay i know this uh amazon.com yes barnes and noble yes and and our website kevinstuff.com and what happens if they buy it off our website what do they get uh an autograph from us yes who wouldn’t want that so listeners if you’ve You’ve already read the book.
Thank you so much. We’ve had such good feedback.
One thing that helps us, if you can give us a review on amazon.com, we would greatly appreciate it. Thank you so much. And thank you for listening.

[9:32] Okay. So Steph and I do want to ask about another part of hockey. Yes.
Fighting. All right. So I’ll tell you a quick story. So the first hockey game I ever went to, I was in high school and our church youth group took us to the old Columbus chill.
All right. which was like a minor league hockey team here in Columbus.
This was actually right before the Blue Jackets came into town.
Coach, there were so many fights in that minor league hockey game.
That’s the only thing I remember. But I remember just cheering them on.
We’re screaming. And our youth leader is like, whose idea was this?
Why did we bring these teenage boys to see all these guys fight?
So how does fighting work?

[10:12] Is it you look at somebody else? Is it you say something?
The Evolution of Fighting in Hockey

[10:16] Thing how do you know if somebody wants to fight you well i i think things have changed quite a bit from even when i came in the league and beforehand there was um like teams were built much differently they they had guys specifically that’s all they did and oh really yeah they they wouldn’t play much but they were really good at their craft let’s put it that way and and that was fighting so everybody kind of gets on fighting and i and i understand it because the dangers of it i truly do do now um but how many times have you been in an arena and seen people sitting on their hands when there’s a fight it just doesn’t happen people get very very excited so there was times when you’d be down two or three nothing that somebody may go initiate and and let the other guy know that hey we need to do this and if whether he obliged or not that guy was going to be in a fight so there there’s many different uh formats of how it would occur and and gosh before my time there There were so many tough guys.
It was almost terrifying when you walk in there.

[11:15] Yeah, and you knew. You would be looking at the stats and looking at the penalty minutes and going, okay, this guy.
You didn’t have YouTube back then and could pre-sculpt their fights and see what they did.
I’ll share one story. My first ever pro game, this was an exhibition game.
So I was in Hershey, Pennsylvania.
So I was with Colorado Avalanche Organization, and they had a doubleheader.
So it was the minor league team playing Philadelphia and then it was the NHL team playing after us playing their NHL team. This is kind of the old Hershey park arena.
So this is my first pro game. I remember the coach coming and going, Hey, you know, like.
The Consequences of Picking Up Gloves

[11:52] Make sure you keep your head up this could be a rough game there’s a big rivalry between the philadelphia phantoms and the hershey bears and i’m like all right whatever right and none of the real veterans that were there last year playing just a bunch of young guys and they give us a little bit of a heads up and some of the guys that are playing on the other team and i’m looking at warm-up and i’m going who are these guys like they’re really they’re yeah they’re let’s just say they’re intimidating so the game starts i won’t bore you with the details but in that game there was 33 fights and three line brawls and there was only i think there was only four or five guys left on the bench on each side at the end of the game it took about four and a half hours to play that game they had to delay it because it was just fight after fight oh my gosh 33 yeah the score was four three um i got in two fights had two goals one assist and i was like wow this is gonna be this is my first pro game and i’m thinking this is gonna be a long year the next the next game we played the next night against syracuse there was eight fights so and i wasn’t used to this and junior the western league was a pretty tough league but i was more of a score and i’d done some things so i didn’t really have to do much of that but i found it real quickly that this is going to have to be part of your game a little bit if you’re going to be in this league oh my gosh i didn’t realize there were that many fights in three full team on fights okay so yeah this this was egregious this was way way out of the norm, Okay, so if I’m on the ice with you, Coach, you drop your gloves.
What happens if I pick them up and hand them back to you?

[13:16] That won’t happen. As you’re picking them up, you might be taking punches.

[13:24] Okay, so what happens if once you fall, it fights over, right?
The ref stops it. I’d be laying down. Like you just drop on the ice? I’d just drop in.

[13:31] Yeah. Yeah, well, yeah. They probably pick you back up.
You really don’t want to punch guys when they’re down. And there’s some unwritten rules that you tend to follow. But again, sometimes there’s anger.
They’re truly just, they don’t like each other. And maybe they fought several times. Maybe something dirty happened where they will.
And this is where I feel for the linesmen. Because back then, I mean, they’re jumping on guys trying to hold their arms.
But if they’re still swinging away, I’ve seen linesmen get hit with punches.
The Startling Columbus Blue Jackets Cannon

[13:59] I mean, it’s not a fun job. Oh, so one of the things I want to ask you about is the Columbus Blue Jackets Civil War cannon that they have in the arena.
OK, so every game I’ve been to coach that darn cannon scares me every single time.
Like I jump out of my seat. You’re not alone.
Oh, my God. So listeners, if you’ve never been to a Columbus Blue Jackets game, they and I think 2007 put this civil war replica cannon in one of the corners of the arena and they shoot it off and it is i mean incredibly loud where i know it’s even coming and i’m still jumping every single time so did it still startle you and how do the players feel about that thing going off because it is loud yeah you yeah i mean certainly jarzy the first few times when you’re not ready for it i remember coming in as the visiting team when i was with colorado and kind of just you know it It shocks you.
It’s intense. You feel it.

[14:55] My favorite stories are I used to watch the warm-ups as an assistant coach all the time, and when they made it come on the ice, you know, it would be dark and they wouldn’t be ready for it, and you’d see guys jumping.
And the best is when, you know, Torch took over in Columbus, and I bet you the first four or five home games, He was never ready for it. He’d get on the ice. We’d walk on the bench.
He’d be standing there, and it would go off.
And he’d be like, and Torch, use some choice words. That? Cannon. You know?

[15:24] And I’m like, it’ll get you. And so it got him four or five times straight, I think, his first four. It was pretty funny to watch.
Oh, it’s so long. Is it fun for you to watch the new guys who are not expecting it? Or the visiting team. Yes.
Yeah. You know, you get so used to it. But you forget when new guys come or you watch the visitors, if you’re kind of you’re glaring over the other side or looking and you see them jump and you just you giggle because you’ve all been there a little bit. Yeah.
Coach Brad Larson’s Wake-Up Call

[15:51] OK, coach, can you share the story with Steph of back in 2007 when you were playing for the Atlanta Thrashers in the NHL and you were going through the medical evaluation?
Right. What happened? Because this I mean, this started quite the journey for you. Can you share that story with Steph? How old were you when you went through this?
Oh, gosh. I think I saw 29.
That’d be about right. Yeah, I would have been late 20s. Yeah, so just ordinary physicals, doing that with camp.

[16:22] And first time it’s ever happened. I’ve been a part of since I was 15 with junior teams all the way to 13 years of playing pro.

[16:32] Medicals are very normal. You have ortho. You have dental, of course, right? right? You have all these things that you do.

[16:39] But this is the first time they had a dermatologist there. And it was completely voluntary and random.
So there was a line for ortho. So I saw the dermatologist there and I was like, you know what? Why not?
Nobody’s going to this guy and I might as well get checked out.
So sure enough, he checks me out. And so I go home and go through the day.
And two days later, I get a call from my trainer and he says, I need to talk talk to you get down here right away so I’m like all right what’s going on and he basically said listen the dermatologist called he’s got a major concern on one of the moles that they removed it was right in my upper back so it’s not a place that I would ever see and he’s like you need to see him right away so it was about a three-hour wait before my call so of course all the scenarios were running through head but I went down there after he called he showed me on a chart and you you know, and there was a melanoma, pretty serious one.
And I had surgery right there. He just put me on the, on the table and had surgery right there and cut it out.
And by God’s grace, I was, I was fine after that. It’s, it’s a pretty good scar.
It’s a big Z and they had to go pretty deep.
But I mean, that was by the grace of God, because that never should have happened.
And I certainly wasn’t going to go on my own.
And, you know, who knows, I go on another year. I, you know, I was, there’s different stages and I was teetering right on the borderline of stage stage three, where he’s like, this is where you’re at.
And he’s like, that’s why we’re doing surgery now, not tomorrow.
And I said, okay, you know, whatever you gotta do.

[18:06] So that was, uh, that was pretty big wake up call and.

[18:10] And yeah, that was certainly part of my journey. I’m not in a place of fear or scared of death, of more of just, is that a normal occurrence?
You know, and that kind of set the wheels in motion a little bit in my life.
Fun Fact: Coach Brad Larson’s NHL Draft Experience

[18:26] All right, Steph, I’m going to test you again here. What is your favorite book of all time? Obviously, it’s the Bible, Kevin. Yes. Nailed it.
Very good. This time you didn’t say the book we wrote called You Met Her Where.
But it’s still a really good book. book. That is true. And it would make a great gift for friends or relatives on their birthday or for Christmas.
Friends, you can order your copy of our book titled You Met Her Where at kevinandsteph.com.
And we will make sure to personally sign a copy for you or whoever you want.
And as always, thank you for listening to tell us a good story.

[18:57] Fun facts. All right, coach. For all of our guests, I like to give a list of fun facts to let listeners know what you’ve done, what you’ve accomplished.
And Steph is not aware of any of these. Okay, So you’re going to see her genuine reaction, Coach, to these.
I might be reacting genuinely, too. You never know.
And if I’m wrong on any of these, please correct me. Let me know.
All right, Steph, ready? Yeah. Fun fact number one.
Coach Brad here apparently was drafted twice in the NHL draft.
He was drafted by the Ottawa Senators round three, number 53 overall in the 1995 NHL draft.
And then he was drafted by the Colorado Avalanche in 1997 in round four.
So coach what is the draft experience like as an athlete are you watching tv the whole time is it stressful are you excited do you get ticked off when somebody thinks you’re better than gets drafted ahead of you how’s that experience like it’s different i mean um you know the first time i went to the draft my in 95 and and you know i had an idea of where i could get drafted it could be like first round it could all be slip all the way to third there was less teams back then too so So you’re watching guys go ahead of you.
And of course, when you’re young, you’re like, wow, I was as good as that guy.
I’m better than that. You know, you have no idea. You think you’re much better than you are, probably a very inflated view of yourself.

