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Kevin Elliott has made a career out of helping people.
Whether he is rehabilitating an injury or lending an ear for someone, the well-respected athletic therapist of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League's Charlottetown Islanders is a familiar face around the Prince Edward Island sporting community.
“I can’t thank you enough for everything you have done for me over the years, whether it was my time with the Charlottetown Islanders or anything I needed in the summer,” former Islanders captain and Bridgeport Sound Tigers defenceman Ryan MacKinnon said in a video message. “You have impacted so many players not only on the ice but their lives off the ice as well.”
The Island sporting community recognized Elliott’s contributions and dedication during the 47th annual Sport P.E.I. Amateur Sport Awards at the Confederation Centre of the Arts in Charlottetown on Wednesday night. Elliott was named the recipient of the Inspiration Award.
“I am really honoured by this award,” said Elliott. "I promise to live up to the (standards) and whatever comes along with it because I am following some incredible footsteps. My brother-in-law Tommy (MacGuigan) won it last year, and there's a guy right there who inspires everyone every day.
"You inspire me every day, too, Tom."
Elliott is currently work-isolating as the Islanders are playing Nova Scotia teams and could not attend the ceremony in person but joined in over Zoom.
The criteria for this award is simple – the recipient needs to inspire.
“You have had an impact on more kids than you will ever realize from your time with the (P.E.I.) Rocket, Islanders and giving your time to Hockey P.E.I.,” former Rocket and Islanders defenceman Ryan Graves, who now plays for the Colorado Avalanche, told Elliott in a video. “Thanks for all you do.
“For me, personally, you’ve had such an impact on me from my time with the Rocket, transforming me from a young kid (and) helping me become a grown man."
Although the spotlight was shining on Elliott, who described himself as a regular guy, he quickly deflected praise and attention to those closest to him.
“The more I thought about it, I got thinking to myself, if you are going to be an inspiration, you have to have people who inspire you,” said Elliott. “I am going to turn this award over to everyone who has inspired me to get to where I am right now.”
He started with his parents, Donnie and Nancy, and “much-older brother Robb.” Their influence has been invaluable.
“If it wasn’t for them giving me ideas about my core values and how to be determined, how to persevere and how to be dedicated to the things I am doing, I would be nowhere right now,” said Elliott, a native of Saint John, N.B.
There have been bumps and challenges along the way. He kept pushing on despite losing three jobs in Ontario. His big break came in 2003 when he joined the Rocket.
“I ended up in Charlottetown, P.E.I., and my life turned around from that point forward,” said Elliott.
Not only professionally but personally as well.
“I will say the two most important people I have met in my life are my lovely wife Carolyn (nee MacGuigan) and my son Matt (Barr), who accepted my award (Wednesday),” said Elliott. “They directed me the right way and I have so much love and admiration for them, and I live every day to be inspired by both of them.
“I am inspired every day by my wife, who has passed away (in March 2019). I try to live every day for her and with her, and I do my best to honour her.”
Did You Know?
- Kevin Elliott is no stranger to the Hockey Canada program.
- This year marked the sixth time he has worked as an athletic therapist with Team Canada at the International Ice Hockey Federation world junior championship.
- The world juniors are held over the Christmas holidays each year.
Elliott extended thanks to his extended families, the MacGuigans, including brother-in-law Danny MacGuigan, and the Kennedys. He also recognized two of his good friends, well-known hockey official Thane Arsenault and Andrew (Spider) MacNeill. He noted his friendship with Arsenault began his second day on P.E.I.
“(Arsenault is) an incredible friend to who I owe a lot of professionalism to, a lot of dedication to, and a lot of everything to,” said Elliott. “From that point, I met probably one of the best friends I will ever have until the day I die, and that is Spider, my equipment manager (with the Islanders).
“I have a lot of time for that young man. I have watched him grow up to become one of the best equipment guys I have had. Beyond that, he’s become one of my best friends. However, I think he’s become a better father and husband than I have ever thought about being.”
New York Islanders forward Ross Johnston played his 20-year-old season with the Islanders. He said in a video that he remembers attending physio sessions with Elliott and the late Ralph Manning that season. Johnston said he will never forget having the opportunity to learn of Elliott’s personal life and the adversity he faced.
“You always had a smile at the rink and a positive attitude,” said Johnston. “Listening to 19- and 20-year-olds who think they have the world by the tail isn’t always easy. Their problems seem pretty minor in the big scheme of things.
“For that and always being there for me, and all the other teammates and so on and so forth I have had, they have only said positive things about you. I can’t thank you enough, and I’m happy to call you a friend.”
- Charlottetown native Lorie Kane received the Award of Honour during the 47th annual Sport P.E.I. Amateur Sport Awards at the Confederation Centre in Charlottetown on Wednesday night. Be sure to look for a story on this award in an upcoming edition of The Guardian.
Jason Simmonds is The Guardian's sports reporter.