CARP – The Stanley Cup came to Carp Saturday (Aug. 19) and it was brought there by a West Carleton native who now has his name etched on the greatest trophy in all sports for all eternity.
Kinburn native Doug Davidson, 32, didn’t strap on the skates during the Vegas Golden Knights’ Stanley Cup run last spring, but his contribution was so significant, the strength and conditioning coach was included in the list of names inscribed on the Cup last spring.
Friday (Aug. 18) was his day with the precious trophy, and he wanted to spend it with the West Carleton Minor Hockey Association (WCMHA) who fostered his love of hockey growing up in West Carleton and playing for the Warriors.
And hundreds of hockey lovers, both young and old, came out to get a photo with the fabled trophy.
“I can’t remember the exact years, but it would have started in novice.” Davidson told West Carleton Online shortly after bringing the trophy in to the Carp arena to the roar of several hundred people who had been patiently waiting. “Basically, novice right up to the end of high school. I played on the West Carleton high school team as well. I was never a great player, but I worked hard and tried my best and did okay.”
Davidson grew up on the Kinburn side of the West Carleton border with Lanark County near Pakenham.
Davidson joined the Golden Knights in 2017 in the team’s inaugural NHL season and was promoted to associate director of Sports Performance and Strength and Conditioning in November of 2022. That same season, the Golden Knights won their first National Hockey League Stanley Cup.
Before joining the Golden Knights, Davidson was the strength and conditioning coach for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, the American Hockey League affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins. While there, he oversaw all aspects of off-ice training, assisted in rehab and oversaw team meals, supplement use, and nutrition. He also coordinated with the Penguins coaching staff to plan schedules and manage players’ workload. In addition, he assisted Pittsburgh Penguins performance staff during NHL Training Camp and the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
“I kind of got a good reputation of helping bring players up from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton who went on and contributed to Penguin cups (2016 and 2017),” Davidson said. “Whether I contributed to that or not, it looks good at least. I was able to get some interest from the Knights and they sort of wanted to build a similar plan to the Penguins. We haven’t exactly held true to the development side of things, there were a lot of free agents and trades instead. I think we only had one draft pick on our Cup winning team, but that’s beside the point. I was able to get the opportunity, and it was really neat to be able to start from the ground up, our practice rink wasn’t even built, and go from there.”
Davidson graduated from Queen’s University in 2013 with honours, and also was the university’s sports teams’ intern strength and conditioning coach for three years during his time there.
But the story is, rugby is really Davidson’s best sport.
“I transitioned to rugby in high school and university, and that’s what kind of got me in to strength and conditioning,” Davidson said.
As both a WCMHA Warrior and West Carleton high school player, Davidson played a lot of hockey in the W. Erskine Johnston Arena, and he has lots of memories of that time.
“It was fun,” Davidson said. “A lot of my good friends I met doing it. It was a social opportunity to get to meet people from across the community. A lot of guys didn’t go to my school, but I played hockey with them, and we became very good friends. Get to high school and now some of those guys are going to the same high school. I really made a lot of good memories in terms of fun and the friends I made.”
Now, Davidson is on the results-based side of professional hockey, and his results have been off the chart, as the Knights became the youngest NHL team to win a Stanley Club six years after joining the league.
“It’s pretty surreal,” Davidson said. “We still had a decent amount of the players we started with six years ago. We came in really hot and had a lot of success, then we were kind of up and down and couldn’t get over the hump. Obviously, last year we didn’t make the playoffs. Throw in COVID, which was trying times for everyone. It was a long couple of years not making the playoffs. As an organization we were kind of able to reset and refocus, and come with a better mentality, a bit more kind of lunchpail and work boots mentality, and more than anything guys were just showing up at the rink and having fun again. I don’t think that can be understated. Any good team I’ve been a part of (and there have been many), either as a player in rugby, or hockey as a staff member, if people don’t enjoy showing up to practice, they’re probably not going to be very successful. Just the fun and cohesiveness of our group, obviously there’s a lot of talent there too, but there are plenty of teams with talent. They had a lot of fun together. They enjoyed showing up and working hard together and really cared about each other. I think that was a big shift in terms of the morale we had this year over last year.”
Davidson says sharing that experience in the form of the Stanley Cup with young and old hockey fans in West Carleton is a reward in itself.
“It’s awesome,” Davidson said. “I was able to take it to my dad’s farm earlier for family friends. I don’t get to get home a lot. My fiancé met my friends from the area for the first time. It’s a good opportunity to see some relatives, and some old teachers from West Carleton. Really cool to see a lot of people I don’t typically get to see a lot. And of course, really cool to see how excited everyone is here. I know if I was in their shoes, and had the opportunity when I was young to see the Stanley Cup, I’d be ecstatic too. It’s nice to be able to share this with the community.”
The event, organized by the WCMHA, was also a fundraiser for the West Carleton Food Access Centre (WCFAC), and following the extra-long photo shoot, the WCMHA had a bag of loot and bins of food to share with West Carleton’s food bank.
“Hundreds of people came out Friday afternoon and everyone got to have their moment with the Cup,” WCMHA board member Jen McAndrew told West Carleton Online. “Seeing the smiles was incredible. It’s amazing how something like this can bring the community together. We raised more than $450 and hundreds of pounds of food for the WCFAC. We can’t thank Doug and his family enough for reaching out so we could make this happen. It was truly a memorable day for West Carleton minor hockey.”