[20:15] So it’s hard, like, especially the first round is very dragged out and I never went in the first round and then day two starts.
And so obviously getting your name called, it’s a thrill.
My parents were there and it was a big day and you’re part of an organization.
And so how that happened transpires. I got traded.
It was a year and a half later. I was at World Junior. So I was playing for Team Canada.
We had won gold medal and that was an awesome experience. Came back and I got traded to Colorado. Colorado.
So at the end of the season, they flew me into Detroit with my parents and my agent to watch a game because that was a big rivalry. So they did this kind of presentation.
And I left there going, gosh, I don’t think I’m ever going to make this team. They were so good.
And, you know, the Joe Sackix and Peter Forsberg and all these young players that maybe you may or may not have heard of, but they’re Hall of Famers, All-Stars. I just didn’t see it fit.
And I talked with my agent. So we respectfully declined their offer.
And it wasn’t a money thing. It wasn’t there was no animosity I just said I don’t see me playing so I decided to go back and not sign and go back in the draft well okay they left a little caveat with me and said hey listen if you’re available where we think we can get you we will draft you again and I’m like there’s no chance they’re gonna do that right so I didn’t go to that draft I actually was on a trip to Mexico.

[21:29] And I landed called my parents I’m like hey so what happened they’re like well you’re not going to believe it but they redrafted you and I’m going oh my god I didn’t know that it was the same team Yeah, same team. They redrafted me. So it turned out great.
I’m so, so thankful I got to be part of that organization and that team.
But at the time, I’m going, what just happened? I’m thinking, it’s devastating, right? You know, a young guy, you have no idea.
So that’s how it happened.
They used me as an example when guys wouldn’t sign.
I found out later on, if you don’t want to sign, we may draft you again.
You know, we did it with Brad Larson.
And so I was kind of the poster child of, you may not get away free.
That’s wild. But it’s also really cool because it just shows you how much they did want you. You know? So that’s pretty awesome.
Yeah. That’s how I took it, I’m sure. Yeah. They just really, really wanted me. Yeah. Yeah.

[22:22] All right, Steph. Fun fact number two. During his playing career, Brad played for the Hershey Bears, Chicago Wolves, and Portland Pirates in the AHL, which is the minor league for the NHL.
Okay. Before going on to play for both the Avalanche and the Atlanta Thrashers in the NHL.
So, Coach, one of my old bosses at JPMorgan Chase, he played hockey for Ohio State.
And apparently he was like the enforcer for the Ohio State hockey team.
Got kicked out of the Big Ten tournament for a cheap shot on one of the other teams.
But during a conversation with him, he told me, behind the scenes, most hockey players are a little nuts, a little crazy.
So, you played a lot of games in the minor leagues. What’s one of the crazier things you saw and you actually kind of you may have mentioned it earlier with that with that 33 fight Game, but what’s one of the things you saw with the teammate or something behind the scenes coach? Oh Yeah, I think that’s definitely up there because that experience, that shocked me.
I was expecting it to be rough, but not 33 fights in three line brawls rough.
So that was like, wow, what did I get myself into a little bit?

[23:28] I guess one other experience we had was one time we were getting ready to play.
This was in the morning. We’re getting to play and I can’t remember the team. So pardon me on that.
But there was a trade and it was a guy off that team and he brought his bag, walked across the hall, got in there.
Our room and he played that night against his former team really no yeah no joke yeah that was it he brought his suitcase he brought his uh his bag over and he ended up playing that night it was a defenseman playing against the team that he had traveled there with we played against him that night so that was a welcome welcome to the league kid and this guy wow like now you’re playing against all your friends like hey hey bill yeah tim you showed up you showed up that that morning thinking we’re playing the bears and all of a sudden you’re with the bears playing your your team and like gosh i can’t remember who it was or who the team was but uh-huh because yeah he would walk across the ice he would have had all of his old old team’s hockey gear yeah right to get get all his clubs yeah he came over and they gave him all the gear this was a new bag obviously late late morning yeah the whole thing just a strange circumstance that that doesn’t happen often obviously but that was a very strange circumstance that’s crazy all right All right, Steph, according to HockeyDB.com and HockeyReference.com, because I had to double check this stat, Coach Brad here played one game for the Colorado Avalanche during the 1997-98 NHL hockey season.

[24:49] How do you play one game, Coach? You played six minutes, I believe, this game.
They call you up and then after the game, like, hey, thank you for your service.
You can go back now. How does that work?

[25:01] So that was my first NHL game ever. I’ll never forget it.
I was it was an off day in Hershey okay I was actually at the gym there’s a local gym there that we used uh and so I was just having a light workout I get a an announcement over the PA system I if this is back you’re not carrying cell phones around and doing all that right you know I’m aging myself but so hey would Brad Larson come to the front desk and I’m like oh what’s going on I’m thinking something bad right you know did somebody die or so I get on the phone and it’s my head head coach and he’s like, Lars, you just got called up.
I’m like, Whoa, I mean, my heart just dropped. And he’s like, your flight leaves in 90 minutes. You got to hurry.
So, I mean, I raced home, grabbed a couple of suits rate to the rink, off to the airport, luckily made my flight.
So my first game was in San Jose and I had to fly. So you’re going Percy, Pennsylvania, across the country. Yes. All the way to San Jose.
And it was a, I think it was a noon or one o’clock game the next day.
I didn’t care. I mean, I could have played with no sleep. It wouldn’t have mattered.
And so I got there and got dressed. And as I’m, this is great.
So I brought, I wore a suit, of course, to travel in. And then I had a suit with me. This is a brand new suit, a pinstripe suit.
I just bought it in Philly. We had, there’s a King of Pressure Mall.
And so I’d spent a bunch of money on the suit.
Well, in all my excitement, I left it on the plane.

[26:20] And I never recovered that suit, never got it back. I went to the game, played a game, and it was just a one-game thing.
Obviously, you don’t know at the time how it’s going to be, but somebody, I think, became ill or got injured in practice. So that was my first NHL game.
And Mark Crawford was the head coach. I will never forget him putting me on the ice.
There was like two minutes left for up by goal, and I’m going, what am I doing out here right now?
You know, just terrified. But, but I got that first one in, I remember I got to call my parents and go, look, no one can ever take that away from me.
I’ve made it. I played my first NHL game and it took a while to get back, but to see your name and being in the lineup and get an NHL game, that was, you know, that was something that I’ll never forget.
Okay, so when did they tell you then, Coach? All right, hey, thank you for coming to San Jose.
Go ahead and jump on the flight back. Yeah, right after the game.
As soon as the game’s over. Yeah, I was right over. Yeah, it was done.
And hey, your flight leaves tomorrow.
I’m like, I didn’t honestly, I didn’t even care. I was like, I just played a game in the NHL and we won and it was thrilling.
So I’m like, no problem. I was more worried about just brand new suit. I never got to wear.
I actually went back to that same store the next week and bought the same suit. Steph.
Finding Incredible Guests

[27:33] What is one of the most asked questions we get about Tell Us a Good Story?
Do I really get that excited?
Besides that one. Oh, how do we get all these incredible guests? Correct.
And some of our best conversations have been with guests who our listeners have reached out to us and said, you should talk to this person.
To name just a few, Nick Vujicic, Coach Tom Ryan, Carol Matico were all recommendations from our listeners.
So if there’s someone you would like us to interview and think they might be a great fit for Tell Us A Good Story, please let us know at kevinandsteph.com.
You don’t even have to personally know them. True, but do me a favor.
Before you submit their names, please make sure they are still alive.
That has actually happened, and it is super hard for me to find their contact information. But regardless, thank you for listening to Tell Us A Good Story.
Okay, you have mentioned so many amazing moments in your hockey career, from the 33 fights to playing your first NHL hockey game to winning gold with Team Canada.
What’s been your most amazing memory as a hockey player?
It’s hard to narrow it to one. It really is because I was 13 years pro hockey as a player, minors in NHL.
I was 13 years as a coach too. And there’s a lot of.

[28:48] Different moments and obviously different places in your life when you’re in one sport like this is the first year I haven’t been in pro hockey in 26 years so wow six straight years I was in pro hockey and so what we just talked about that first game that was a highlight because coming from you’re a small kid hometown kid in Armstrong British Columbia this tiny place in the middle of nowhere and you actually made it you’re going wow I made it you know and so that was thrilling my first goal ironically was in San Jose years later I hadn’t scored in the first like 50 games this is how bad i was i never scored a goal it took me 52 games i think to score my first inning till i finally scored that was in san jose um so i i was fortunate to play for my country three times wow i i played for team canada under 18 team we won a gold medal uh i was captain of that team so that was a big honor and then the next year won world juniors uh won gold medal then the next year played world juniors again for team canada and i was captain that one won a gold medal So anytime you can play for your country, that was amazing.

[29:48] And, and, and we were spoiled. We, we won all three times. So my memories are great from that experience. Right. So, but that was great.
Um, I would say like my first head coach win in the American league was, was awesome.
Just to, you know, you’re, you’re switching gears and I knew I wanted to retire and I was ready to, uh, actually my last, my last year pro and, and, and, you know, I was diagnosed with testicular cancer, believe it or not.
I didn’t share that with anybody. So we lost in the first round and, and I was still playing.
So we ended up, I went through radiation and surgery, all that stuff.
And then I was ready to retire. I wanted to quit. I was so excited about coaching, but I really wanted to quit.
And I was forced to get the job. So I got Columbus hired me as assistant coach in the minors. And so that was a big moment just being their first time at coach.
And then coming to the NHL.

[30:34] I’ll never forget this moment with Torts and our coaching staff when we beat Tampa Bay in that first round.
In most hockey circles, it wouldn’t be a big deal. You’re like, gosh, it’s round one.
Just get over it. But just the idea that Tampa Bay, they just set records.
They destroyed the league.
We had played them four games in the regular season. I think they outscored us 21-3.

