Up­per Is­land Cove player signs with Toronto Maple Leafs


Robert Slaney of Up­per Is­land Cove has signed a three-year con­tract with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

“We are ex­cited to have Robert join the Maple Leafs or­ga­ni­za­tion,” said gen­eral man­ager Brian Burke in an April 14 press release. “He is a strong pow­er­ful for­ward, who has good size, and his of­fen­sive to­tals have con­tin­u­ously im­proved over the past four sea­sons of ju­nior hockey with Cape Bre­ton.”

The Cape Bre­ton Scream­ing Ea­gles grad­u­at­ing for­ward signed off on the deal, April 12,(Easter Sun­day).

“It all seems so sur­real. In fact I still have to keep pinch­ing my­self to make sure it’s true,” said Slaney, who fin­ished tenth in league scor­ing this year by lead­ing the Scream­ing Ea­gles in both goals (36) and points (81).

“Talks have been on­go­ing for about two weeks, but it’s a done deal now. I’m re­ally ex­cited. This is some­thing I’ve wanted my whole life and I’m thrilled it all paid off.”

The 20-year-old son of Edith and Val Slaney started play­ing hockey when he was just three years old and went on to play with the Cee Bee’s mi­nor hockey league.

“My par­ents and my sis­ters, Leanne and Lori, sup­ported me my en­tire hockey ca­reer,” said Slaney dur­ing an April 14 tele­phone in­ter­view with The Com­pass.“ They went with me to the games and cheered me on. They’ve al­ways been be­hind me. They’re pretty ex­cited about this news,about the NHL con­tract. It’s been their dream as well as mine for a while and they’re happy it came true.”

Slaney, who’s been out of the line-up for the Scream­ing Ea­gles’ last three games in their quar­ter-fi­nal se­ries with the Que­bec Rem­parts with an undis­closed up­per-body in­jury, said sign­ing the con­tract will give him a boost as the Que­bec Ma­jor Ju­nior Hockey League (QMJHL) play­offs con­tinue.

“I’ll def­i­nitely be push­ing a lot harder,” said Slaney who, in six play­off games, col­lected nine points on five goals and four as­sists.

“I usu­ally try to give my heart and soul, but this will be an ex­tra push to get me go­ing.”

Slaney heads off to the NHL camp in Septem­ber.

“If things don’t work out there then I’ll go to the AHL team (Toronto Mar­lies) and hope­fully try to earn a spot there,” he says.

In 239 ca­reer games with Cape Bre­ton from 2005 to 2009, Slaney tal­lied 78 goals, 90 as­sists and 168 points, along with 229 penalty min­utes. In 2007-08 the suc­cess­ful Cape Bre­ton Uni­ver­sity busi­ness stu­dent was named the Cana­dian Hockey League’s Aca­demic Player of the Year. He was also hon­oured twice at the Scream­ing Ea­gles’ re­cent awards ban­quet as the team’s Reg­u­lar Sea­son Scor­ing Champ and with the Fans Choice Award.

While it would be easy to get caught up in all the glory and fame, the quiet down-to-earth hockey player is still guided by val­ues in­stilled by his par­ents.

To en­cour­age young Cape Bre­ton­ers in their school­work, he bought two sea­son tick­ets at the beginning of the 2008-09 sea­son to be used by a de­serv­ing stu­dent and an ac­com­pa­ny­ing adult at each Scream­ing Ea­gles home game. Af­ter­ward he in­vited the stu­dent down on the ice for a photo.

“This was a pro­gram I want- ed to start to give back to the peo­ple of Cape Bre­ton and to the fans for all the sup­port they had given me,” said Slaney. “ The tick­ets didn’t nec­es­sar­ily go to the smartest stu­dent or to some­one who stood out in sports. They went to some­one who was work­ing hard and had a good at­ti­tude - the kinds of at­tributes my par­ents wanted for my sis­ters and my­self. My par­ents taught me well. I wouldn’t be where I am to­day without them, they sac­ri­ficed a lot for me. “

How­ever Val and Edith aren’t tak­ing all the credit for their son’s suc­cess. They say his host fam­ily, in Cape Bre­ton, whom he has been liv­ing with for about four years, also helped him achieve his goals.

“Robert left home for train­ing camp in Cape Bre­ton when he was just 16 years old,” said his mom and dad. “He stayed with one bil­let for a lit­tle while, but the fam­ily lived so far out of town he had to look for an­other home.”

As luck should have it Robert met Lynn Pol­lock and his wife Sharon Ash and the cou­ple took him un­der their wings and into their home.

“If we were to pick a set of par­ents for him, they would have been it,” said Val and Edith.“He couldn’t have got­ten any bet­ter any­where. When you let your child go off to pur­sue an ed­u­ca­tion and a ca­reer so young as we did, there are many wor­ries that go with it, but Lynn and Sharon re­ally helped al­le­vi­ate our con­cerns. They took care of him and sup­ported him in the same man­ner that we would have and did what we would have done. And they didn’t just pro­vide him with a good house, good meals or clean laun­dry, those kinds of things. They were there through his ups and downs, both as a hockey player and as a teenager. They talked to him and helped him sort through the trou­bles of the world, and that to us means ev­ery­thing.”

In a cou­ple of weeks Robert will be leav­ing Cape Bre­ton for train­ing camp.

“That’s go­ing to be very hard on Lynn and Sharon, they’re re­ally go­ing to miss him,” said the Slaneys. “We hope they know how ap­pre­cia­tive we are to them for tak­ing such good care of our boy. The con­tract and his suc­cess in hockey are very im­por­tant, but not near as im­por­tant as his well-be­ing and hap­pi­ness.” Mean­while dur­ing The Com­pass in­ter­view Slaney ex­pressed ap­pre­ci­a­tion to his fam­ily and grand­par­ents, John and Leah Crane,(Up­per Is­land Cove) friends, for­mer hockey coaches and teach­ers for their sup­port over the years.

“I re­ally want them to know how grate­ful I am to them for all the sup­port they have given me over the years,” he said. “Please tell them that for me.”

To all young hockey hope­fuls in the Trin­ity Con­cep­tion area as well as across the prov­ince, Slaney of­fered this ad­vice.

“Don’t give up on your dreams and don’t let any­one tell you they can’t be achieved. It doesn’t mat­ter how small of a place you live in, if you are de­ter­mined and will­ing to work hard you can do it. You can get there.”

DONE DEAL - Cape Bre­ton Scream­ing Ea­gles for­ward Robert Slaney, signed a three-year con­tract with the Toronto Maple Leafs, April 12. The 20-year-old is the son of Edith and Val Slaney of Up­per Is­land Cove.

POW­ER­FUL FOR­WARD - Up­per Is­land Cover na­tive, Robert Slaney fin­ished tenth in league scor­ing this year by lead­ing the Cape Bre­ton Scream­ing Ea­gles in both goals (36) and points (81).

Pho­tos cour­tesy of Val and Edith Slaney

YOUNG PLAYER - A young Robert Slaney of Up­per Is­land Cove, proudly dis­play­ing a hockey medal. Slaney started play­ing hockey when he was just three years old and went on to play with the Cee Bee’s mi­nor hockey league.

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