Ron Low looks more than comfortable in a southside restaurant minutes after he enjoyed breakfast.
His right leg sits on the padded bench as he tells stories about growing up in small-town Manitoba, playing junior hockey, making the National Hockey League, coaching the Edmonton Oilers and then being part of the big lights of New York when he coached the Rangers for two seasons.
Low credits one important foundation for helping him to get through all the success he has earned.
The secret is a good home environment, whether it be in the family farmhouse or his billet’s house developing a taste of elk meat while paying his dues in junior hockey, and now his home in Edmonton.
“Still is the best time of the day, after dinner, when (wife) Linda and our two daughters sit around the table,” Low said. “A good home environment means so much.”
That mantra and deep-rooted philosophy is a huge reason why Low and his wife are supporting Hockey Helps the Homeless, a two-day event starting May 11. Funds from the event — to be iced at the Terwillegar Recreation Centre — will be injected into the Mustard Seed and the Jasper Place Wellness Centre.
“We are friends with (former Edmonton mayor) Stephen Mandel and he was really trying to do something about homelessness in Edmonton, so we decided we wanted to help.”
Hockey Helps the Homeless brings former players who had NHL careers together with fans of the game who still play. Many of them — Dean McAmmond, Chris Joseph, Kelly Buchberger and Scott Thornton — played for Low in the 1990s as Edmonton Oilers.
“You know, we’re so lucky. Guys who played here always come back and want to do something for the community,” said Low.
So, that begs the question of Low, the former goaltender: are you going to, once again, buckle up the tools of torture?
“Are you kiddin’ me?” he rebounded back in typical Ronnie Low fashion.
“I haven’t had the pads on since 1989, and it hurt every muscle in my body. And I’m sure not going to do it now.”
Instead, Low will be in a very familiar position: coaching one of the teams.
“Sure, everybody has fun,” said Low. “But when you’re down a goal in a fun game, the competitive spirit takes over … you can’t help but want to get even.”
Hockey Helps the Homeless started in Toronto. This is the fifth year it has been in Edmonton.
Things get started with a reception May 10 is at The Rec Room in South Common. Hockey action takes place with games with three periods of straight time the next day.
“When they walk into their dressing room, with their jersey hanging up … it looks like an NHL dressing room,” Low said.
“I think that’s pretty cool.”
The event is looking for volunteers. It is a great opportunity for young hockey players to help out with dressing room details and to get a chance to meet NHL greats up close and personal. (For more information, visit here
And if I know Ronnie Low like I do, he’ll make sure everyone will get home.
That’s so important to him.