Lahey illustrates value of a good laugh

BARRE CAMPBELL -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 10:18 AM ET

Matt Lahey has proven a few things in the early portion of his second season with the 67's.

One is that he's no budding Picasso, as the illustration accompanying this story shows in crystal clear detail.

But he's also shown a sense of humour -- which explains the story that inspired Lahey's artwork earlier in the season.

According to Lahey, it goes like this.

One day before practice, Brian Kilrea teased Lahey that he must spend most of his time at high school using crayons in colouring books.

"I went to school the next day and drew him the picture," says Lahey, whose masterpiece caused an uproar in the 67's dressing room before Kilrea had seen it. "Everybody thought it was pretty funny, but nobody knew how Killer was going to react."

When Lahey later handed him the drawing, Kilrea burst into laughter and hung it up.

"Once you get to know him, you realize he likes to joke around, just like a lot of us," Lahey says of his coach. "He still yells at you on the ice, but you know deep down that he's a good guy who likes to laugh about things."

That sense of humour helped Lahey get through a disastrous rookie season.

The club's first-round pick in the 2004 OHL draft, Lahey entered the league as a 15-year-old, born on Dec. 28, 1988 in Oshawa to parents Brian and Brenda. Had he been born four days later, Lahey wouldn't have been eligible for the draft until 2005.

"The late birthdate hasn't really hurt me over the years," says Lahey, who doesn't turn 17 until late next month.

Theoretically, he could spend six seasons with Ottawa's major junior club if he stuck around for an extra overage season.

'A BIG KID'

"I've always been a big kid and haven't felt out of place, even though some of the kids were almost a year older than me right through minor hockey," he says.

The 67's used Lahey sparingly in the first half of last season. He scored his first OHL goal in October against Belleville and things were going as expected.

But his season ended abruptly when he took an open-ice hit and suffered a concussion in a game against St. Michael's last January.

Then, a week before the 67's headed for London and the Memorial Cup, Lahey learned his left knee would require surgery to correct Osgood-Schlatter disease, a condition that affects knee tendons and is most commonly found in athletic teens.

"It was just another bad thing that had to be added to the list," says Lahey. "It was getting so frustrating and so aggravating, and it was hard to deal with."

Lahey underwent the surgery in Toronto in early June by Dr. Darrell Ogilvie-Harris and was required to stay off the ice through the summer and into the fall.

When he returned to the ice earlier this month, Lahey made the most of his situation, recording at least one point in each of his first seven games. With Friday's two-goal effort against Oshawa, he has eight goals and three assists in 10 games since his return.

"He's made a difference getting back in our lineup," says Kilrea.

BRIGHT FUTURE

Lahey says it's good to be back and part of a club where the future looks bright.

"If this team stays together and we pull together, I think in two years we can take the Memorial Cup," he says. "I'm not talking about getting there, I'm talking about winning it."

IN THE CREASE: In a showdown between the CJHL's divisional leaders, the Pembroke Lumber Kings, ranked No. 3 in the most recent national Jr. A rankings, downed the defending champion Hawkesbury Hawks 6-1 on Friday ... Goalie Jody O'Neill made 44 saves for Smiths Falls, but the Bears fell 4-1 to Nepean on Friday. O'Neill's OHL rights were acquired by the 67's last week in a trade with the London Knights for defenceman David Jarram.

barre.campbell@ott.sunpub.com


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