SUMMERSIDE – John Blanchard is no different than the players he takes care of.
The head trainer and equipment manager for the Summerside D. Alex MacDonald Ford Western Capitals has goals to move his career forward.
“You always want to advance,” said Blanchard in an interview in his office and therapy room at Credit Union Place. “The NHL would be the ultimate goal, but you have to start somewhere.”
Blanchard has been named one of the athletic therapists and head equipment manager for the MHL’s (Maritime Junior Hockey League) Team Eastlink North for the Eastern Canada Cup All-Star Challenge in Quinte West, Ont. , from Nov. 19 to 21.
“It’s a great opportunity,” said Blanchard, who’s from Summerside. “It’s going to be very rewarding, and it’s going to be a development opportunity.
“There will be lots of other trainers there. When you go to these types of tournaments you get to see how they do things, and they pick up on stuff you are doing.”
Deserving of opportunity
Capitals head coach Billy McGuigan is also head coach of Team North, and offered Blanchard this opportunity.
“Obviously, (support staff members) have to be someone within the league,” explained McGuigan. “John is as good, or better, than anyone in the league. He’s a pro-calibre trainer, and we are lucky to have him here.
“It was one phone call to me, and I walked into his office and said, ‘Do you want to go to the Eastern Canada Cup?’
“We chatted about it, and obviously he was my first choice for sure.”
Number of factors
Blanchard understands a number of factors will come into play when it comes to advancing to higher levels, including some good old-fashioned luck.
“Once you get noticed, you have a good chance (to get to a higher level),” said Blanchard. “Going to these events, that’s how you get noticed.”
Blanchard looks after the Caps’ day-to-day operations for equipment and medical requirements.
“I am here for practices, I set up for practices, I look after the equipment and look after any injuries,” he said. “It’s the same thing on game day, whether we are on the road or at home.”
Blanchard’s work does not unnoticed by the players.
“He has everything ready you can think of, and makes sure everyone is healthy,” said Caps centre Austin Taylor.
Respect of players
Taylor said the players respect Blanchard because of the way he treats them.
“He’s a great guy to get along with,” said Taylor. “He’s always joking around, having fun with the guys and making us all feel a part of the team.”
Blanchard works closely with Colby Profitt, who he describes as “my right-hand man.”
“Colby is another guy in the dressing room who is a backbone of our hockey club,” said McGuigan. “He takes care of the details for John.”
McGuigan said Blanchard’s role extends far beyond taping an ankle and fixing equipment.
“Trainers are essential in any level of hockey,” emphasized McGuigan. “John does everything and all things for us.”
One behind-the-scenes role that trainers play is being a go-between between the players and coaches.
“John’s a guy the players can go to with any kind of issues, on or off the ice,” said McGuigan. “You see some days in the therapy room, when he is doing therapy, there are four or five guys sitting around chatting.
“(Trainers and equipment staff) are the backbone of your hockey club. . . Without good trainers you can’t have good programs, and without good programs you fall behind. John and Colby have been awesome here.”
A look at John Blanchard:
A certified Level 3 trainer through Hockey Development Canada.
In third season as Summerside Western Capitals head trainer and equipment manager.
Has worked with Hockey P.E.I. high-performance teams the last three years. Is head trainer fir Hockey P.E.I.’s under-14, under-15 male Program of Excellence teams, along with P.E.I. entry that participates in Quebec Major Junior Hockey League Gatorade Challenge each spring.
Attended Hockey Canada’s under-17 male identification camp last summer.
Will attend the 2019 Canada Winter Games with P.E.I.’s male hockey team.