[31:00] We were supposed to get swept and swept bad. it wasn’t the other way around and and we just built momentum every game in that series and and the guys were just galvanized it was awesome to watch and and the real joy was game four in nationwide nobody sat the whole game my dad was at the game he couldn’t see it to watch on the jumbo trunk because he had heart issues and he has to sit and watch he couldn’t stand the whole game but the energy was just and i’ve been to some big games i was in game seven in colorado when we won the stanley cup and and uh ray bork won his first cup that energy was special this was right up there so we we score an empty net goal then another empty net goal so as a coach you can actually enjoy the moment you’re not terrified they’re going to come back i think we’re up by three or four at that point with only two minutes left and to watch the fans to watch the crowd like people were crying people were hugging like it literally felt like we won the stanley cup that’s what it was like so i’ll never forget that moment and and just sitting in in the room with the coaches and torts and and our group sitting there and torts looking over he’s like what did we just do and i’m like i don’t know like we just we couldn’t you’re in the series and it’s intense and we know every game as we win like we can’t let them win because they could get back in the series in a heartbeat right they’re that good and we just never gave them any life and and it was was over and you’re going, wow, did that just happen?

[32:25] You know, so that, that was pretty special. And then getting named to head coach myself, you know, and, um.

[32:32] On a personal level, you know, to climb the mountain twice is how I put it.
You know, I made it as a small kid in the NHL and was fortunate enough to carve a little career and then retired and built it again and was able to get to the top again.
And really, there’s only at that time, it’s only 31 head jobs in the world. Right.
It’s not like there’s 700 jobs as a player. So it even got harder.
And obviously, it never ends how you want it to end. And not many guys do.
But that’s the business. But to get there twice and to do that, those moments are all special to me. I love that.
Okay. So with your dad having a heart issue, please tell me he’s not sitting near that cannon.
Life Lessons and Baptism

[33:12] I warned him. I warned him. Yes. And he knew. So yeah, it’s definitely a risk.
All right. Like he just said, on June 10th, 2021, Coach Larson was named the eighth head coach in Columbus Blue Jackets history. However, after just two seasons, the Blue Jackets made the decision to move on after the regular season ended.
So 26 years, 13 playing, 13 coaching.
End of Playing Career

[33:38] So 2009, 2010 hockey season was coach Brad’s last as a professional hockey player.
He played in 294 games over eight seasons in the NHL.
So during your playing career, coach, you were not known as a man of faith. No.
After after playing, what led you to Christ?
You know, everyone always points to the cancer, to bouts with cancer, and honestly, that wasn’t really it.
I remember sitting in my apartment in Colorado, and this was in the summer, and finally it kind of made the NHL, and you have a nice car, you got some things, you got a little bit of money.
I wasn’t making millions of dollars by any means, I was making bare league minimum, but for a young guy, I didn’t have a family, it’s plenty of money, right?

[34:19] You go home and everyone’s telling you how great you are. But it was like I’m sitting there going, something’s missing.
And I know what it is now. I just didn’t have peace. I didn’t have God in the middle of it.
And so it put me on that journey of just searching.
Okay, well, what is this religion thing? Or what does that look like?
And you start to invite God in. God’s always there. But all of a sudden, he starts to reveal some things.

[34:42] And, you know, I was fortunate enough to meet my wife in Atlanta.
And she was a Christian. And she had a major influence in that.
My last year pro i played with a guy who was a christian and he i remember him standing up and he was like hey hockey ministries will be here every thursday if you guys want to start coming to chapel you can go and i was like yeah i remember i went to one chapel i was terrified because i didn’t understand what they’re talking about and they’re talking about the bible and like you know all these the gospels i had no clue what any of this stuff was so i didn’t go for a week or two and then i went back and i went back and then i went back again so between my wife joe depenta who was my teammate at the point um really helped me in that and then and the journey just kind of i didn’t hit rock bottom i didn’t have anything like tragic i wasn’t you know nothing crazy happened my wife here i remember i believe it was her birthday i remember waking up and and saying like i’m ready i’m ready to give myself to christ and she’s like really are you sure like yeah i’m ready and there was a lot of events in there and again yeah i’m sure so i did that but But then May 22nd, 2011, that’s the date I have in my head. And that’s when I got baptized.
And I had her father baptize me in a pool in Georgia in front of all her family.
And, you know, I cried and was all emotional. And I remember waking up the next day just completely terrified.

[35:56] Going, what have I done? You know, what have I done? You know, I knew what I’d done, but what have you done?
You know, you have this image and this persona. Like you said, I was not a Christian for much of my career.
So you can imagine, you know, my thought process and my goals and values.
And so the scary part was going, okay, how do I associate with my teammates?
How do I tell them? How do I, you know, it was all this stuff.
I remember my wife gifted me a Bible and I’m staring at it going, what do I do with that?
What is that? It was like a giant coaster to me.
So I just put my coffee on it.
But her dad was great. He’s like, you know, read the Gospels.
And I’m like, okay, well, tell me what the Gospels are. You know, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. And then he’s like, well, just start in John.
His best advice, I’ll never forget it, was just get to know Jesus.
He’s like, don’t worry about understanding everything.
Don’t worry about, you know, there’s going to be lots you won’t.
But just get to know who Jesus was.
And so I started coming through John. And that kind of started the journey.
And that journey still goes today. day if you like what you hear please tell someone about us as soon as this episode is over go tell your spouse your closest friend a parent a co-worker or share one of our posts on social media however if you don’t like what you’re hearing please do not don’t tell anyone don’t tell anyone don’t tell anybody just disregard this message don’t worry about it about us yeah go on with your merry day and to get more information about us or our entire catalog of episodes be sure to check us out at kevin and steph.com thank you for listening to tell tell us a good story.

[37:23] All right, Steph, final fun fact. Coach Larson is married to his wife, Hannah. They have two children.
He now coaches his son’s youth hockey team. Yeah.
Okay. So coach, first off, I think you’re the world’s most overqualified youth hockey coach. Overpaid too.

[37:41] But if I’m on the other team, right, this feels a little bit like Mighty Ducks versus the Hawks. Yes. Right.
So how are the other teams coaches? Are they Are they trying to impress you?
Are they going over the top? What? Are they getting your autograph?
Yes. Like, how does that work with the other youth parents with you?
No, it’s certainly not like that. I certainly won’t speak for other coaches and what they’re doing.
But first of all, let’s get it clear. I’m one of the assistant coaches. I am not the head.

[38:08] And he asked me to do it, so we’re doing it together. It’s been a thrill. It’s been amazing.
And, yeah, I just really enjoyed the opportunity to coach my son and be with him every day.

[38:19] And we’ve got to go to tournaments, stuff that you never get to do because you’re so busy, right?

[38:24] Like in the years, I might catch four or five games if I’m lucky, you know.
Coaching Youth Hockey

[38:28] And I’ve been to every game and we’ve been to all the tournaments and and you get this incredible quality time and and you know my wife and my daughter stay back because we have we have a little farm and we got we rescue horses so we have horses and we got dogs and cats so somebody has to be around so they’re doing all the work but it’s just been it’s been awesome I mean people have been very respectful and the kids have been awesome and and I it crazy as it sounds I had never coached that level so I’ve only coached pro hockey so it took me a while to figure out what can we do here because and in our league here we only get half-ice practices too like you only you share the ice right right you get 50 minutes and I’m going what what are our capabilities like what do you actually teach an 11 year old 12 year old why can’t these kids skate backwards yeah the skill is it’s this thing like I it was it’s a whole new world that I’ve been introduced used to and you know i’ve been learning on the fly from my other coaches from the kids so there’s lots to learn here are you strapping on your skates and like oh you have to with the kids not competing all skates are on every practice i enjoy i get that i get to get on the ice and again everyone’s like how do you miss playing i’m like not one bit i mean i was when i left the game i was done i my body had been three or four or five surgeries whatever it was and i and it was enough but just to get on the ice i still love the game and just to you know shoot a puck here year-and-a-half pass, converse with the kids. That part of it I really enjoy.

[39:53] Well, Steph, anything else you want to ask before we let Coach go here?
I would love to ask so many things, but I don’t want to annoy him.
We would respect all of his time here. Yes, yes. Go for it. I’m here.
Do you have anything else, Steph? Did you ever play against Wayne Gretzky?
Oh. I don’t think I ever. I tried. My son was asking because he retired in 99.
And I don’t think I ever got the chance. I was mostly in the minors from 98 to 2001.
2001 so we never crossed paths which uh which is unfortunate because my favorite team growing up was the Oilers Edmonton Oilers I bet but my favorite player ironically was Mark Messier and Wendell Clark but I remember I had that kind of aha moment my first year first full year in the NHL and I was skating around in Madison Square Gardens and I’m stretching at the red line I look over and it’s Mark Messier doing the same stretch and I’m like oh my lord there he is I just it was like he’s like he was I I was actually starstruck I tried to fight him actually to the third period. You did?
Yeah. And he kind of just looked at me and he had me around my throat.
And I’m like, you want to go? And I didn’t really want to, Because I knew I was going to lose, but I’m like, man, what a story if I fought him. And he didn’t even say a word. He just kind of stared at me like, you don’t want any of this?
And that was it. And I’m like, I was kind of thankful he didn’t.
You don’t want this smoke, punk man. No, and I would have got smoked.
I mean, he had a grip on me, and I’m like, wow, he’s got me strong.
But I was like, you want to go? And he’s like, no, kid.

[41:20] I’ve won five Stanley Cups, and you’re some punk trying to make a name.
So I was very thankful he didn’t, actually. does your son feel hey wait i thought we didn’t have any more questions.
Pressure as the Coach’s Son

[41:32] You’re right we got some time so does your son feel pressured being your son oh yeah no i i don’t think so i think he’s he handles it really well and with him i was very intentional not to coach him uh-huh like i i didn’t want him to play hockey because i didn’t he started about four or five years old he really started to i guess connect with the players and And, you know, I’d have him to rink a little bit.
But as far as coaching, like we go on the ice, there was no coaching.
He was that kid when he first joined a team two, three years ago.
He had no clue what to do on the ice. He had no clue drills.
I remember talking to the coach going, listen, I have intentionally not coached him. So he’s raw.
He is raw. But you know what? He’s actually a pretty good little player.

