From Grand Prix to Secret Santa

RYAN PYETTE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:29 PM ET

QUEBEC CITY - Cassie Hodgins has been busy running around this week serving as the venue co-ordinator for the International Skating Union's Grand Prix final in Quebec City.

What she must do after the figure skating event ends might prove even more difficult – buy a Christmas present for Washington Capitals head coach Dale Hunter.

“I have no idea what to get him,” the 26-year-old London, Ont., native said with a laugh. “I've been here (since last Saturday) and haven't been able to do any shopping yet.”

Hodgins' aunt Cindy is Hunter's girlfriend. She remains in London, where she looks after two players from the OHL's London Knights – twin forwards Matt and Ryan Rupert.

The family does an annual Secret Santa gift exchange, and this year, Hodgins drew Dale's name. She knows the infamous story about Hunter owning only one suit for his duties behind the bench, but doesn't think she'll put a new one under his tree.

“We don't talk about hockey too much,” she said, “but my dad (Don) is crazy into it. He corners (Dale) on the couch and that's all they talk about. I live in Ottawa (where she works for Skate Canada) and he asked me, 'Did you get to watch Dale's game against the Senators (a 5-3 win on Wednesday) and I had to tell him, 'Dad, I'm in Quebec for skating.'

“He knows more about the Capitals' schedule than mine.”

Hodgins didn't fall into the skating world by accident.

She trained growing up in Ilderton, Ont. – mostly in sychronized skating – at the same time as Canadian Olympic ice dance champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir.

“I saw my old coach and gave her a big hug this week,” she said with a grin.

Her coach was Alma Moir, Scott's mother.

And what does a venue co-ordinator do at a skating event?

Well, anything and everything from overseeing the installing of the big TV screens above centre ice to shuttle buses to checking sponsorship sign damage after a skater – say Patrick Chan – slams into one.

“The rink boards, that's me, too,” she said.

ryan.pyette@sunmedia.ca

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