CHL Summer Jobs 2014: Welding, farming and making green on the greens
As summer winds down, so does BTN's look at the off-season jobs held down by junior hockey's best and brightest.
With most CHL teams preparing for training camps, it means many players are back finishing work after a short-lived hockey break. Two of the players we featured in our earlier summer job installment this season - goaltender Corbin Boes (Calgary Flames) and defenceman Marc-Olivier Crevier-Morin (Montreal Canadiens) were also away at NHL development camps, as was defenceman Brett Lernout (also Montreal) who was drafted in June and is featured below.
Unless you're taken with a high pick, being drafted by an NHL club doesn't guarantee you much outside of getting an invitation to camp and some free team swag. Making a living in pro hockey is hard work and these kids are continuing to working hard away from the rink as well.
Here's how some players across the Canadian Hockey League are spending their summers…
Keigan Goetz (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds)
Blacksmith/Welder - Huron County, Ont:
Over the years we've featured a number of unique jobs and now we can add blacksmith to the list, thanks to Soo Greyhounds forward Keigan Goetz. Forging and working with iron is his specialty and this is the first summer that Goetz is making his custom creations on his own full-time.
He started when he was younger watching and helping his dad, Todd, who is a licensed pipeline welder. The Goetz family has a workshop - complete with forge - in the backyard of their home in New Hamburg, Ont., which is situated between Kitchener and Stratford.
"My dad's a welder so as a hobby he always made wrought iron work for people," says Goetz. "I'd always help him, like a right-hand man, but now I'm taking it on myself. It's my first year doing it myself, but I've always been there helping him."
For the kind of work he does, Goetz does not need to be licensed. He's proficient in MIG welding and is continuing to learn some stick welding - which he says is more difficult to master. Dealing with a forge - "it's like a super-oven," says Goetz - hot enough to manipulate metal means safety is of the utmost importance when the 17-year-old is working.
"We use welding gloves," says the right-winger."But you still have to watch where you grab because you can still get burned pretty easily - which has happened - if you're not careful. I'm pretty safe, obviously I don't want to injure myself. I'm always taking precautions."
It also means working in sweltering conditions during the already hot summer.
"You're in heat all day," says Goetz. "You're in overalls and a thick coat so you don't get burned. But I've grown up helping my dad with stuff so I'm kind of used to it.
"You're sweating constantly."
This summer he's been getting work mainly through word of mouth in the community and already has a few more projects lined up.
"It's mainly gates and stuff," says Goetz. "But I can make benches, tables, bird feeders - it's pretty extensive what I can do. You can build a lot of stuff with what I do."
The good thing about his job, is that he's able to work on his own schedule to fit in his hockey training. He gets paid by the project, but he's able to tailor his work to a budget once he's factored in his costs for materials, overhead and, of course, his own labour. The more intricate a design, the more labour intensive it is, but Goetz says he's happy to work with clients.
"All the swirls and bends you see (in the work), that's me putting it in," says Goetz, explaining the process. "I'll heat that rod up until it's red and then I'll take an anvil and hammer and bend it."
A completely custom Goetz gate - like the one pictured above - will run you in the neighbourhood of $350-$400. If you're interested in having a custom piece created you can reach Keigan via Twitter: @keigangoetz or email: keigangoetz [at] rogers.com
Ross Johnston (Charlottetown Islanders)
Farm hand - Winter River Farms, Suffolk, P.E.I:
There's a little extra comfort when you're working at home for summer like native Islander Ross Johnston. Helping run the family beef cattle business means there's no shortage of work to be done looking after roughly 65 or so cows on their farm.
"It ranges every day what I'm doing," says the 6-foot-3, 209-pound forward. "Usually in the spring when I first get home from hockey I spread all the manure and what not out of the barns and get all the fences ready to put the cows out on - those would be the main two jobs."
He hits the gym in the morning and then heads back home to work, though his hours vary it can mean long days if there's a lot to be done. The cows on the farm include Angus, Charolais and Red Simmental. There are also three bulls for breeding, so it's common for Johnston to help birth calves - which he says still never gets old.
"It is cool to really see it all," says Johnston. "But when you're growing up around it, sometimes the novelty wears off, but I still really enjoy it. For a town person such as yourself, you'd probably find it pretty amazing."
He says his favourite thing about the job is working in the comforts of home. It also meant not having to spend time looking for work elsewhere, considering this is something he's grownup doing.
"I really do enjoy it," says Johnston, who will be back for an overage season with his hometown Charlottetown Islanders. "It's something to keep you occupied. You can work out in the morning and then laze around the house all day, but that gets pretty old pretty fast. So I enjoy it because it keeps me busy, and it gives me a little extra spending money."
Johnston says he makes $13 an hour for his labour, which helps him out during the QMJHL season, especially considering the league recently dropped the overage pay from $550 to $150 a week.
"It goes a long way," he says. "In the CHL you don't make too, too much money. That's probably one of the downfalls of it all, so it goes a long way because you play with a lot of guys that don't have a lot of extra (funds). So it's obviously nice to be one of the ones with a little extra spending money to get you through the season."
Brett Lernout (Swift Current Broncos)
Back Shop Attendant- Pine Ridge Golf Club, Winnipeg, Man.:
It was hard holding back on the Caddyshack jokes, but Swift Current Broncos defenceman Brett Lernout has probably heard them all by now. After all, he's been working at the Pine Ridge Golf Course in his hometown of Winnipeg for the past four summers.
He started when he was 14 and, because he lives nearby, was able to ride his bike to work long before he was licensed to drive. It's always difficult to find a summer job when you're a teen, so having something setup without having to go through the application process is always a bonus.
"It's nice, when you get back home, to know you have that as a backup plan for the summer," says the third-round pick of the Montreal Canadiens. "I can always go back to the golf course."
He works part-time - three to four times a week - in the back shop in charge of tasks like cleaning golf clubs for members and making sure the golf carts are in good shape. Lernout makes minimum wage at his job which usually entails a five or six hour shift that starts in the late afternoon. Like many other players we've featured here over the years, it gives him something to do and adds a little extra money in his wallet.
Not to mention the nice perk of golfing gratis.
"I get to golf for free," says the 6-foot-4, 205-pound defenceman. "That's a positive, so whenever I've got a day off I'll golf for free. I'm always out there golfing.
"It's pretty easy, it's just simple work."
Another good thing about his job, says Lernout, is the flexible schedule which allows for him to workout in the mornings and also take time off for hockey - like when he was away at Montreal Canadiens development camp.
"They understand," says Lernout of his employer. "If I need to take a week off they don't mind because they understand my situation."
Being at the course so much has given him the ability to talk a bit with the club pro whenever he sees him on the chipping or putting green. As a result, Lernout has been able to pick up some helpful tips on improving his game.
"I'm OK," says the 18-year-old of his golf game. "I'm not too good, but I'm pretty good."