[42:16] But what I love about him, he just enjoys playing. He loves to come to the rink and play.
And, you know, if God pulls him towards that way, that’s fine.
You know, part of me doesn’t even want him to go that route because I know all the hardship that comes with it. Yeah.
I lived it. But then, you know, at the end of the day, that’s not my decision and I’ll support him any way he wants. Yeah.
Journey from High School to Pros

[42:36] We’ll let God kind of make those deciding factors for him. I forget already. Did you go to college?

[42:42] No, no. You went from high school to? Yeah, so a little different back then.
So I got drafted when I was 18, and then I played one more year, and then I turned pro at 19 and started playing in the minors, yeah.
So you went right to the minors. Yep. Can you imagine that schedule, just traveling nonstop?
Yeah. I left home at 15 to pursue hockey. For the juniors? Yeah.
Yeah, I was playing the leagues really.
I was one of the better players younger, obviously, like most guys in the NHL, and kind of outgrew that quickly.
And so there was a junior team, and I went and played junior.
I was about four or five hours from home, lived with a billet family at 15 years old. Yeah, crazy.
Playing against 21-year-olds. Was that a hard decision to make for not only you but your parents?
Well, see, you don’t know any better. As a 15-year-old, I’m like, yeah, let’s do it. Why not?
Why wouldn’t I? you know and but now being a parent my daughter’s 14 i’m like no chance you’re yeah yeah there’s there’s no way i i asked i told my parents like what were you thinking as you walk out the door are you crazy do you understand how messed up i am because of that you know so it’s kind of ironic as you get older and you look at your own kids i’m like no chance there’s no way just knowing what the world’s about and knowing what my values are and and our values as a family it’s totally different now it’s not you know my goal as a kid i want to play in the nhl that was it yeah.
Perspective on Past Achievements

[44:04] That’s not my goal for my son that’s not my goal for my daughter it’s like okay i want you to be grounded in your faith and that’s yeah then whatever you do whatever so hey i was gonna ask you earlier coach where do you keep your gold medals at i gave them to my dad so we got i got three gold medals and three rings and but i gifted them all to my dad years ago that stuff now Now, it doesn’t mean much. It doesn’t matter, right?
No, it doesn’t. And it’s not because they weren’t fun. They were great.
I mean, I would look at them again and probably my son would get a kick out of them, you know, and the rings.
But it’s more about that team coming together and doing it as a group and what they went through and how challenging that is.
Well, Coach, thank you so much for coming on here with us. Tell us a good story.
God bless you, sir. And I’m excited to see just the next steps, right, that God has for you and your family. And we’ll be keeping your family, your wife in our prayers. Absolutely.
Thank you so much. Yeah, no, this is kind of the exciting time is what’s in store. And so we’ll see.
Friends, we want to encourage you to please follow us wherever you listen to this, whether it’s on the Apple Podcast app, iHeartRadio, Spotify, or one of the other platforms. You guys, it’s completely free.
And while you’re there, feel free to give us a rating or a nice review.
Thank you for listening to Tell Us a Good Story.

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Today we talk to retired NHL player and former head coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets, Coach Brad Larsen.

Kevin + Steph had so many hockey questions for Coach Larsen. What happens when you lose your teeth during a game on the ice? How do you know when someone wants to fight you in hockey? And why was he drafted TWICE in the NHL draft…by the same team?! Other stories include:

– Playing in his first NHL hockey game and then immediately being told he was going back down to the minor leagues.
– As a rookie, trying to start a fight with his childhood hero, Mark Messier.
– How the Civil War cannon at the CBJ games not only startles the fans but also scares the coaches AND players.

Coach Larsen also shares some touching personal stories such as surviving two bouts with cancer and why he considers May 22, 2011, to be the greatest day of his life.

We can’t wait for you to hear this fun and uplifting conversation with Coach Brad Larsen.

Guest Details

📘 Their book titled ‘You Met Her WHERE?!’ can be ordered here: 👉 kevinandsteph.com/book

Access the Show Transcript Here

EP208 – Coach Brad Larsen
Retired NHL player Brad Larson discusses hockey experiences, physicality, fighting culture, and coaching journey, highlighting themes of faith and family.
2024, Team Mason
Tell Us A Good Story

Produced by Clawson Solutions Group, LLC https://csolgroup.com

Generated Shownotes
Chapters
0:00:00 Introduction to Coach Brad Larson
0:00:56 Kevin and Stephanie’s Personal Journey
0:01:24 Reminder and Appreciation for Subscribers
0:01:57 Excitement to Interview Coach Brad Larson
0:02:38 Gratitude for Coach Brad Larson’s Participation
0:03:15 Are Your Teeth Real?
0:04:48 The Intensity of Hockey Fights
0:10:15 The Evolution of Fighting in Hockey
0:11:51 The Consequences of Picking Up Gloves
0:13:58 The Startling Columbus Blue Jackets Cannon
0:15:51 Coach Brad Larson’s Wake-Up Call
0:18:26 Fun Fact: Coach Brad Larson’s NHL Draft Experience
0:27:33 Finding Incredible Guests
0:33:12 Life Lessons and Baptism
0:33:37 End of Playing Career
0:38:27 Coaching Youth Hockey
0:41:32 Pressure as the Coach’s Son
0:42:35 Journey from High School to Pros
0:44:04 Perspective on Past Achievements
Long Summary
In this episode, the host introduces retired NHL player and former head coach, Coach Brad Larson, as they dive into a captivating conversation about his experiences in hockey. Coach Larson shares compelling stories, from fights and missing teeth to encounters with his childhood hero, Mark Messier. He opens up about personal challenges, including overcoming cancer and finding faith, adding depth to the discussion. The conversation delves into the physical grit of hockey, touching on injuries like losing teeth and breaking bones, giving listeners a glimpse into the toughness required in the sport.

The lively exchange between the host, Stephanie, and Coach Larson explores the culture of fighting in hockey, with Coach Larson recounting intense games with multiple fights and line brawls. The trio delves into the peculiarities of the sport, including the impact of the Columbus Blue Jackets’ Civil War cannon on players and spectators. Humor and curiosity infuse the interview, creating an engaging atmosphere that keeps listeners entertained throughout. The blend of hockey anecdotes, personal triumphs, and shared passion for the sport makes for a dynamic and memorable episode.

As the interview progresses, Coach Larson shares humorous tales, such as pranking new players on the ice, before delving into significant life events like discovering melanoma and undergoing surgery. The conversation meanders through Coach Brad’s draft experiences, brief NHL stint, minor league adventures, and playing for his country, offering listeners a comprehensive look at his hockey career. The episode is interspersed with humor and candid reflections, providing engaging stories and insights into the world of professional hockey.

Reflecting on his coaching career, Coach Larson highlights key moments like his first head coach win and beating Tampa Bay in a series, showcasing his coaching prowess. He opens up about personal challenges, including battling testicular cancer and finding solace through faith, emphasizing the importance of family and faith in his life. The conversation touches on his transition from playing to coaching, coaching his son’s team, and the impact of faith on his journey. The hosts express admiration for Coach Larson’s coaching style, commitment to family, and interactions with hockey legends, wrapping up the episode with well-wishes for his future endeavors.
Brief Summary
Retired NHL player and former head coach, Coach Brad Larson, joins the host in a captivating conversation about his hockey experiences. Coach Larson shares stories ranging from fights and encounters with Mark Messier to overcoming cancer and finding faith. The discussion delves into the physical aspect of hockey, discussing injuries and the toughness required in the sport. They explore the culture of fighting in hockey and peculiarities like the impact of the Columbus Blue Jackets’ Civil War cannon. The lively exchange is infused with humor and curiosity, offering engaging anecdotes and insights into Coach Larson’s career and coaching journey. His personal challenges, coaching highlights, and the role of faith and family are key themes throughout the dynamic and memorable episode.
Tags
Retired NHL player, former head coach, Brad Larson, hockey experiences, fights, Mark Messier, overcoming cancer, faith, physical aspect, injuries, toughness, culture of fighting, Columbus Blue Jackets, Civil War cannon, coaching journey, personal challenges, coaching highlights, faith, family
Transcript
Introduction to Coach Brad Larson

[0:00] Hello, friends. Welcome to another episode of Tell Us a Good Story.
Today, we get to talk to a retired NHL player and former head coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets, Coach Brad Larson.
You guys, this conversation was so much fun. I had so many questions to ask him about hockey, such as, are his teeth real?
Nope. And how does fighting work in hockey? Does he have any good fight stories? Yep.
Such as this story about his first professional hockey game when there were 33 fights, you guys.
And the story about him being a rookie in the NHL and trying Trying to start a fight with his childhood hero, Mark Messier. So funny.
But also, Coach Larson shares some incredible personal stories, such as his two bouts with cancer and how May 22, 2011 is what he calls the greatest day of his life.
That was the day he was baptized and gave his life to Christ, and his life has never been the same.
You guys, this was such a fun conversation, and we can’t wait for you to hear this episode with our new friend, Coach Brad Larson.
Kevin and Stephanie’s Personal Journey

[0:56] I’m Kevin. And I’m Stephanie. And during our marriage, we have dealt with an electrocution, a brain tumor, brain surgery.
Then doctors telling us that children were not in our future, followed by miscarriage, and then Kevin’s cancer diagnosis.
However, today, we live a life completely healed and restored with three healthy children who doctors said were not possible.
And we’re here to tell stories that inspire, give hope, and brighten your day.
Welcome to… Tell Us a Good Story.
Reminder and Appreciation for Subscribers

