(Quinton Amundson | HOCKEY CANADA)
He once hid inside of a dryer to prank a colleague taking out a clean load of laundry.
He routinely unleashes sarcastic jokes and witty one-liners that put his audience in stitches.
Infusing the work environment with comedy – when appropriate – is very important to Kevin Elliott, one of Hockey Canada’s go-to athletic therapists over the past decade.
He considers his sense of humour as one of three character traits essential to his success in this line of work.
Demonstrating a caring spirit is the second attribute.
“When you are dealing with young men you have to have that sense of caring and a little bit of love for everybody,” says Elliott. “You have to be able to share that with people.”
Exhibiting a professional attitude is the third key to success. A high level of diligence and expertise have merited Elliott opportunities to work with the Ontario Hockey League’s Sarnia Sting (2000-01) and Mississauga IceDogs (2002-03), the NHL’s Florida Panthers (2007-08) and the University of Prince Edward Island Panthers (2008-09). His most precious association over his career has been with the P.E.I. Rocket/Charlottetown Islanders organization (2003-07, 2009-present).
Elliott was offered his first Hockey Canada assignment in 2007. He enthusiastically accepted the invitation to work with Canada’s National Men’s Summer Under-18 Team, but he ultimately had to walk away from the opportunity because the NHL came calling.
The stars finally aligned for Elliott to partner with the national organization as an assistant athletic therapist for Canada’s National Junior Team at the 2010 IIHF World Junior Championship in Saskatchewan. Ever since, he has been racking up opportunities to work more World Juniors as well as the IIHF World Championship, IIHF U18 World Championship and Spengler Cup.
Elliott has also served as a mentor for other trainers and therapists at Canada’s national under-17 development camp for the past six years. Mark Packwood, the head trainer and physiotherapist for the Windsor Spitfires who is sharing the bench with Elliott at the 2019 Hlinka Gretzky Cup, says he has enjoyed experiencing Elliott’s wit up close and witnessing the habits of a master.
“He has so much experience for really telling you about these small details that can make your life a lot easier,” says Packwood. “He’s also great at bringing up things that things you don’t think you need to know or need to be ahead of the game at, he knows.
“He is obviously a good therapist. He wouldn’t be here if he weren’t a good therapist, but I think it is the other intangibles that he brings to the table is what sets him apart.
Packwood says one of the biggest takeaways from a clinical standpoint this summer is how Elliott likes to diversify the warm-up and cool-down exercises so that he keeps the process fun for the players.
Elliott cherishes every event he works, but the 2017 World Juniors in Toronto and Montreal bears special significance.
His wife Carolyn, who passed away in March, shared in the experience with him.
“That was the only event she ever went to, so just seeing her there for the first game trumps everything – gold medals and travels,” says Elliott.
Just like all his previous Hockey Canada experiences, working development and selection camps and heading overseas this summer has brought Elliott a lot of joy. He views Hockey Canada “as a family.”
“The friendships have blossomed. You can’t wait to see people every time you come. You hug them and see how things are going. They are so supportive in what you do and everything you need.
“Hockey Canada is family, and it’s given me some of the best times of my life.”