Chris Page had it coming to him.
There was no way the 24-year-old former Concordia Stinger men’s hockey team forward could have expected to get away with his long list of accomplishments this past season without getting noticed by a larger market.
For those unaware of what was one of the most memorable seasons by any Concordia player in recent history, here are the numbers.
Page racked up 25 goals, making him the first Stinger to accomplish the feat since 1989.
That helped him finish with 42 points in 24 games, which lifted him to second overall in the Ontario University Association standings and seventh in the CIS.
Page did all of this while playing for a Concordia team that finished the season ranked in last place in their division.
It was a huge disappointment considering all the optimism that had surrounded the team at the start of the season before it ran into an overwhelming rash of injuries to several key players.
Page, however, was one of the few positive constants. And he would be duly rewarded.
Although the Stingers season came to an end back in the middle of February for Page the best hockey still to be played.
It all started with a phone call to Stinger coach Kevin Figsby from the head coach of the Missouri River Otters of the UHL, regarding the status of Page.
The next step was getting star forward’s take on the situation. “Chris and I sat down and had a two-hour chat,” explains Figsby. “I just wanted to be sure that’s what Chris wanted to do and that he had no intention of coming back next year.”
This was Page’s last year as a student at Concordia and a return would have meant coming back as a graduate student.
In fact, the only concern held by Page and his family was that he would be able to successfully complete his degree as a history major.
Fortunately for Page, his professors offered nothing, but support and he had little difficulty having his final exams deferred.
“I’m thankful and grateful to my teachers for everything they did for me,” Page explained in a telephone interview from Missouri earlier this week.
The always-humble Page was also quick to express his gratitude towards his teammates and coach.
“I really want to thank all the guys on the team, especially my linemates (Luc) Messier and (Patrick) Roy. Without those guys I could have never made it. Also Kevin really helped me out a lot over the last three years and he was a really good coach.”
Not only was Figsby an instrumental factor in getting his player to a level where American teams would be trying to recruit him ,but he also played a big role in helping get the deal done.
“I negotiated Chris’s contract over the phone with him sitting in the room with me,” Figsby said.
“It was fun to see his reaction during the process of discussing his salary. I’ll just say he did very well.”
And as for Page’s version of the negotiation.
“Kevin did a lot of work. It was very exciting, my first pro-contract,” Page explained. “They have a base salary that they usually pay to rookies. I got a bit higher that that.”
With the deal done and his academic calendar sorted out Page was on his way to Missouri.
It wouldn’t take long for him to make his presence known.
In just his second game, Page played a crucial role in his team’s 5-4 win where he racked up a goal and two assists in regulation and then netted the winner in a shootout.
Then last Wednesday, he got do something he didn’t have the chance to in his last two years at Concordia: he suited up for a playoff game.
It was especially fitting that on that same night, Page was also honuored as male athlete of the year at the Concordia Athletic Awards Banquet where Captain Pat Roy accepted the award on his behalf and read a speech written by Page beforehand.
It would be nice to say that the local boy is currently on his way to helping carry his current team deeper into the post-season. Unfortunately, the River Otters were swept in three games, the final one taking place on Saturday.
“It was too bad, but I’ve had a lot of fun. Now I’ve got to find a plane ticket back home for sometime next week,” Page explained, as he has had to continue to prepare for his final exams.
“Everybody is going out golfing every day but I have to stay inside and keep up with my school work.”
While Page will be back on Concordia soil soon enough and looking for a part-time job for the summer, he is still uncertain of what next season will bring.
“I’d really like to come back, but it’s the coach’s decision and I’ll be talking with him. All I know is what I have to do if I want to stay here and that’s doing a lot of working out and getting in shape.”
Chris Page’s hockey future might not be written stone but it is refreshing to know that as much as he loves the game he isn’t relying on it to carry him through the rest of his life.
“I really love hockey but I want to finish my education and be a teacher later.”
So if anyone happens to pass Chris in the Concordia weight room this summer, shake his hand and congratulate him on a job well-done, he’s earned it not only with his great on-ice play but also for his commitment off the ice.