The end of the summer means our final installment of our annual series featuring the off-season work habits of junior hockey players. This summer we've had many interesting jobs and a couple of jobs that pay really well – which is important when you're making CHL money.
The fun thing about this series is picturing the players you're used to seeing at the rink, signing autographs for kids or doing interviews, out in the summer mowing lawns or fishing or building decks or working in your local bakery. For most of them, it's a good way to keep busy during the off-season and earn some cash – just like most other teens.
So without further ado, here's a look at how some players are spending the summer...
Kyle Haas (Moncton Wildcats)
Landscaper - Fredericton, N.B.:
Usually our summer job stories are pretty straight forward, but Kyle Haas' off-season tale is anything but ordinary. It was while he was working as a landscaper for a contractor in the Fredericton, N.B., area that he noticed something wasn't quite right with his body.
"I kept losing weight," said the Moncton Wildcats winger. "I was urinating a lot and I was just constantly thirsty. I knew something was wrong."
At first he said he thought the changes might have been because of his job - being active outside in the hot sun, carrying heavy objects and general manual labour. It was his first time as a landscaper and he was putting in long hours – usually 14 hours a day– so he thought it was work-related.
The situation continued getting worse, so the 19-year-old went to the doctor who admitted him to the hospital right away. At Haas' lowest point, he had lost 30 pounds and his 6-foot-2 frame weighed a svelte 159 pounds.
"When I came home from work my dad said I looked like a zombie," said Haas. "It was pretty bad."
Haas was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. The disease runs in his family, but he still was shocked to see it present itself this early.
"I was pretty surprised, because I didn't think it would be Type 1," said Haas, who spent five days in hospital. "I'm lucky that this happened at the start of the summer, if it happened at the end of the summer I don't even know what I'd do. I can't even imagine."
Haas now weighs 190 pounds and is monitoring his insulin levels and food intake to manage the disease. He's also been working with a dietician and going to "diabetes school" to help him learn more about how to control and maintain his levels.
"They've been helping me a lot," said Haas, who made it to camp on time in Moncton. "I put my weight back on and I've been working out every day."
As for his work as a landscaper, Haas said he enjoyed his job because he was able to work outside and the long hours meant being paid overtime on top of his $10 per hour job. He'd usually work Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., though they'd get the day off if it rained.
"It was keeping me in shape," said Haas. "It was pretty good. I was mostly mowing like commercial lawns and some residential. I was getting a good workout.
"It's better than sitting inside and doing other stuff."
Once Haas became ill though, he ended up losing his job.
"It was kind of unfortunate," said Haas. "After I was in the hospital my boss never phoned me back."
Beau McCue (Tri-City Americans)
Ranch hand - Monument, Colorado:
This seems like a really great job. If you're like Tri-City Americans winger Beau McCue and love animals, a summer job caring for a variety of four-legged friends is about as good as it gets. The 18-year-old helps out at a small farm not too far from his home in Colorado Springs, Col., taking care of two horses, two goats, a donkey and a parcel of land.
"The owner is gone a lot, so I'm usually there to take care of (the farm)," said McCue. "I love working with the animals."
His workday usually begins around 7 a.m. and starts with feeding the animals. He's also in charge of preparing their food for the evening, cleaning their stalls, clearing the pasture and helping out with small maintenance jobs like fixing a fence. He also helped care for extra neighbouring horses after their ranch was threatened by forest fires this summer.
"I think there were about six of them," said McCue. "I helped feed them, water them, make their beds for them and make sure everything it going smoothly."
It's perfect work for someone like McCue who has an affinity for taking care of animals. He grew up in Montana where his family's home was on a mountain pass and had a chicken coop, horses and dogs.
"That's where I kind of got all my animal knowledge from," said McCue. "Living up there and just taking care of all of them with my dad."
Sharing the forward's current home in Colorado Springs, Co., there are two dogs and two desert tortoises and another unknown critter.
"My brother has some kind of lizard," explains McCue.
