Arrested development: cop career on hold for new Giants' gig
Ex-player, ex-coach Scharff changes gears to become equipment manager after almost leaving the hockey world in his rear-view mirror
By Elliott Pap, Vancouver Sun
October 14, 2011
Vancouver Giants equipment manager Chad Scharff was on the 2006 WHL champion Vancouver Giants team and became an assistant coach after his playing days. He wrote a couple of police exams, but in the end opted to remain in hockey.
Photograph by: Ward Perrin, PNG, Vancouver Sun
Chad Scharff was at a crossroads. The coaching life, he determined, wasn't for him. He found himself stressed out too often. He was taking it home. He was grumpy. At 24, he didn't like where he was going.
Maybe he would become a cop. His father was retired RCMP. His older brother was active RCMP. He wrote a couple of police exams and, by his own account, did well. He was ready to leave the Vancouver Giants behind - forever.
"I was confused," Scharff said. "I felt I needed a change. It was a life decision I had to make. At the end of last season, my wife and I got in the car, drove to Calgary and started looking at some houses."
Scharff once thought he'd like coaching.
When the Giants offered him a position as Don Hay's assistant in 2008, he leaped at the opportunity. He had always been a Giant. He was drafted by them in 2001, played three full seasons for them and parts of two others. He was on the 2006 team that captured the Giants' one and only Western Hockey League championship and went to the Memorial Cup.
He even scouted for them.
He was what general manager Scott Bonner refers to as "Giants' royalty." But royalty or not, Scharff was prepared to flush the G-Men scene goodbye.
"After the exit meetings last season, I told Scott and Don I didn't think I was going to come back," Scharff recalled.
"Then, about two weeks later, Scott approached me about becoming the team's equipment manager. I kind of hemmed and hawed about it. It was still the hockey life, late nights, weekends, stuff like that. But I had been in hockey since I was four years old and I didn't know much else, other than policing.
"So I talked it over with my wife and she gave me the OK to stay in the hockey world. We thought why not give it a chance, see where it takes me. I've always wanted to be in the NHL in some capacity. It's still my goal and my dream and, if you can't make it in one role, find another, right?"
That very thought crossed the minds of Hay and Bonner. They weren't willing to give up on Scharff even if he was about to give up on them. Veteran equipment man Grant Ferguson wasn't coming back and his position was open.
"Chad had been a valuable member of our organization for a lot of years," Hay said.
"He was hard-working and very loyal and we didn't want to lose him, or what he brought to the team. He was looking for something different and it was Scott, I believe, who came up with the idea that equipment manager would be an interesting position for him. Every role he's had in this organization, he's done a really good job."
Scharff, now 25, already knew how to sharpen skates - his dad had a sharpener in the family garage - and was always curious about the latest innovations in hockey equipment. So it was just a matter of being organized, paying attention to every detail and, of course, never leaving the jerseys behind on a road trip.
The new job also allows Scharff to be himself again. A jovial sort with a teddy bearlike body, he prefers being a confidante to the players, rather than being their boss. He isn't living a totally stress-free existence but he's a much happier young man.
"I love it," Scharff said. "It's been everything I expected and more. I mean, I still get stressed when we get on the bus and it's: 'Do we have this? Do we have that? Did we pack this? Did we bring that?' I'm like that until we get to where we're going and everything is unpacked and I can see it.
"The hours may be a little long but when your stress levels are a lot less, it's easy to come home and be happy and kick your feet up at night and say you enjoy what you're doing. I feel fortunate. There are no complaints."
The RCMP, it seems, will have to wait before it has another Scharff on its force.
© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun