Back in the days when Gretzky and Messier were turning heads in Edmonton, Kevin Haller was turning on the garden hose. His backyard rink in Trochu, Alberta was a labor of love the perfect place to fire off slapshots and dream about winning the Stanley Cup.
At 16, Kevin gave up his homemade rink in the back yard to join the Regina Pats. But life in the Western Hockey League was surprisingly difficult. Despite having made a commitment to Jesus as a kid and growing up in a strong Christian family, Kevin's faith floundered when he was out on his own. "There was a lot of pressure," he admits. "I found myself compromising. I thought I was an adult but I caved in to the pressure."
For the next two years, Kevin struggled to stay true to his faith. The he got the call. He'd been rafted by the Buffalo Sabres and would soon be playing with heir minor league team in Rochester, New York.
"I knew I didn't want to start out the same way I did in Regina," Kevin recalls. "When I got to Rochester, there was a big party where everyone was suppose to get drunk. I asked God to give me strength to say no'."
It was a tough night for the rookie. "I kept thinking of that verse, be strong and courageous," he says. "I was laughed at a lot, but I was glad I made a stand."
Of course there have been other parties since that night. Lots of them in fact. Even a Stanley Cup celebration with the Montreal Canadiens. But Kevin refuses to do anything that might harm his relationship with Christ.
"I just want to be as close to Jesus as I can be," the Mighty Ducks' assistant captain says. "I want to live the way He wants me to and be an example to people who don't know Him."
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