Keegan Lowe following in his father's footsteps
|VIDEO: Kevin Lowe comments on proposed rule changes at NHL RD&O Camp and watching son Keegan play.|
His duties included fetching drinks and snacks for the scouts and club officials at the draft table while player evaluations and selections were made over the course of the two-day event. It was a job that ultimately had a profound effect on his playing career.
"I can't remember whether I was 8 or 9 years old, but that was great seeing the guys putting on their jerseys for the first time," Keegan Lowe told NHL.com. "That's when I started to dream … I wanted that to be me one day."
Slowly but surely, Lowe is living out that dream -- following in the footsteps of his dad. The elder Lowe was drafted in the first round (No. 21) by Edmonton in 1979 and played 19 seasons in the NHL, winning five Stanley Cups in Edmonton and another with the New York Rangers.
Keegan, a 17-year-old defenseman with the Western Hockey League's Edmonton Oil Kings, not only plays the same position as his father, but he plays on the same ice where his father spent 15 seasons -- the Oil Kings' home ice is Rexall Place.
"There's pressure playing in the same rink your dad played and people say your dad got you into places, but I'm the type of person who can just forget about that stuff and play the game, so it's great to experience," the younger Lowe said. "During the Canadian national anthem, just looking up into the stands and seeing the names of (Wayne) Gretzky, (Mark) Messier and (Jari) Kurri … all the names retired there. It's unreal to play in that building."
At just over 6 feet tall and 172 pounds, Keegan Lowe is a bit smaller than his father (6-2, 200) was during his playing days. But he had a solid WHL debut, finishing with 2 goals, 14 points and 60 penalty minutes in 69 games.
Father and son both attended the 2010 NHL Research, Development and Orientation Camp Fueled By G Series at the Toronto Maple Leafs' practice facility Wednesday and Thursday -- Keegan as one of the top 2011 Entry Draft prospects tasked with bringing possible rule changes to life, Kevin as an interested observer in how those changes might affect the way the game is played -- and as a proud parent.
"It's fun to watch him," Kevin Lowe told NHL.com. "He loves the game and really is passionate about it. It doesn't get any better than that in terms of how I view him. I really enjoy how he's developed; he's been a little bit a late bloomer in terms of his peer group, but every year he seems to improve quicker and quicker and seems to have caught up to his peer group to the point he now fits in well and he's out here (at the RDO Camp), so that's pretty special."
Keegan realizes the RDO camp is the first step in leaving some sort of impression on the scouts, coaches and general managers in attendance.
"My mom and dad always tell me to play my own game and forget about everyone else," he said. "So I don't worry about other people and what they're doing on the ice."
In addition to Kevin Lowe, Keegan's mother, Karen Percy, was a two-time bronze-medalist in Alpine skiing for Canada at the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, so athletes abound in the Lowe household. Karen also was the one making certain the frozen ice rink in the family's backyard was properly hosed down and ready for action since dad usually was away on business.
There was a time when Keegan had to choose between continuing his career as a hockey player or becoming a skier. He didn't give it too much thought.
"My mom put me and my three sisters in the ski program in Edmonton and I kept it up as long as I could, but eventually I had to pick one or the other since my hockey coach was afraid of me going up the mountain to go skiing and the ski coach didn't want me missing races for hockey," Lowe said. "My dad knew all along I was going to be a hockey player. I had fun skiing, but hockey was my dream."
Kevin Lowe still can recall the day Keegan made his decision.
"It was at a young age, and I have to confess, when I think back at the time I was kind of hoping he'd take Alpine skiing," he said. "That's a little more conducive to family weekends. He was actually a good little skier.
"You could look at a hockey player and say that kid has talent, and for a skier, if they have good glide they have good talent and Keegan had that. Like many kids over the years, you eventually have to make a decision once you get to the higher level and I'm kind of glad he made the decision to play hockey now."
To this day, Keegan's most treasured piece of sports memorabilia is a game-used hockey stick signed by Gretzky.
Prior to joining the Oil Kings last season, Keegan, who describes himself as an offensive defenseman, spent two seasons at Shattuck-St. Mary's School in Faribault, Minn.
"My dad knew (former coach) J.P. Parise, and he told us to check out Shattuck," Lowe said. "I was there for a couple of years and I really enjoyed it and my game progressed a lot. I stayed there for ninth and 10th grade and then came back to play for the Oil Kings."
Kevin Lowe felt his son's experience at Shattuck helped pave a path to this stage of his career.
"Shattuck was a great experience and that helped excel his development, so I think he remembers that and is proud of that," he said.
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale