NHL’s John Madden recounts his hockey history on Parma Court
It’s early morning and Minnesota Wild forward John Madden is on his way to hockey practice, much like he did as a kid growing up in Victoria Village.
At 37 years old he’s a seasoned NHL veteran — no longer the child who played street hockey in East York or played rep in Don Mills.
Unlike his early Saturdays at the Civitan years ago, he’s skating drills at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota. It’s his new home after winning a third Stanley Cup in Chicago. The victory ended the Original Six team’s 49-year drought.
When he shares some time over the phone to reminisce about growing up on Parma Court, there’s a pregnant pause, as though he’s staring at a sepia-tone photograph.
“It was quite some time now so the memories have faded, but I just remember being able to play with a lot of the kids from Parma,” he said. “A lot of friends there.
“I don’t really remember going home, I just remember playing hockey all day and having a lot of fun.”
While living in Toronto Community Housing’s Parma Court, Madden would play hockey for the Don Mills Flyers before heading to Barrie to play with the pre-OHL Colts.
From there, his on-ice talent garnered him a scholarship to the University of Michigan.
“It was extremely crazy to think that a kid like me could get a college scholarship to one of the greatest universities in the United States,” Madden said. “I had a blast for four years there. I was very lucky.”
Somehow he fell beneath the NHL’s radar when the 1993 draft came, but New Jersey Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello grew interested in the forward while scouting Madden’s Wolverine teammate Brendan Morrison.
“I guess how Lou tells the story is I kept catching his eye, which was great news for me, and I was able to win a job coming out of college with the Devils,” Madden said.
Three Stanley Cups later, Madden is settled in the Twin Cities.
“It’s a little bit slower pace of life than it was in Chicago, which suits me just fine,” he said. “And my family is really having fun here.”
Still, he will never forget winning Lord Stanley with an Original Six team.
“Winning it there in, I think, one of the biggest hockey markets in the United States, it was kind of crazy,” he said. “Being in that huge hockey market and the buzz that was around Chicago the entire time was really fun.”
That’s not to say he will forget Victoria Village either.
“It is a great feeling when I look back on where exactly I started from,” Madden said. “I’m sure many hockey players in the NHL could say the same thing, that they started in those small, old arenas.”