Sports are a snap

JIM BENDER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:47 AM ET

Mike Mahoney sometimes wonders what might have been.

The Winnipeg long-snapper replaced arguably the best in the business, Chris Cvetkovic (dislocated elbow), quite adequately against Montreal least week.

"The first one under the belt was the same as the last couple of years, I guess," the former Saskatchewan Roughrider said with a shrug.

But instead of making his living in an upside down world, Mahoney might be doing it on the ice right now. Like most red-blooded Canuck kids, the Regina native grew up with a hockey stick and skates. Unlike most other Canadians, his father, Ross, was an NHL scout and is currently the head scout for the Washington Capitals.

In fact, Mahoney approached the NHL hopefuls who work out at Canad Inns Stadium during Blue Bomber practices to see if his dad had drafted any of them.

"He drafted Eric Fehr and he's from Winkler, I heard, but he wasn't out there running with them," he said.

Ross Mahoney was a part-time scout for the Vancouver Canucks for about 10 years, then became a full-time scout for the Buffalo Sabres for about three years and has been with Washington the last nine.

"I remember coming to (NHL) playoff games (against the Jets) here when he was scouting for Vancouver," Mahoney recalled fondly. "I remember coming to watch in the sea of white in the old arena. I think it was '91. Pat Quinn was the coach at the time and for a little, bright-eyed kid, it was pretty neat. He let me ride the team bus with all the players, which was pretty cool.

"And they would have a neutral-site game in Saskatoon. I would go there and be the stick boy or the towel boy. And we'd go to Calgary once in a while to watch a game ... It was a pretty good experience growing up and getting to be around a professional dressing room. It was pretty cool."

His best memories are of meeting Vancouver tough guy Gino Odjick in a Winnipeg hotel room and hanging out with Vancouver goalie Kirk McLean in a Saskatoon dressing room for goalies.

"(Odjick) was a pretty cool dude to talk to," said Mahoney, who was not intimidated by him.

"He was a good guy. He was tough as hell. He could throw 'em. He could toss that right hand but, off the ice, he was a gentleman."

Mahoney, now 6-foot-3 and 230 pounds, was a stay-at-home defenceman who only fought when needed and was once listed by the WHA's Spokane Chiefs when Mike Babcock was the coach. But he could not attend their training camp because he was playing in a pre-season football tournament.

"I came to a point in Grade 9 or 10 where I had to make a decision one way or another and I decided to go the football route," said Mahoney, 26. "(Dad) was very supportive. He said, 'Do what's in your heart, do what you want to do and choose the path that you want to take.' "Sometimes, I look back and wonder whether I could have played hockey or should have played hockey ... But I made my decision and I guess I'm pretty happy with the way things have turned out."

Mahoney was also a competitive baseball player (catcher/first base/DH) who played for Team Saskatchewan at the 2001 Canada Games. He was told that the Northern League's Winnipeg Goldeyes have been caught short of batters several times this season.


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