Re­tired Hab Steve Be­gin grad­u­ates high school 22 years af­ter drop­ping out

The Sun Times (Owen Sound) - - SPORTS - PIERRE SAINT-AR­NAUD

MON­TREAL — For­mer NHL left-winger Steve Be­gin made nearly $7 mil­lion dur­ing his ca­reer and started an engi­neer­ing com­pany af­ter re­tir­ing from the game, but he al­ways felt he was miss­ing some­thing.

It took 22 years, but on Thurs­day Be­gin fi­nally got that miss­ing piece in his life when he re­ceived his high school di­ploma.

Que­bec Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Jean-Fran­cois Roberge per­son­ally gave the Habs’ for­mer num­ber 22 and six other stu­dents his cer­tifi­cate at a cer­e­mony at the Bell Cen­tre, home of the Na­tional Hockey League’s Cana­di­ens.

“I have been lucky de­spite my less-than-in­tel­li­gent de­ci­sion to drop school,” Be­gin ac­knowl­edged at the cer­e­mony. “I ful­filled my dreams. I suc­ceeded in life. I have a su­per fam­ily. I have a com­pany. Ev­ery­thing is go­ing well — but I al­ways knew some­thing was miss­ing.”

Be­gin, 40, said it was his friend, UFC cham­pion and fel­low Que­be­cer Ge­orges St-Pierre, who chal­lenged him to fin­ish his stud­ies.

St-Pierre is the spokesman for an on­line teach­ing plat­form that Be­gin used to com­plete his stud­ies.

“I stud­ied early in the morn­ing and late at night,” Be­gin said. “I wanted to be ready. I was ner­vous like dur­ing a play­off game. I put in max­i­mum ef­fort, be­cause I re­ally wanted to be ready and not to fail.”

Be­gin stud­ied on­line for free on the ed­u­ca­tion plat­form Chal­lengeU, which is su­per­vised by seven par­tic­i­pat­ing school boards.

Roberge told re­porters that the fact Be­gin stud­ied on­line for free doesn’t make his di­ploma any less of­fi­cial.

“Ev­ery grad­u­ate (to­day) passed the min­is­te­rial exam,” Roberge said. “They met the stan­dards and ac­quired all the nec­es­sary knowl­edge in or­der to re­ceive a di­ploma that is valid and rec­og­nized.”

When Be­gin was asked what was harder, scor­ing a goal in the NHL or fin­ish­ing high school, he said he wasn’t known for his touch around the net.

“If you count the num­ber of goals I scored — it has to be scor­ing!” he said.

Be­gin played 524 games in the NHL be­tween 1997-2013 and scored 56 goals and 108 to­tal points.

He played for Cal­gary, Mon­treal, Dal­las, Bos­ton and Nash­ville.

RYAN REMIORZ/THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

For­mer Mon­treal Cana­di­ens player Steve Be­gin gives a speech af­ter re­ceiv­ing his high school di­ploma Thurs­day in Mon­treal.

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