From Behind the Bench: GTHL Top Prospects Game, Powered by Under Armour

Erin Riley

Growing up playing minor hockey player, Mike Weaver was just happy to even be considered talented enough for an all-star type game. Now a retired NHL player with 644 NHL games under his belt, Weaver finds joy in meeting the next generation of elite talent.

“Last year [at the GTHL Top Prospects Game] I loved the look on these young players faces when we entered the room,” said Weaver, who will be stepping behind the bench for a second consecutive year at the 2018 GTHL Top Prospects Game. “It really brings me back to my childhood when the NHL was a goal I set for myself.”

The thrill players feel participating in the game is often mirrored behind the bench. With over 75 GTHL Top Prospects alumni drafted into the NHL, Dr. Johanna Carlo – a trainer in four GTHL Top Prospects games, including the inaugural game in 2010 – recalls the excitement she feels following the careers of players she interacted with over the years.

“Looking back, players such as Connor McDavid, Max Domi, and Darnell Nurse, to name just a few, displayed skills and character in the Top Prospects Game that they continue to use today as stars in the NHL,” explained Carlo. “Players participating in the game always came prepared to compete with high intensity. It was great to see so many of them seize the moment.”

Like Carlo, former Top Prospects coach Mark Filippone has taken joy in seeing players succeed.

“The talent level was great to work with, most of the players were OHL draft picks, and was exciting to see them progress to the OHL and NHL,” said Filippone, who coached alongside Toronto Maple Leafs alumni Wendel Clark. “It was a great experience to coach with a former NHL player. He was great to the kids and passed along a lot of info from his years of playing.”

Having experienced hockey at the highest level, Weaver emulates Clark’s approach when it comes to taking on the role as a celebrity coach, offering advice whenever he can.

“At the end of the day, just have fun while you’re on this journey.”

The 2018 GTHL Top Prospects Game, Powered by Under Armour takes place on December 11 at Scotiabank Pond. Click here for more information.

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