[1:25] Okay, friends, before we get to this episode, just a friendly reminder to please hit the subscribe button on YouTube and Apple podcast or give us a review five stars, please.
In our world, this is super, super important, because it will help with the algorithm to make it easier for people to find us.
And thank you for sharing our posts across your social media that really helps with engagement and with us getting guests.
Yes. So hey, if you want us to keep working our way up to talking to Chip and Joanna.
Yes! Please share us with your friends. But regardless, thank you for listening to Tell Us a Good Story.
Excitement to Interview Coach Brad Larson

[1:58] Steph, this is going to be so much fun. You love his voice. I love his voice.
Well, friends, our next guest is a professional hockey coach and former player who most recently served as the head coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets.
And before coaching, he played over eight seasons in the NHL with the Colorado Avalanche and the Atlanta Thrashers.
Ladies and gentlemen, and please welcome to Tell Us Good Story, Coach Brad Larson. Coach Brad Larson!
We’re so excited! Thanks for having me, guys. I appreciate it.
You ready for this? Oh, I’m ready. I’ve heard about you. I’m ready. Really?
All in a good way. Oh, Coach, I’m so freaking excited about this.
Gratitude for Coach Brad Larson’s Participation

[2:38] So, first off, Coach, thank you for saying yes to Steph and I.
I’d like to share how I actually… Are you Canadian?
Oh, yeah. Of course. I can hear it. I’m like, oh, my gosh, he’s Canadian.
All I want to do is hear him talk.
Well, I’ve lived here now for, yeah, I moved here when I was 19.
I’m 46. So it’s been a while.
But you still have it. Yeah, it’s funny because my parents will come and visit.
And wow, are they Canadian. Everything’s like right on A for sure.
It’s hilarious. I know why they make fun of us. I get it.
Are Your Teeth Real?

[3:15] Wait, can I ask him my question again? Yes, go ahead. Steph’s dying to ask you this, Coach. Okay. Go for it. You are a former hockey player.
So tell me, are your teeth real?
No, no, of course not. Really? Not if you’re a true hockey player.
These front four, I lost. Well, you can’t see it because I got a beard going, but I have a scar here.
And it was, I believe, my second year pro. I was playing in the minors in the American League in Hershey.
And we were on the road in Philly, and I was chasing down this defenseman.
And he swung a stick back.
It ramped up my stick, hit me right in the mouth, split my lip open.
I lost all these four teeth.
And the fun about the American League is that you don’t get to see a dentist for a little bit. It takes a little bit. We’re on the road.
So I lost these four teeth, and my four roots are hanging out.
And there’s bits of teeth in my mouth for the next couple days.

[4:04] So because we had three games in three days, so all I did was I would chew gum, and I would pack the gum over the roots and the teeth, And that’s how I live for the next two, three days.
Because, I mean, if you’ve ever had an exposure, the sensitivity is torture. So…
We could barely drink water. Like when I was drinking water, it had to be kind of through the side or through a straw.
So, yeah. So these four. And the good news was they were actually crooked.
And this one was tucked in behind. So now they’re all straight.
So, you know, something good came out of it. Okay. So when that happens, afterwards, is everyone on their hands looking for teeth?
Go search for them. Yes. How does that work?
These were shattered. There was no searching for them. When it hit.

[4:47] I mean, they were more concerned.
The Intensity of Hockey Fights

[4:49] There was so much blood from the from the lip that got so they were sewing that up and then when i opened up it was just i mean they were gone and not in like nice pieces they were shattered yeah so so it literally was like there was pieces of tooth that you’re spitting out all the rest of the game that night like kind of rinsing out your mouth constantly for the next two days is that the rite of passage for a true hockey player to lose teeth i don’t know if it’s a to write a passage but it happens i mean this is back you know i’m a little older i’m 46 so we didn’t wear mouth guards and i didn’t wear a visor or anything like that this was just full frontal you know it’s exposed all the time so back then it was very common occurrence lose teeth and and you know face scars all that stuff right that just kind of comes with the territory if you.

[5:37] Go far enough but steph how would you sleep for the next three days being that much there’s no way there was lots of medication just to just to dull the pain and you you’ve broken fingers and toes and and and had all that stuff and surgeries but there’s something about an yes nerves and teeth and if anybody’s ever had it they understand how bad that is like it you know a tooth takes one thing but when roots are exposed it’s like that’s another level steph i i couldn’t to wait wait 33 days no way I’d like okay I quit get me to a hospital like you gotta fix this now when you don’t have a choice that’s what it is is that your worst injury that you had.

[6:18] Pain-wise well I mean there’s several times broken feet you know but you played through that as long as it wouldn’t get displaced you could play through that and broken fingers, again back then you kind of just taped them together and they would cut your glove and maneuver that so you know I broke my jaw I took a flap shot to the face it it hit me hit me here this isn’t practice actually hit me I didn’t see it coming hit me inside and I dropped and and got got up, and I was spitting blood, obviously, and the poor guy who did it, he was so apologetic, and I could barely talk, and I went off the ice immediately, went, got x-rays, and they said, you know, you’re fine.
It hit me here, and he said, you’re going to be okay, so I went the next week.

[7:02] Thinking I just, my teeth had shifted and just was very sore from the impact.
Well, my jaw here and my gum line started to swell so bad and bleed, like I couldn’t, all I could eat was mashed potatoes and milkshakes and if i chewed i could actually feel my jaw shift and my assistant coach at the time said look you you better go get looked at again so i went back and they x-rayed here and it had cracked all the way down um here so i have a i have a scar you can’t see it there’s a scar here i actually have a plate and four screws in my jaw um they did surgery that next day but for a week i’m practicing and and thinking oh my god got soreness oh that that was painful that was one of the worst by far because i didn’t know and i didn’t want to say anything and say right but once they found the crack they they x-rayed the impact but not where it because of the impact it broke here okay and so they there was the next day was surgery and screws and plates and all that fun stuff okay so you mentioned other people hurting you with your teeth with a slap shot have you knocked anybody else’s teeth out oh it’s possible by accident you don’t really No, it happened so quick.
And yeah, you know, sticks are flying. You shoot pucks, they get deflected.
Like, I mean, that’s just part of hockey.
Yeah. And so I’m sure it’s happened by accident and it certainly wasn’t on purpose.
Certainly. Certainly wasn’t on purpose. No, it couldn’t have been. It couldn’t have been.

[8:24] I’m a different man now. Maybe back then some of it was. Yes, that’s a good point.
BC days, right? Before Christ. Amen. Amen.

[8:34] All right, Steph, I’ve got a question for you. What’s your favorite book of all time? Obviously, You Met Her Where.
Oh, I thought you were going to say the Bible. Oh, oops.
What’s your second favorite book of all time? You Met Her Where?

[8:53] A distant second totally distant it’s pretty good book sorry god it’s still a pretty good book but we’re so excited where can people get our book okay i know this uh amazon.com yes barnes and noble yes and and our website kevinstuff.com and what happens if they buy it off our website what do they get uh an autograph from us yes who wouldn’t want that so listeners if you’ve You’ve already read the book.
Thank you so much. We’ve had such good feedback.
One thing that helps us, if you can give us a review on amazon.com, we would greatly appreciate it. Thank you so much. And thank you for listening.

[9:32] Okay. So Steph and I do want to ask about another part of hockey. Yes.
Fighting. All right. So I’ll tell you a quick story. So the first hockey game I ever went to, I was in high school and our church youth group took us to the old Columbus chill.
All right. which was like a minor league hockey team here in Columbus.
This was actually right before the Blue Jackets came into town.
Coach, there were so many fights in that minor league hockey game.
That’s the only thing I remember. But I remember just cheering them on.
We’re screaming. And our youth leader is like, whose idea was this?
Why did we bring these teenage boys to see all these guys fight?
So how does fighting work?

[10:12] Is it you look at somebody else? Is it you say something?
The Evolution of Fighting in Hockey

[10:16] Thing how do you know if somebody wants to fight you well i i think things have changed quite a bit from even when i came in the league and beforehand there was um like teams were built much differently they they had guys specifically that’s all they did and oh really yeah they they wouldn’t play much but they were really good at their craft let’s put it that way and and that was fighting so everybody kind of gets on fighting and i and i understand it because the dangers of it i truly do do now um but how many times have you been in an arena and seen people sitting on their hands when there’s a fight it just doesn’t happen people get very very excited so there was times when you’d be down two or three nothing that somebody may go initiate and and let the other guy know that hey we need to do this and if whether he obliged or not that guy was going to be in a fight so there there’s many different uh formats of how it would occur and and gosh before my time there There were so many tough guys.
It was almost terrifying when you walk in there.

[11:15] Yeah, and you knew. You would be looking at the stats and looking at the penalty minutes and going, okay, this guy.
You didn’t have YouTube back then and could pre-sculpt their fights and see what they did.
I’ll share one story. My first ever pro game, this was an exhibition game.
So I was in Hershey, Pennsylvania.
So I was with Colorado Avalanche Organization, and they had a doubleheader.
So it was the minor league team playing Philadelphia and then it was the NHL team playing after us playing their NHL team. This is kind of the old Hershey park arena.
So this is my first pro game. I remember the coach coming and going, Hey, you know, like.
The Consequences of Picking Up Gloves

[11:52] Make sure you keep your head up this could be a rough game there’s a big rivalry between the philadelphia phantoms and the hershey bears and i’m like all right whatever right and none of the real veterans that were there last year playing just a bunch of young guys and they give us a little bit of a heads up and some of the guys that are playing on the other team and i’m looking at warm-up and i’m going who are these guys like they’re really they’re yeah they’re let’s just say they’re intimidating so the game starts i won’t bore you with the details but in that game there was 33 fights and three line brawls and there was only i think there was only four or five guys left on the bench on each side at the end of the game it took about four and a half hours to play that game they had to delay it because it was just fight after fight oh my gosh 33 yeah the score was four three um i got in two fights had two goals one assist and i was like wow this is gonna be this is my first pro game and i’m thinking this is gonna be a long year the next the next game we played the next night against syracuse there was eight fights so and i wasn’t used to this and junior the western league was a pretty tough league but i was more of a score and i’d done some things so i didn’t really have to do much of that but i found it real quickly that this is going to have to be part of your game a little bit if you’re going to be in this league oh my gosh i didn’t realize there were that many fights in three full team on fights okay so yeah this this was egregious this was way way out of the norm, Okay, so if I’m on the ice with you, Coach, you drop your gloves.
What happens if I pick them up and hand them back to you?

