The story behind Rayside-Balfour coach Steve Lauzon
by Randy Pascal
Steve Lauzon is most definitely the man in charge on the bench of the Rayside-Balfour Canadians these days.
And though it might seem to some as a fairly large jump from his previous head coaching experience with the Sudbury Major Peewee “AAA” Wolves, or
back to his days at the helm of SMHA midget house league teams, it is, in reality, a role for which he has been tangentially groomed for much of his life.
The ties to the NOJHL (Northern Ontario Junior “A” Hockey League) are many, the prep time for his new position constituting hundreds and hundreds
of hours of experience from which Lauzon can draw.
Born in Vancouver but moving to Sudbury at the age of two, the now 53 year old father of three is an alumnus of the league in which he now coaches, as
was his younger brother (Mike), the only siblings in the Minnow Lake raised clan.
Skating with SMHA minor hockey teams throughout his youth, the talkative hockey man transitioned to three years as a member of the St Charles College
Cardinals before enjoying four years with the Sudbury North Stars/Sudbury Cubs.
“I had never played with my brother, because of the age gap,” said Lauzon. “He was 17 and I was 20. We got a chance to play on the same team, same league,
and it was awesome.” While he would kick the tires with the thoughts of possibly pursuing competitive hockey beyond his 21st birthday, Lauzon would reach
the very same cross roads that now present themselves to the teenagers under his watch.
“I was enrolled at Cambrian and did my field placement at Cecil Facer, and there was a good opportunity to get hired on full time,” he recalled. “If
there’s a job, and it’s a good job, a career job, and you’re going to enjoy it, you’ve got to sit down and make that tough decision.” For Lauzon, the end
result would be an eighteen year stint as a youth correctional officer, a day-time pursuit that offered far more synergetic benefit to his love of coaching
than what one might first anticipate.
“I was able to take my athletic ability, my drive, my motivation, and roll it into how to teach, to expose some of these young kids to some positive
reinforcement,” explained Lauzon. “The key is communication. The best people in our corrections staff were great listeners.”
Known in equal parts for his pound for pound toughness as well as his character in his playing days, the local product did not remain on the sidelines
for long before re-emerging in a sport that he has lived his entire life.
“You get married and have children, and a few years after that, you’re right involved, helping coach your kids,” said Lauzon. “It was a passion of mine,
so when my kids moved on, there were opportunities to coach other teams. It fed into my passion and responsibility as a corrections officer.”
In fact, he would take the reins in both hockey and lacrosse, primarily, even mixing up a short stint with youth soccer. As his own family matured,
Lauzon would coach Sudbury Rockhounds lacrosse teams, taking on the field lacrosse crew at Laurentian University, and eventually making his
way back into the NOJHL, assisting alongside the likes of his Rayside predecessor, Dave Clancy, and current Wolves assistant Darryl Moxam,
working the bench of the Sudbury Northern Wolves/Sudbury Jr Wolves.
“What I saw then and what I need to utilize now is the strength and determination to get these young guys committed to the direction that our team has
to go,” he stated. “At this age group, all of these guys have an opportunity to go to the next level. I am a good motivator, and I think that’s what appeals
to our owner (Adrian Gedye), and I think that appeals to these players. They quickly saw my passion.”
“You have to have a real wish and want to coach, because you certainly sacrifice monetarily, especially at the minor hockey level.” Make no mistake –
Steve Lauzon absolutely loves to talk hockey, and while he recognizes that the game is played much differently than when he was in the shoes/skates of his
current players, he maintains a clear idea of how he would like to see his hockey team compete.
“I want high intensity, and that’s where you need to make those adjustments,” he suggested. “Play the game between the whistles and keep your mouth shut.
I want them to be aggressive, but don’t cross the line, don’t do anything that will hurt your team. Discipline is the key to the game right now.”
Still, there is a refreshing openness to the manner in which he is approaching his new position with the Canadians. “I’m not ignorant to the fact that I
am the new kid on the block and I need to take in all of that information,” said Lauzon. “The more I get, the more I hear, the more it adds to our
reservoir of knowledge.”
“To be a strong technical coach, you’ve got to work at it all of the time. I try and break the game down into a simplistic form, because I think you can
have all of the Xs and Os, but it’s still about putting the puck in the net the most, and defending your back end. Strong goaltending, strong defense wins
championships. That’s still my mantra.”
In that sense, he has liked what he has seen from his stable of blueliners that currently includes Zach Snow, Shane Donovan, Ryan O’Bonsawin, Jordan
Spadafore, Ethan Lavallee, Brandon Atkins and Ronson Odjig, though he has yet to have that entire contingent at his availability, even for a
single game, since he was named to his post.
“Right now, we’re an aggressive team, we skate hard, we move the puck quick, we’re working on the back end,” said Lauzon. “When everybody is back, we’re
going to be a threat to any team in this league. There’s no doubt in my mind.”