Coffey talks hockey and farming at conference
Paul Coffey signs autographs after speaking at the BASF Knowledge Harvest conference at the Camrose Regional Exhibition in Camrose on March 7. Josh Aldrich/ Camrose Canadian
Paul Coffey is known more for expertise in putting pucks in the net as opposed to crops in the ground, but he says there are some distinct similarities to the process.
The Hockey Hall of Fame defenceman was the key note speaker at the BASF Knowledge Harvest conference at the Camrose Regional Exhibition on March 7, and delivered his speech while more than 400 producers had breakfast.
“The similarities between farming and hockey are pretty close: You have to work in a team environment, you’ve got to work through a lot of adversity, and you’ve got to take the good with the bad,” said Coffey.
The conference focuses on educating farmers about what their crops and how to sell them to the public. It is an increasingly important part of the agriculture industry with access to information at an all-time high for consumers.
“There’s a lot of pressure on the food we eat now about pesticide use and all of those different that are starting to claim pesticide free. To give (producers) some of the tools to talk about why they use the certain products they use, the benefits that they bring and also things like resistant management and high quality production,” said BASF technical marketing manager Russel Trischuk. “Twenty years ago people just went to the grocery store and bought what was on the shelf. Now, and rightly so, they are starting to question what is in their food and how it’s being produced.”
Marketing is an even more integral part of the industry now with the declining number of people involved in the agriculture industry and the growing lack of knowledge among the urban population when it comes to food production.
The conference had four stops across Western Canada, wrapping up in Swift Current on March 9. This was the fourth year for the conference which has made different stops every year. The Camrose stop was the biggest of the tour.
It was also an educational opportunity for Coffey who grew up in Toronto and is new to agriculture industry. He was able to sit in on the conference discussions while also able to do a little touring around at some of their stops.
“We’re flying into Regina (Wednesday) and we’re going to a colony and we’re going to see how the Hutterites (farm). It’s going to be great,” he said.
“Just talking to people, they’re hard working guys and they pride they have is incredible and they’re feeding us.”
Coffey entertained the crowd, however, with stories from his hockey career.
The four-time Stanley Cup champion and three-time Norris Trophy recipient as the NHL’s top defenceman, played for 20 years and is the highest scoring defenceman in league history with 1,531 points in 1,409 games. He also had the privilege of playing with two of the best players in the history of the game — Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux.
The game is entering a similar situation with an influx of young talent that has not been seen in a generation, headlined by two budding superstars in Connor McDavid and Austin Matthews.
“It’s like having two kids, which one do you love the most?” said Coffey, who now owns a car dealership and a car wash back in Southern Ontario while coaching minor hockey. “They’re the same but different. Matthews is a bigger kid, but McDavid is special. The only thing you’d want to do if those two were one and two in the draft is to pick second, because then you can’t make a mistake.”
He also lived the Battle of Alberta during the height of its intensity. Despite the potential for the rivalry to heat up again now that both teams are competitive again at the same time for the first time in a couple of decades, he says they will be hard pressed to match the 80s fire and passion.
“It’s not the same, nobody hits anymore nobody fights,” said Coffey. “I watched Calgary play in the second last game in Northlands last year, and Calgary came in and beat Edmonton 5-0. That would never happen at home without a brawl.”