[13:16] That won’t happen. As you’re picking them up, you might be taking punches.

[13:24] Okay, so what happens if once you fall, it fights over, right?
The ref stops it. I’d be laying down. Like you just drop on the ice? I’d just drop in.

[13:31] Yeah. Yeah, well, yeah. They probably pick you back up.
You really don’t want to punch guys when they’re down. And there’s some unwritten rules that you tend to follow. But again, sometimes there’s anger.
They’re truly just, they don’t like each other. And maybe they fought several times. Maybe something dirty happened where they will.
And this is where I feel for the linesmen. Because back then, I mean, they’re jumping on guys trying to hold their arms.
But if they’re still swinging away, I’ve seen linesmen get hit with punches.
The Startling Columbus Blue Jackets Cannon

[13:59] I mean, it’s not a fun job. Oh, so one of the things I want to ask you about is the Columbus Blue Jackets Civil War cannon that they have in the arena.
OK, so every game I’ve been to coach that darn cannon scares me every single time.
Like I jump out of my seat. You’re not alone.
Oh, my God. So listeners, if you’ve never been to a Columbus Blue Jackets game, they and I think 2007 put this civil war replica cannon in one of the corners of the arena and they shoot it off and it is i mean incredibly loud where i know it’s even coming and i’m still jumping every single time so did it still startle you and how do the players feel about that thing going off because it is loud yeah you yeah i mean certainly jarzy the first few times when you’re not ready for it i remember coming in as the visiting team when i was with colorado and kind of just you know it It shocks you.
It’s intense. You feel it.

[14:55] My favorite stories are I used to watch the warm-ups as an assistant coach all the time, and when they made it come on the ice, you know, it would be dark and they wouldn’t be ready for it, and you’d see guys jumping.
And the best is when, you know, Torch took over in Columbus, and I bet you the first four or five home games, He was never ready for it. He’d get on the ice. We’d walk on the bench.
He’d be standing there, and it would go off.
And he’d be like, and Torch, use some choice words. That? Cannon. You know?

[15:24] And I’m like, it’ll get you. And so it got him four or five times straight, I think, his first four. It was pretty funny to watch.
Oh, it’s so long. Is it fun for you to watch the new guys who are not expecting it? Or the visiting team. Yes.
Yeah. You know, you get so used to it. But you forget when new guys come or you watch the visitors, if you’re kind of you’re glaring over the other side or looking and you see them jump and you just you giggle because you’ve all been there a little bit. Yeah.
Coach Brad Larson’s Wake-Up Call

[15:51] OK, coach, can you share the story with Steph of back in 2007 when you were playing for the Atlanta Thrashers in the NHL and you were going through the medical evaluation?
Right. What happened? Because this I mean, this started quite the journey for you. Can you share that story with Steph? How old were you when you went through this?
Oh, gosh. I think I saw 29.
That’d be about right. Yeah, I would have been late 20s. Yeah, so just ordinary physicals, doing that with camp.

[16:22] And first time it’s ever happened. I’ve been a part of since I was 15 with junior teams all the way to 13 years of playing pro.

[16:32] Medicals are very normal. You have ortho. You have dental, of course, right? right? You have all these things that you do.

[16:39] But this is the first time they had a dermatologist there. And it was completely voluntary and random.
So there was a line for ortho. So I saw the dermatologist there and I was like, you know what? Why not?
Nobody’s going to this guy and I might as well get checked out.
So sure enough, he checks me out. And so I go home and go through the day.
And two days later, I get a call from my trainer and he says, I need to talk talk to you get down here right away so I’m like all right what’s going on and he basically said listen the dermatologist called he’s got a major concern on one of the moles that they removed it was right in my upper back so it’s not a place that I would ever see and he’s like you need to see him right away so it was about a three-hour wait before my call so of course all the scenarios were running through head but I went down there after he called he showed me on a chart and you you know, and there was a melanoma, pretty serious one.
And I had surgery right there. He just put me on the, on the table and had surgery right there and cut it out.
And by God’s grace, I was, I was fine after that. It’s, it’s a pretty good scar.
It’s a big Z and they had to go pretty deep.
But I mean, that was by the grace of God, because that never should have happened.
And I certainly wasn’t going to go on my own.
And, you know, who knows, I go on another year. I, you know, I was, there’s different stages and I was teetering right on the borderline of stage stage three, where he’s like, this is where you’re at.
And he’s like, that’s why we’re doing surgery now, not tomorrow.
And I said, okay, you know, whatever you gotta do.

[18:06] So that was, uh, that was pretty big wake up call and.

[18:10] And yeah, that was certainly part of my journey. I’m not in a place of fear or scared of death, of more of just, is that a normal occurrence?
You know, and that kind of set the wheels in motion a little bit in my life.
Fun Fact: Coach Brad Larson’s NHL Draft Experience

[18:26] All right, Steph, I’m going to test you again here. What is your favorite book of all time? Obviously, it’s the Bible, Kevin. Yes. Nailed it.
Very good. This time you didn’t say the book we wrote called You Met Her Where.
But it’s still a really good book. book. That is true. And it would make a great gift for friends or relatives on their birthday or for Christmas.
Friends, you can order your copy of our book titled You Met Her Where at kevinandsteph.com.
And we will make sure to personally sign a copy for you or whoever you want.
And as always, thank you for listening to tell us a good story.

[18:57] Fun facts. All right, coach. For all of our guests, I like to give a list of fun facts to let listeners know what you’ve done, what you’ve accomplished.
And Steph is not aware of any of these. Okay, So you’re going to see her genuine reaction, Coach, to these.
I might be reacting genuinely, too. You never know.
And if I’m wrong on any of these, please correct me. Let me know.
All right, Steph, ready? Yeah. Fun fact number one.
Coach Brad here apparently was drafted twice in the NHL draft.
He was drafted by the Ottawa Senators round three, number 53 overall in the 1995 NHL draft.
And then he was drafted by the Colorado Avalanche in 1997 in round four.
So coach what is the draft experience like as an athlete are you watching tv the whole time is it stressful are you excited do you get ticked off when somebody thinks you’re better than gets drafted ahead of you how’s that experience like it’s different i mean um you know the first time i went to the draft my in 95 and and you know i had an idea of where i could get drafted it could be like first round it could all be slip all the way to third there was less teams back then too so So you’re watching guys go ahead of you.
And of course, when you’re young, you’re like, wow, I was as good as that guy.
I’m better than that. You know, you have no idea. You think you’re much better than you are, probably a very inflated view of yourself.

[20:15] So it’s hard, like, especially the first round is very dragged out and I never went in the first round and then day two starts.
And so obviously getting your name called, it’s a thrill.
My parents were there and it was a big day and you’re part of an organization.
And so how that happened transpires. I got traded.
It was a year and a half later. I was at World Junior. So I was playing for Team Canada.
We had won gold medal and that was an awesome experience. Came back and I got traded to Colorado. Colorado.
So at the end of the season, they flew me into Detroit with my parents and my agent to watch a game because that was a big rivalry. So they did this kind of presentation.
And I left there going, gosh, I don’t think I’m ever going to make this team. They were so good.
And, you know, the Joe Sackix and Peter Forsberg and all these young players that maybe you may or may not have heard of, but they’re Hall of Famers, All-Stars. I just didn’t see it fit.
And I talked with my agent. So we respectfully declined their offer.
And it wasn’t a money thing. It wasn’t there was no animosity I just said I don’t see me playing so I decided to go back and not sign and go back in the draft well okay they left a little caveat with me and said hey listen if you’re available where we think we can get you we will draft you again and I’m like there’s no chance they’re gonna do that right so I didn’t go to that draft I actually was on a trip to Mexico.

[21:29] And I landed called my parents I’m like hey so what happened they’re like well you’re not going to believe it but they redrafted you and I’m going oh my god I didn’t know that it was the same team Yeah, same team. They redrafted me. So it turned out great.
I’m so, so thankful I got to be part of that organization and that team.
But at the time, I’m going, what just happened? I’m thinking, it’s devastating, right? You know, a young guy, you have no idea.
So that’s how it happened.
They used me as an example when guys wouldn’t sign.
I found out later on, if you don’t want to sign, we may draft you again.
You know, we did it with Brad Larson.
And so I was kind of the poster child of, you may not get away free.
That’s wild. But it’s also really cool because it just shows you how much they did want you. You know? So that’s pretty awesome.
Yeah. That’s how I took it, I’m sure. Yeah. They just really, really wanted me. Yeah. Yeah.

[22:22] All right, Steph. Fun fact number two. During his playing career, Brad played for the Hershey Bears, Chicago Wolves, and Portland Pirates in the AHL, which is the minor league for the NHL.
Okay. Before going on to play for both the Avalanche and the Atlanta Thrashers in the NHL.
So, Coach, one of my old bosses at JPMorgan Chase, he played hockey for Ohio State.
And apparently he was like the enforcer for the Ohio State hockey team.
Got kicked out of the Big Ten tournament for a cheap shot on one of the other teams.
But during a conversation with him, he told me, behind the scenes, most hockey players are a little nuts, a little crazy.
So, you played a lot of games in the minor leagues. What’s one of the crazier things you saw and you actually kind of you may have mentioned it earlier with that with that 33 fight Game, but what’s one of the things you saw with the teammate or something behind the scenes coach? Oh Yeah, I think that’s definitely up there because that experience, that shocked me.
I was expecting it to be rough, but not 33 fights in three line brawls rough.
So that was like, wow, what did I get myself into a little bit?

