Rink dreams

ANGELA MACISAAC -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 6:18 AM ET

Second chances don't always come around for hockey players. Once you're told you aren't good enough, you're pretty much done. Todd Harkins and 67 other hopefuls are getting their second chance on CBC's Bell Making the Cut.

Six of the 68 in camp at Vernon, B.C., will be invited to a training camp for a Canadian NHL team -- if and when there ever is another training camp, of course.

Harkins, a second-round draft pick of the Calgary Flames in 1988, walked away from a minor-league career when his son was diagnosed with a rare genetic disease.

The 35-year-old was profiled on the debut episode of CBC's hockey reality show, which runs Tuesday nights until Dec. 14.

"When I made the NHL, it was a dream come true," he told the CBC cameras during initial tryouts in Vancouver three months ago. "But hockey to me is just a game and you'll give up a game to save your son's life.

"He's coming up on his ninth birthday now and he wants to see his dad play in the NHL."

Harkins, a hockey director at the North Shore Winter Club in Vancouver said he thought he was too out of shape to make the cut.

But he still had the most important intangible.

"I still have the passion, the fire in my belly," he said.

And the scouts like what they saw.

The 68 finallists received phone calls on Canada Day, telling them to show up in Vernon.

Harkins got his call from legendary bench boss Scotty Bowman.

"In spite of the fact you thought you were out of shape, you certainly impressed the scouts and us," Bowman told Harkins, who heard the news via -- what else? -- a Bell Mobility cellphone.

"You made the cut."

So did Matt Hubbauer, another player who stood out among the wannabes.

Hubbauer's career was stopped short when he was being treated for a concussion after a Detroit Red Wings training camp.

The former Regina Pats star was diagnosed with an abnormal growth in his left sinus area.

Now, he gets a second chance.

"I didn't know whether I'd even play again," he said.

"I've realized what doesn't kill you makes you stronger."

Now we watch as Bowman, Florida Panthers GM Mike Keenan and Keenan's director of hockey operations Jack Birch put them through drills in a gruelling training camp.

Six survive with tryout contracts -- only a small step en route to their dream of an NHL career.

And that could happen.

After all, Survivor: Australian Outback runner-up Colby Donaldson was seeking an acting contract.

Now, he's flogging Schick razor blades.


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