Chances of a minor hockey league player making it to WHL/OHL/Scholarship player: .5 per cent
Chances of WHL/OHL/Scholarship player making it to the NHL: Five per cent
Those are pretty long odds, and if by some chance a player makes the NHL, reaching over 100 games is not easy and winning the Stanley Cup is even harder.
For Mark Lamb, currently the head coach of the Swift Current Broncos, he has done all of those things.
Born on Aug. 3, 1964, Lamb spent his early life on a farm near Ponteix, while going to school in Cadillac.
Drafted 72nd overall by the Calgary Flames in 1982, Lamb spent six seasons in the WHL (as well as a season with the then-SJHL Swift Current Broncos), where he scored 362 points in 244 games.
He made the leap to the NHL in 1985-86, playing one game with the Calgary Flames.
After two more years with the AHL, Tigers, Lamb found himself with the Detroit Red Wings. Playing in 22 games in 1986-87, he netted three points. The following season, Lamb found himself claimed by the greatest team that has ever existed; The Dynasty-era Edmonton Oilers. In 1987-88, he played two games with no points and spent the next two seasons in the AHL. In 1988-89, following Gretzky’s trade to Los Angeles, Lamb was brought up to the NHL for good. In four seasons with the Oilers, he 93 points in 174 games.
The crowning achievement came in 1990 when he won the Stanley Cup with the Oilers.
Between 1992 and 1996, Lamb would play for Ottawa, Philadelphia and Montreal. Upon his retirement in 2000, he finished his NHL career with 146 points in 403 games in the regular season and 26 points in 70 playoff games.
The Boomtown took time to interview Lamb, who is now the head coach of the Swift Current Broncos, about his life and career.
What was it like growing up in Ponteix?
It was good. We farmed out there and growing up all we did was rodeo and go to school and play hockey and lots of work and picking work.
What are some of your favourite memories from the town?
I was born in Ponteix, but for the most part we were Cadillac people. I played hockey there, went to school there. For the most part we grew up in Cadillac.
Do you ever get back there?
We make it down every once in awhile. When I was gone all those years, we would come back every year, once a year. Now it is not very far away. My dad lives down there so we get back every so often.
When you were drafted, did you think you would spend 400 games in the NHL and win a Stanley Cup?
When you are drafted that is your goal. You want to play one game and when you are a young kid you want to win the Stanley cup. It is a dream and that is what you have to have. Once you play a few games and get to a team that you think you can have success, it becomes a reality.
What is your favourite hockey memory?
Winning the Stanley cup.
What was it like taking to the ice as a young man with players like the Oilers?
The year before we played them in the playoffs and just playing against them was excited. When I was traded and I walked into the dressing room and Messier and Gretzky and Lowe were all there. You are in awe of it and it is intimidating. Those types of players make you feel at home pretty quick.
What are some of the biggest differences between coaching in the NHL and in the WHL?
It is different in many ways. You are not coaching any different in the competitive part when you are on the bench or how you run your practices or how you coach. The difference is you are dealing with kids off the ice. They are going to school. Most of the coaching you have to talk to them a lot more, give them more guidance. They are teenage kids going through a lot of emotions of leaving home. Once you are in the NHL. That is the difference. Most of the guys are married, living on their own. You turn yourself into a parent in the WHL.
What are your hobbies outside of hockey?
I like to golf a little bit. I used to rodeo a lot but don’t have time now. My really my hobbies now are with volleyball and I spend most of my time with my kids.
With the hockey season done, what are your plans for the summer?
The hockey season is never done. It is still the everyday grind of coming to the office. We went through the bantam draft, now it is the euro draft. We are talking to our players, doing conditioning programs, getting letters out for training camp. You want to take time off to refresh your brain and get excited for the season.