[23:28] I guess one other experience we had was one time we were getting ready to play.
This was in the morning. We’re getting to play and I can’t remember the team. So pardon me on that.
But there was a trade and it was a guy off that team and he brought his bag, walked across the hall, got in there.
Our room and he played that night against his former team really no yeah no joke yeah that was it he brought his suitcase he brought his uh his bag over and he ended up playing that night it was a defenseman playing against the team that he had traveled there with we played against him that night so that was a welcome welcome to the league kid and this guy wow like now you’re playing against all your friends like hey hey bill yeah tim you showed up you showed up that that morning thinking we’re playing the bears and all of a sudden you’re with the bears playing your your team and like gosh i can’t remember who it was or who the team was but uh-huh because yeah he would walk across the ice he would have had all of his old old team’s hockey gear yeah right to get get all his clubs yeah he came over and they gave him all the gear this was a new bag obviously late late morning yeah the whole thing just a strange circumstance that that doesn’t happen often obviously but that was a very strange circumstance that’s crazy all right All right, Steph, according to HockeyDB.com and HockeyReference.com, because I had to double check this stat, Coach Brad here played one game for the Colorado Avalanche during the 1997-98 NHL hockey season.

[24:49] How do you play one game, Coach? You played six minutes, I believe, this game.
They call you up and then after the game, like, hey, thank you for your service.
You can go back now. How does that work?

[25:01] So that was my first NHL game ever. I’ll never forget it.
I was it was an off day in Hershey okay I was actually at the gym there’s a local gym there that we used uh and so I was just having a light workout I get a an announcement over the PA system I if this is back you’re not carrying cell phones around and doing all that right you know I’m aging myself but so hey would Brad Larson come to the front desk and I’m like oh what’s going on I’m thinking something bad right you know did somebody die or so I get on the phone and it’s my head head coach and he’s like, Lars, you just got called up.
I’m like, Whoa, I mean, my heart just dropped. And he’s like, your flight leaves in 90 minutes. You got to hurry.
So, I mean, I raced home, grabbed a couple of suits rate to the rink, off to the airport, luckily made my flight.
So my first game was in San Jose and I had to fly. So you’re going Percy, Pennsylvania, across the country. Yes. All the way to San Jose.
And it was a, I think it was a noon or one o’clock game the next day.
I didn’t care. I mean, I could have played with no sleep. It wouldn’t have mattered.
And so I got there and got dressed. And as I’m, this is great.
So I brought, I wore a suit, of course, to travel in. And then I had a suit with me. This is a brand new suit, a pinstripe suit.
I just bought it in Philly. We had, there’s a King of Pressure Mall.
And so I’d spent a bunch of money on the suit.
Well, in all my excitement, I left it on the plane.

[26:20] And I never recovered that suit, never got it back. I went to the game, played a game, and it was just a one-game thing.
Obviously, you don’t know at the time how it’s going to be, but somebody, I think, became ill or got injured in practice. So that was my first NHL game.
And Mark Crawford was the head coach. I will never forget him putting me on the ice.
There was like two minutes left for up by goal, and I’m going, what am I doing out here right now?
You know, just terrified. But, but I got that first one in, I remember I got to call my parents and go, look, no one can ever take that away from me.
I’ve made it. I played my first NHL game and it took a while to get back, but to see your name and being in the lineup and get an NHL game, that was, you know, that was something that I’ll never forget.
Okay, so when did they tell you then, Coach? All right, hey, thank you for coming to San Jose.
Go ahead and jump on the flight back. Yeah, right after the game.
As soon as the game’s over. Yeah, I was right over. Yeah, it was done.
And hey, your flight leaves tomorrow.
I’m like, I didn’t honestly, I didn’t even care. I was like, I just played a game in the NHL and we won and it was thrilling.
So I’m like, no problem. I was more worried about just brand new suit. I never got to wear.
I actually went back to that same store the next week and bought the same suit. Steph.
Finding Incredible Guests

[27:33] What is one of the most asked questions we get about Tell Us a Good Story?
Do I really get that excited?
Besides that one. Oh, how do we get all these incredible guests? Correct.
And some of our best conversations have been with guests who our listeners have reached out to us and said, you should talk to this person.
To name just a few, Nick Vujicic, Coach Tom Ryan, Carol Matico were all recommendations from our listeners.
So if there’s someone you would like us to interview and think they might be a great fit for Tell Us A Good Story, please let us know at kevinandsteph.com.
You don’t even have to personally know them. True, but do me a favor.
Before you submit their names, please make sure they are still alive.
That has actually happened, and it is super hard for me to find their contact information. But regardless, thank you for listening to Tell Us A Good Story.
Okay, you have mentioned so many amazing moments in your hockey career, from the 33 fights to playing your first NHL hockey game to winning gold with Team Canada.
What’s been your most amazing memory as a hockey player?
It’s hard to narrow it to one. It really is because I was 13 years pro hockey as a player, minors in NHL.
I was 13 years as a coach too. And there’s a lot of.

[28:48] Different moments and obviously different places in your life when you’re in one sport like this is the first year I haven’t been in pro hockey in 26 years so wow six straight years I was in pro hockey and so what we just talked about that first game that was a highlight because coming from you’re a small kid hometown kid in Armstrong British Columbia this tiny place in the middle of nowhere and you actually made it you’re going wow I made it you know and so that was thrilling my first goal ironically was in San Jose years later I hadn’t scored in the first like 50 games this is how bad i was i never scored a goal it took me 52 games i think to score my first inning till i finally scored that was in san jose um so i i was fortunate to play for my country three times wow i i played for team canada under 18 team we won a gold medal uh i was captain of that team so that was a big honor and then the next year won world juniors uh won gold medal then the next year played world juniors again for team canada and i was captain that one won a gold medal So anytime you can play for your country, that was amazing.

[29:48] And, and, and we were spoiled. We, we won all three times. So my memories are great from that experience. Right. So, but that was great.
Um, I would say like my first head coach win in the American league was, was awesome.
Just to, you know, you’re, you’re switching gears and I knew I wanted to retire and I was ready to, uh, actually my last, my last year pro and, and, and, you know, I was diagnosed with testicular cancer, believe it or not.
I didn’t share that with anybody. So we lost in the first round and, and I was still playing.
So we ended up, I went through radiation and surgery, all that stuff.
And then I was ready to retire. I wanted to quit. I was so excited about coaching, but I really wanted to quit.
And I was forced to get the job. So I got Columbus hired me as assistant coach in the minors. And so that was a big moment just being their first time at coach.
And then coming to the NHL.

[30:34] I’ll never forget this moment with Torts and our coaching staff when we beat Tampa Bay in that first round.
In most hockey circles, it wouldn’t be a big deal. You’re like, gosh, it’s round one.
Just get over it. But just the idea that Tampa Bay, they just set records.
They destroyed the league.
We had played them four games in the regular season. I think they outscored us 21-3.

[31:00] We were supposed to get swept and swept bad. it wasn’t the other way around and and we just built momentum every game in that series and and the guys were just galvanized it was awesome to watch and and the real joy was game four in nationwide nobody sat the whole game my dad was at the game he couldn’t see it to watch on the jumbo trunk because he had heart issues and he has to sit and watch he couldn’t stand the whole game but the energy was just and i’ve been to some big games i was in game seven in colorado when we won the stanley cup and and uh ray bork won his first cup that energy was special this was right up there so we we score an empty net goal then another empty net goal so as a coach you can actually enjoy the moment you’re not terrified they’re going to come back i think we’re up by three or four at that point with only two minutes left and to watch the fans to watch the crowd like people were crying people were hugging like it literally felt like we won the stanley cup that’s what it was like so i’ll never forget that moment and and just sitting in in the room with the coaches and torts and and our group sitting there and torts looking over he’s like what did we just do and i’m like i don’t know like we just we couldn’t you’re in the series and it’s intense and we know every game as we win like we can’t let them win because they could get back in the series in a heartbeat right they’re that good and we just never gave them any life and and it was was over and you’re going, wow, did that just happen?

[32:25] You know, so that, that was pretty special. And then getting named to head coach myself, you know, and, um.

[32:32] On a personal level, you know, to climb the mountain twice is how I put it.
You know, I made it as a small kid in the NHL and was fortunate enough to carve a little career and then retired and built it again and was able to get to the top again.
And really, there’s only at that time, it’s only 31 head jobs in the world. Right.
It’s not like there’s 700 jobs as a player. So it even got harder.
And obviously, it never ends how you want it to end. And not many guys do.
But that’s the business. But to get there twice and to do that, those moments are all special to me. I love that.
Okay. So with your dad having a heart issue, please tell me he’s not sitting near that cannon.
Life Lessons and Baptism

[33:12] I warned him. I warned him. Yes. And he knew. So yeah, it’s definitely a risk.
All right. Like he just said, on June 10th, 2021, Coach Larson was named the eighth head coach in Columbus Blue Jackets history. However, after just two seasons, the Blue Jackets made the decision to move on after the regular season ended.
So 26 years, 13 playing, 13 coaching.
End of Playing Career

[33:38] So 2009, 2010 hockey season was coach Brad’s last as a professional hockey player.
He played in 294 games over eight seasons in the NHL.
So during your playing career, coach, you were not known as a man of faith. No.
After after playing, what led you to Christ?
You know, everyone always points to the cancer, to bouts with cancer, and honestly, that wasn’t really it.
I remember sitting in my apartment in Colorado, and this was in the summer, and finally it kind of made the NHL, and you have a nice car, you got some things, you got a little bit of money.
I wasn’t making millions of dollars by any means, I was making bare league minimum, but for a young guy, I didn’t have a family, it’s plenty of money, right?

[34:19] You go home and everyone’s telling you how great you are. But it was like I’m sitting there going, something’s missing.
And I know what it is now. I just didn’t have peace. I didn’t have God in the middle of it.
And so it put me on that journey of just searching.
Okay, well, what is this religion thing? Or what does that look like?
And you start to invite God in. God’s always there. But all of a sudden, he starts to reveal some things.

[34:42] And, you know, I was fortunate enough to meet my wife in Atlanta.
And she was a Christian. And she had a major influence in that.
My last year pro i played with a guy who was a christian and he i remember him standing up and he was like hey hockey ministries will be here every thursday if you guys want to start coming to chapel you can go and i was like yeah i remember i went to one chapel i was terrified because i didn’t understand what they’re talking about and they’re talking about the bible and like you know all these the gospels i had no clue what any of this stuff was so i didn’t go for a week or two and then i went back and i went back and then i went back again so between my wife joe depenta who was my teammate at the point um really helped me in that and then and the journey just kind of i didn’t hit rock bottom i didn’t have anything like tragic i wasn’t you know nothing crazy happened my wife here i remember i believe it was her birthday i remember waking up and and saying like i’m ready i’m ready to give myself to christ and she’s like really are you sure like yeah i’m ready and there was a lot of events in there and again yeah i’m sure so i did that but But then May 22nd, 2011, that’s the date I have in my head. And that’s when I got baptized.
And I had her father baptize me in a pool in Georgia in front of all her family.
And, you know, I cried and was all emotional. And I remember waking up the next day just completely terrified.

[35:56] Going, what have I done? You know, what have I done? You know, I knew what I’d done, but what have you done?
You know, you have this image and this persona. Like you said, I was not a Christian for much of my career.
So you can imagine, you know, my thought process and my goals and values.
And so the scary part was going, okay, how do I associate with my teammates?
How do I tell them? How do I, you know, it was all this stuff.
I remember my wife gifted me a Bible and I’m staring at it going, what do I do with that?
What is that? It was like a giant coaster to me.
So I just put my coffee on it.
But her dad was great. He’s like, you know, read the Gospels.
And I’m like, okay, well, tell me what the Gospels are. You know, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. And then he’s like, well, just start in John.
His best advice, I’ll never forget it, was just get to know Jesus.
He’s like, don’t worry about understanding everything.
Don’t worry about, you know, there’s going to be lots you won’t.
But just get to know who Jesus was.
And so I started coming through John. And that kind of started the journey.
And that journey still goes today. day if you like what you hear please tell someone about us as soon as this episode is over go tell your spouse your closest friend a parent a co-worker or share one of our posts on social media however if you don’t like what you’re hearing please do not don’t tell anyone don’t tell anyone don’t tell anybody just disregard this message don’t worry about it about us yeah go on with your merry day and to get more information about us or our entire catalog of episodes be sure to check us out at kevin and steph.com thank you for listening to tell tell us a good story.

[37:23] All right, Steph, final fun fact. Coach Larson is married to his wife, Hannah. They have two children.
He now coaches his son’s youth hockey team. Yeah.
Okay. So coach, first off, I think you’re the world’s most overqualified youth hockey coach. Overpaid too.

[37:41] But if I’m on the other team, right, this feels a little bit like Mighty Ducks versus the Hawks. Yes. Right.
So how are the other teams coaches? Are they Are they trying to impress you?
Are they going over the top? What? Are they getting your autograph?
Yes. Like, how does that work with the other youth parents with you?
No, it’s certainly not like that. I certainly won’t speak for other coaches and what they’re doing.
But first of all, let’s get it clear. I’m one of the assistant coaches. I am not the head.

[38:08] And he asked me to do it, so we’re doing it together. It’s been a thrill. It’s been amazing.
And, yeah, I just really enjoyed the opportunity to coach my son and be with him every day.

[38:19] And we’ve got to go to tournaments, stuff that you never get to do because you’re so busy, right?

[38:24] Like in the years, I might catch four or five games if I’m lucky, you know.
Coaching Youth Hockey

[38:28] And I’ve been to every game and we’ve been to all the tournaments and and you get this incredible quality time and and you know my wife and my daughter stay back because we have we have a little farm and we got we rescue horses so we have horses and we got dogs and cats so somebody has to be around so they’re doing all the work but it’s just been it’s been awesome I mean people have been very respectful and the kids have been awesome and and I it crazy as it sounds I had never coached that level so I’ve only coached pro hockey so it took me a while to figure out what can we do here because and in our league here we only get half-ice practices too like you only you share the ice right right you get 50 minutes and I’m going what what are our capabilities like what do you actually teach an 11 year old 12 year old why can’t these kids skate backwards yeah the skill is it’s this thing like I it was it’s a whole new world that I’ve been introduced used to and you know i’ve been learning on the fly from my other coaches from the kids so there’s lots to learn here are you strapping on your skates and like oh you have to with the kids not competing all skates are on every practice i enjoy i get that i get to get on the ice and again everyone’s like how do you miss playing i’m like not one bit i mean i was when i left the game i was done i my body had been three or four or five surgeries whatever it was and i and it was enough but just to get on the ice i still love the game and just to you know shoot a puck here year-and-a-half pass, converse with the kids. That part of it I really enjoy.

[39:53] Well, Steph, anything else you want to ask before we let Coach go here?
I would love to ask so many things, but I don’t want to annoy him.
We would respect all of his time here. Yes, yes. Go for it. I’m here.
Do you have anything else, Steph? Did you ever play against Wayne Gretzky?
Oh. I don’t think I ever. I tried. My son was asking because he retired in 99.
And I don’t think I ever got the chance. I was mostly in the minors from 98 to 2001.
2001 so we never crossed paths which uh which is unfortunate because my favorite team growing up was the Oilers Edmonton Oilers I bet but my favorite player ironically was Mark Messier and Wendell Clark but I remember I had that kind of aha moment my first year first full year in the NHL and I was skating around in Madison Square Gardens and I’m stretching at the red line I look over and it’s Mark Messier doing the same stretch and I’m like oh my lord there he is I just it was like he’s like he was I I was actually starstruck I tried to fight him actually to the third period. You did?
Yeah. And he kind of just looked at me and he had me around my throat.
And I’m like, you want to go? And I didn’t really want to, Because I knew I was going to lose, but I’m like, man, what a story if I fought him. And he didn’t even say a word. He just kind of stared at me like, you don’t want any of this?
And that was it. And I’m like, I was kind of thankful he didn’t.
You don’t want this smoke, punk man. No, and I would have got smoked.
I mean, he had a grip on me, and I’m like, wow, he’s got me strong.
But I was like, you want to go? And he’s like, no, kid.

[41:20] I’ve won five Stanley Cups, and you’re some punk trying to make a name.
So I was very thankful he didn’t, actually. does your son feel hey wait i thought we didn’t have any more questions.
Pressure as the Coach’s Son

[41:32] You’re right we got some time so does your son feel pressured being your son oh yeah no i i don’t think so i think he’s he handles it really well and with him i was very intentional not to coach him uh-huh like i i didn’t want him to play hockey because i didn’t he started about four or five years old he really started to i guess connect with the players and And, you know, I’d have him to rink a little bit.
But as far as coaching, like we go on the ice, there was no coaching.
He was that kid when he first joined a team two, three years ago.
He had no clue what to do on the ice. He had no clue drills.
I remember talking to the coach going, listen, I have intentionally not coached him. So he’s raw.
He is raw. But you know what? He’s actually a pretty good little player.

[42:16] But what I love about him, he just enjoys playing. He loves to come to the rink and play.
And, you know, if God pulls him towards that way, that’s fine.
You know, part of me doesn’t even want him to go that route because I know all the hardship that comes with it. Yeah.
I lived it. But then, you know, at the end of the day, that’s not my decision and I’ll support him any way he wants. Yeah.
Journey from High School to Pros

[42:36] We’ll let God kind of make those deciding factors for him. I forget already. Did you go to college?

[42:42] No, no. You went from high school to? Yeah, so a little different back then.
So I got drafted when I was 18, and then I played one more year, and then I turned pro at 19 and started playing in the minors, yeah.
So you went right to the minors. Yep. Can you imagine that schedule, just traveling nonstop?
Yeah. I left home at 15 to pursue hockey. For the juniors? Yeah.
Yeah, I was playing the leagues really.
I was one of the better players younger, obviously, like most guys in the NHL, and kind of outgrew that quickly.
And so there was a junior team, and I went and played junior.
I was about four or five hours from home, lived with a billet family at 15 years old. Yeah, crazy.
Playing against 21-year-olds. Was that a hard decision to make for not only you but your parents?
Well, see, you don’t know any better. As a 15-year-old, I’m like, yeah, let’s do it. Why not?
Why wouldn’t I? you know and but now being a parent my daughter’s 14 i’m like no chance you’re yeah yeah there’s there’s no way i i asked i told my parents like what were you thinking as you walk out the door are you crazy do you understand how messed up i am because of that you know so it’s kind of ironic as you get older and you look at your own kids i’m like no chance there’s no way just knowing what the world’s about and knowing what my values are and and our values as a family it’s totally different now it’s not you know my goal as a kid i want to play in the nhl that was it yeah.
Perspective on Past Achievements

[44:04] That’s not my goal for my son that’s not my goal for my daughter it’s like okay i want you to be grounded in your faith and that’s yeah then whatever you do whatever so hey i was gonna ask you earlier coach where do you keep your gold medals at i gave them to my dad so we got i got three gold medals and three rings and but i gifted them all to my dad years ago that stuff now Now, it doesn’t mean much. It doesn’t matter, right?
No, it doesn’t. And it’s not because they weren’t fun. They were great.
I mean, I would look at them again and probably my son would get a kick out of them, you know, and the rings.
But it’s more about that team coming together and doing it as a group and what they went through and how challenging that is.
Well, Coach, thank you so much for coming on here with us. Tell us a good story.
God bless you, sir. And I’m excited to see just the next steps, right, that God has for you and your family. And we’ll be keeping your family, your wife in our prayers. Absolutely.
Thank you so much. Yeah, no, this is kind of the exciting time is what’s in store. And so we’ll see.
Friends, we want to encourage you to please follow us wherever you listen to this, whether it’s on the Apple Podcast app, iHeartRadio, Spotify, or one of the other platforms. You guys, it’s completely free.
And while you’re there, feel free to give us a rating or a nice review.
Thank you for listening to Tell Us a Good Story.

The post Episode 208: Brad Larsen appeared first on Kevin + Steph.

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