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March 15, 2013 - Image 8

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8 - Friday, March 15, 2013

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

SPITTING IMAGE
From Page 10
back and pill out two ministicks and two shoes
in the corner of each side. We'd play for 20 minutes
and then go right back up and watch the second or
third period."
Mike wasn't far enough along in his own hockey
career to take away game strategy or skating tech-
nique from his time spent with his dad or the other
players. But the off-ice demeanor and way the
NHLers carried themselves away from the game
weren't lost on him.
"What I reallytook awayfromthemwas thetype
of people they are away from the rink," Mike said.
"They're such humble and down-to-earth gentle-
men. They all put their families first (and) know
that hockey's just a little portion of their life."
Though the Chiasson family placed itself in
numerous social circles within the community,
there was little question that the Hurricanes
had created their own close-knit little pocket in

officially been retired, but it has been taken out of
circulation.
Mike still wears No. 3, though. He always has.
In fact, he's worn it for everything, from hockey to
soccer. He got lucky when he came to Michigan in
the fall of 2011 - Scooter Vaughan had just gradu-
ated that May, leaving the No. 3 jersey available for
the taking.
From the jersey number to the mannerisms,
so much of Mike just screams Steve. When Fran-
cis has seen Mike play for Michigan, at times he
swears he's watching his old teammate - with
Mike's features covered by a facemask, there's no
easy way to distinguish him from Steve.
Sometimes, even Susan can't tell the difference.
"She says she'll just look, and it gets kind of
scary because the (resemblances) are starting to
become more and more prevalent," Mike said. "She
met him at this age so she's starting to see some
similarities now (with) hand gestures or the way
we word things."
Now that he's older, Mike's able to appreciate
some of the finer aspects of Steve's game, such as
the way he manned the power play or the force
with which he shot the puck. Mike says sometimes,
he notices how he channels his dad when he plays
- he likes to "take care of (his) own end first and
make a good first pass."
At 205 pounds, Steve was slightly bigger than
his son is now - Mike jokes that he wasn't lucky
enough to get those genes.
"I think my dad was a more physical and offen-
sive defenseman," Mike said. "He played the game
hard and played the game honest. He played the
game the way it was played back then, and obvi-
ously the game's changed a little bit now."
here were two funerals for Steve. One
was in Raleigh, the one that most of the
Carolina Hurricanes attended.
The other was in Peterborough, Ont., where
Steve and Susan were from and where the family
still owns a cottage. There's a memorial for Steve
in a local park.
More of the Canadian hockey players that Steve
played with or knew attended the service in Peter-
borough - including Wayne Gretzky, who played
with Steve on the 1993 All-Star team.
"I just remember he came in, talked to me and
my brother, pulled us aside," Mike said. "I don't
really remember much of the conversation. He
brought us out to his car and gave us a couple of
signed sticks and a jersey. We still have that at
home."

Sobotka has been the buildings operation man-
ager for the Red Wings for the last 30 years. He
drives the Zamboni during the intermissions and
picks octopi off the ice during the playoffs. Though
Mike's interactions with the Red Wings were brief,
Sobotka still remembers him - there's always time
for a friendly chat after Michigan finishes its pre-
game skate.
"I guess you could say I continue the relation-
ship my dad had with them," Mike said. "Hockey's
a small world, and they really are genuinely nice
people. My life did come full circle."
t was Dec. 14, 2012. Michigan had just
dropped a 4-1 decision to Western Michigan
in its final home series before winter break. Holden
was outside Yost Ice Arena next to CBS' production
truck, chatting with long-time Michigan hockey
announcer Al Randall.
From 100 feet away, Holden saw Mike emerge
from Yost. He gave a wave, a friendly gesture to
a player he'd only interacted with a couple times
before, before returning to his conversation with
Randall.
But instead of going home, Mike turned to walk
down the parking lot, shake Holden's hand, smile
and say, "Hey Ben, how are you?"
Here Mike was, with his team coming off an
embarrassing loss, and he took a few moments
to chat with a sports announcer he barely knew.
Holden was flabbergasted.
But he was also impressed. So the next night,
while doing his commentary, Holden made sure to
give a shoutout to Mike's mom Susan, watching at
her home in Henderson, Nev.
"I remember saying something that night to the
effect of his parents did an amazing job raising
him," Holden said. "To me, the most impressive
thing about Mike Chiasson is the person that he is.
A good, whole-hearted, respectful human being."
Mike has no doubts about where these quali-
ties came from. Much of his character comes from
Steve. Being told he channels his dad is one of the
biggest compliments he can get - it's something he
strives for as much as possible in his everyday life.
"I'm very proud of my last name," he said. "I'm
very proud of the family that I came from. The way
(my dad) treated my mom was amazing, the way
he treated all of us kids was exceptional. That's
something that I try to hopefully one day be able
to instill those traits and qualities into my family."
But until that day, those traits and qualities can
be seen on display at Yost every day.
On the ice, there's a hockey player, but more
importantly, there's a man. And though eyes can
fall to the No. 3 on his sweater asa quick indication
as to who helped shaped Mike, that's not even nec-
essary- Steve's there, and he's visible with every
check, every skate, every movement.
And that's enuouhi for Mikento know

tion from the players to the athletic trainers put
into the team.
It was that network that helped Mike feel so
comfortable around the team as a youngboy. It was
that network that helped the Chiassons through
the aftermath of Steve's death. It's that network
that still keeps in contact with the family.
Francis has seen Mike play a few times at
Michigan, making the trip up to New York City in
November for the Frozen Apple game against Cor-
nell. Former teammates of Steve still call the fam-
ily from time to time, and Susan stays in touch with
some of the other hockey wives. Mike sees several
of Steve's former teammates when his family sum-
mers at its cottage.
"There's still alhandful ofguys who visit us in the
summer who live in the local Toronto area," Mike
said. "We've got a pretty good group of NHLers
who live in the area in Peterborough whom, in
summers past, we work out with and skate with."
The NHL hasn't forgotten Mike. And Mike
hasn't forgotten it either.
Every time Michigan has played at Joe Louis
Arena in the past two years - for the Great Lakes
Invitational, the annual game with Michigan State
or the CCHA Tournament - Mike has taken a min-
ute to visit Al Sobotka's office.

0

Raleigh.
Francis lived a couple doors down from the Chi-
assons, with three children that matched the ages
of Mike, Ryan and Stephanie. The kids went to
school together and played outside together. They
saw each other at team functions and parties.

They were their own little family.
ike says the most important perspec-
tivel he gained from all the time he spent
o one has worn the No. 3 Jersey for the behind the scenes with the Hurricanes was the
Hurricanes since Steve wore it. It hasn't amount of effort that everybody in the organiza-

0

Politics & Economics

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