Tonight marks a special milestone in the game of hockey and it’s not for a coach or player.
Kevin Elliott, athletic therapist for the Charlottetown Islanders, will be participating in his 1,000th career game in hockey as athletic therapist when the Charlottetown Islanders host the Sherbrooke Phoenix at 7 p.m. AST.
Although not one for the limelight, Elliott said it is an honour and a pleasure to be recognized for this achievement.
“It’s an accomplishment that has taken a lot of people, including myself, to get there. So many people along way it’s really hard to say thank you to everybody.”
From a professional note it’s awesome, said Elliott.
“From a personal note, it’s even more impressive because I get to share it with so many unbelievable, great people.”
Elliott wasn’t always working in hockey. Prior to working in hockey, Elliott was a minor league trainer in the Toronto Blue Jays organization form 1997 to 2000-ish. Elliott himself couldn’t really remember how long. He got to work pro-ball which he described was awesome.
He worked with some big names such as Vernon Wells, Mike Young and Cesar Izturis.
The journey into hockey began for Elliott when he left the Blue Jays in the early 2000’s.
While living in Orangeville, Ont., he contacted a good friend of his, Jeff Perry, who was the head coach of the OHL’s Sarnia Sting at the time, and told him he was done with the Blue Jays and was wondering if there were any openings. Elliott was then hired on as an “equipment guy and medical guy combined” for the Sarnia Sting for the 2000-2001 season.
“I was absolutely green going in,” said Elliott. “I had no idea about the junior ranks.”
Elliott was later let go at the end of the season due to changes in the Sting’s organization.
“I was like ‘Great! Super! Now what? I just got fired from my first job!” said Elliott.
After some more phone calls he found out the (then-named) Mississauga IceDogs were hiring. He had two interviews and after the third he was given the job. Elliott worked the 2002-2003 season with the IceDogs before being let go again.
At that point Elliott said he had nowhere to go.
Elliott had some interviews in Ontario before going back home to Saint John, N.B., to visit his folks and that is when he heard about an opening on Prince Edward Island. The Rocket was moving from Montreal to Charlottetown for the 2003-2004 QMJHL season. He made the trip over to Charlottetown for an interview with Serge Savard Jr., Alain Vigneault and Gary Connelly and was given the job before getting back over the bridge.
He was given a task of hiring his own team and that’s when he hired Andrew ‘Spider’ MacNeill.
“We’ve been husband and wife ever since,” joked Elliott.
Elliott and Spider go way back, said Elliott.
“We’re good friends. To be involved and share my 1,000th game with him is going to be a special night.”
Elliott worked with the Rocket from the 2003-2004 season until the 2006-2007 season before joining the NHL’s Florida Panthers as an assistant athletic trainer. Elliott came back to P.E.I. for personal reasons and worked with the U.P.E.I. Panthers during the 2008-2009 season as their head athletic trainer.
Elliott was back with the Rocket for the 2009-2010 season and has been with the organization since then.
It still feels like yesterday, he said.
“I still remember my first day in Sarnia. We were playing the London Knights and there might have been 500 minutes in penalties. It was an exhibition game. It was ridiculous. It was an unbelievable experience.”
The milestone was no surprise to Elliot himself, as he knew it was coming up. Staying humble about it, Elliott thinks tonight shouldn’t be about his 1,000th game.
“It should be about our team and how well we’re doing this year. We got a great group of kids and moving forward as an organization and everything is positive.”
Elliott’s achievement will also be honoured at the 2017 Professional Hockey Athletic Trainers Society and the Society of Professional Hockey Equipment Mangers Annual Meeting in Phoenix, Ariz.