Many animals need time to build trust with a new face as McCue learned when he was helping tend to the farm's goats. One of the goats was quite friendly because it was used to human contact. The other goat, however, was more surly and suspicious of McCue.
"The other goat is an interesting goat," said the 6-foot-1, 200-pound winger. "At first, he wouldn't come near me and he would run away and look at you like you were some kind of predator. But the more that I went there, the goat started coming up to me more and more. Now it just runs up to me like it's a dog – it's pretty cool."
The good thing about McCue's job is that it isn't very regimented, so he was able to take time off to attend development camp with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The most difficult thing about his job would be going through the pastures removing debris. That job entails walking the expansive land with wheelbarrow picking up garbage, manure, large branches and anything else that might impede or harm the animals.
"I usually do that about twice a week so that it doesn't get pretty bad," said McCue of the two pastures on the farm. "We make sure we pick up all the rocks before we take the horses out because they can't see them – we don't want them to break their legs."
As far as the pay goes, McCue was making about $100 a week for a job he said he would probably do for free because he enjoyed being outside and around the animals so much.
"I don't really care (about the money)," said McCue. "It was a nice summer thing to do. It gets me out of the house and I'm still kind of new here since I've been gone playing hockey while my family has been here, so it's nice to get out and do something."
Gregg Sutch (Saginaw Spirit)
Pool builder - Newmarket, Ont.,:
The Saginaw Spirit overager is one of our favourites, so we figured we'd see what he was up to this summer. In typical fashion, he offered to write his own work description.
Here's Gregg Sutch's summer job in his own words, edited for length:
As a pool builder, we start right from scratch and that involves a lot of detail in ensuring the pool's dimensions are to a tee. A lot of times we're also responsible for the landscaping around the pool.
Essentially, we are going into someone's backyard and ripping the whole thing up. Building pools start with digging the hole with machines and then setting up the framework with the steel. Once we've formed the pool and drilled all the steel together, we have to shift the pool to make sure the dimensions of the pool are where they should be. We also have to ensure the pool is leveled at angles, and this can get tricky.
Now the fun stuff begins; [using a wheelbarrow to move] 2-4 tons of concrete all along the pool edges to create a solid base therefore the pool will not shift at all. The wheelbarrows can be challenging in a long hot day in the sun so lets just say there have been a couple spills and falls. You never live down those accidents, and I'm a victim of this.
Once the outside of the pool has been filled up with concrete, we set up a ramp to run the barrow up to the edge and dump the concrete into the pool. Generally we'll have 2-3 guys in the pool leveling out the concrete, and 3-4 guys on the wheelbarrows.
For the most part, this is the hard labour part of building pool, after this it is mostly small things such as putting a liner in, the pool equipment, and the water.
This is a full-time job for the summer, and I'm logging 50-70 hour weeks. There are some days I work up to 12 hours and then go to the gym after or hockey. Sometimes we will catch a break if it is raining out but that also means no hours for the time I don't work.
This is the first time I've been involved in this type of work and as much as it is a grind some days, I enjoy it because it's a good work out, and I'm working with some great guys, makes for a fun atmosphere. We all get along very well and like to get on each others nerves if you make a mistake.
I know my boss will be reading this so let's just say the best part about this job is working for him, Kevin O'Connor. ... Another thing I really enjoy about this job is how much I am learning. Not just with how to build a pool, but also how to do landscaping, the different tools involved, the business side of things; all real-world scenarios. A handyman in the making! It's also a really great and satisfying feeling to be done a job and take a look back and see how good it looks. Another sweet perk of this job is the tan I'm finally getting, puts the "Casper" jokes to rest for once!
The worst part about the job is definitely the part I've already been complaining about this whole interview; wheelbarrows. We don't really see eye-to-eye. Carrying a wheelbarrow back and forth full of concrete or gravel can really wear you down but I think I've told you enough about how much I hate them. The heat can really be a problem too some days, it's hard to keep your energy up, especially on days where we have a lot of hard labour. Aside from that, I can't really complain too much about the job.
The job does pay well because you haul in a lot of hours so it starts to add up pretty big by the end of the week.