Doughty, Kadri remember Brad Ostrom’s irreplaceable impact on London hockey

Brad Ostrom (right) pictured with his son Sean (left) and Drew Doughty. (Courtesy Ostrom family)

Drew Doughty calls Brad Ostrom his favourite coach.
Logan Couture calls Ostrom the Brian Kilrea of London, Ont.
Nazem Kadri simply calls Ostrom ahead of his time.
“Brad? He’s The Man. He’s The Guy. You hear the name Brad Ostrom, and your ears perk up. Every time he had a team, it would always win the league,” says Dylan DeMelo. “He’s definitely known and will forever be known in the Junior Knights ranks as one of the best.”
After devoting more than 40 years of his life to coaching minor hockey, propelling more than 100 to the Ontario Hockey League and several to the professional ranks, Brad Ostrom died Monday morning at St. Joseph’s Hospice in London of esophageal cancer, his family informed Sportsnet.
He was 66.
Ostrom is survived by his wife, Becky, and sons Andrew and Sean.
Minor hockey in the London area won’t be the same without him — it wouldn’t have grown into the talent hotbed it is now without him.
For decades, Ostrom poured any spare time his accounting job would allow into working with young hockey players, moulding them into teammates first, winners next.
“He’s my favourite coach,” Doughty said recently, after paying Ostrom an off-season visit at his home. “It sucks that things like that have to happen. It’s so sad, I don’t know what to say. You never want to see anyone go — [especially] a good man like that who helped so many people around him and touched so many people around him.”
Ostrom, most notably, was the man who forced Doughty to switch from forward to defence at age 12. The coach had done the same with NHLer Mike Van Ryn and would later convert power forward Josh Brown, who cracked the Florida Panthers’ blue line this past season.
“He’s meant a ton. He took so much pride in coaching,” said Doughty, a Norris Trophy winner and two-time Stanley Cup champion with the L.A. Kings. “He had his team on the ice more than any other coach in London. Some people thought it was too much — but look at all the guys he developed into OHL stars and future NHLers.”
Ostrom had a reputation for getting parents to track extra statistics for his teams, the most important category being passes. He would reward the player who delivered the most passes with a pack of hockey cards following the game.
He also was known as prepared, demanding and no-nonsense. There was a deep love for the game, for his pupils, and for his own role in developing young men — but it was a tough love.
“My philosophy’s always been: If you do something good, I’ll tell ya’. If you do something bad, I’ll tell ya’,” Ostrom said during an interview last month. “If you’re out there doing stuff that cheats your teammates, why should you play with them?”
Ostrom would cut a 50-goal scorer if the young player refused to be a good teammate, or force the entire team to play with wood sticks and leave their composites at home.
“Brad always took it serious. He knew exactly what he was doing,” Kadri says. “He was known for his toughness and his hard practices. I remember he used to make us do a crabwalk. You’d crawl the length of the ice on your hands and feet, basically like you were a crab.
“He understood how the game worked and where it was going. He was known as one of those coaches who might be able to get you to the next level.”
When Ostrom was diagnosed during 2018-19, his final season behind the bench of the Minor Peewee AAA Elgin-Middlesex Chiefs, his players began sporting orange decals on their helmets that read: “B STRONG B POSITIVE B LIEVE.”
At the Shanahan International tournament in Toronto this past winter, the final group of kids Ostrom coached went head-to-head with a Boston side coached by Jarome Iginla. A championship hanging in the balance, the Chiefs stormed to a commanding lead, 5-2. Some of the Boston players began hacking away. There was a risk of things turning ugly.
“Iginla called his team over and said, ‘We don’t do that s–––,’” Ostrom recalled. “That’s the difference between the guys who played the game and a coach who’s just a recruiter.”
There is a mutual respect among those who have given so much of themselves to the game that can transcend age and fame, life and death.
“Iginla? He’s a nice guy,” Ostrom said. “Autographed the bottom of the trophy for me.”


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