The Philadelphia Flyers have signed 2016 second-round pick Pascal Laberge to an entry-level contract, the team announced Thursday.
Laberge, a six-foot-one-inch, 175 -pound winger, was taken 36th overall, after scoring 23 goals and 68 points in 56 games this season with the Victoriaville Tigres of the QMJHL.
His story, however, goes beyond just putting pen to paper on a new contract.
In a gripping piece for the Players’ Tribune, Laberge detailed the tragic passing of his stepmom after a brief battle with cancer, his father’s prostate cancer diagnosis and his mother’s battle with multiple sclerosis. Below is one excerpt.
Last summer, after we found out about my stepmom’s cancer, I had a terrible training camp. Even at the beginning of the season, I just wasn’t myself. I always tried my best, of course, but it was tough.
Then, one day, my Victoriaville coach, Bruce Richardson, called me into his office for a talk. He said: “Hockey is the best sport in the world, and when you’re at the rink you should only think about hockey. When you get out of the rink, you can think about everything else. But if you perform well on the ice, that’s going to help your family feel better and make them happy.”
So I took that to heart, and I started playing hockey again the way I know I can play. I focused on being a good leader for my team, and doing everything I could to make my family proud.
“I think it’s been a hard year for me but I did what I can. I played good hockey, I think, when I got all clear in my head that my parents are OK. It’s going to be fine,” he told reporters at the draft.
“I’m just proud to be a Flyer now.”