It’s hard to find someone in the Red Deer hockey community who doesn’t have a story about Scott Odegard.
Odegard, 57, was a larger-than-life figure, an imposing man with a soft side when needed. Affectionately known as ‘Odie’ around hockey circles, he spent much of his life at the rink – as a player, coach and evaluator.
He passed away suddenly on Jan. 7 and left the hockey family mourning.
“He was the best dad in the world and had all the time for everybody,” said his son Kaare, who played four seasons of NCAA Division I Hockey at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks.
“He seemed to pack a big punch everywhere he went and if you knew him, you knew what he was about. His passion for life and passion for hockey – his passion for life and his friends and family – he was an incredible dad and my sister’s best friend as well.
“You can’t even put into words the loss we feel right now.”
Kaare said he owes everything he’s achieved in hockey to his dad and he helped him become the man he is today.
“He always said there was no substitute for hard work. He was a big fan of playing on the edge and playing physical. Sticking up for yourself and your teammates,” Kaare said.
“You show up and you give it everything you’ve got every time.”
Even eight years ago, when Odegard had a heart attack and Kaare wanted to come home from Alaska, his dad was influential.
Odegard told Kaare to go back to school and while he was there, Kaare helped establish the With All Your Heart foundation, a charity that raised more than $150,000 for the Fairbanks hospital’s cardiac centre.
“I felt pretty helpless, so he told me to go back up to school and start training and doing my thing. I felt pretty helpless, so I ended up starting a charity,” said Kaare, who was nominated twice for the Hockey Humanitarian Award, given to a college hockey player who goes above and beyond to give back.
Red Deer U16AAA North Star Chiefs head coach JD Morrical was also coached by Odegard. Not only was Odie Morrical’s coach when was five-years-old, but the two were also business partners and worked together for nearly a decade.
“He was the greatest guy in the world. He was just there for everybody and anybody. The amount of people that he made feel like they were his best friend is astounding,” Morrical said.
“He was right to the point, you knew exactly what you were getting with him. He had a great way of making you laugh right after.”
Kaare added it’s hard to even fathom how many players Odie helped get to the next level – whether it was junior hockey, the WHL or NHL.
“I’ve got guys from every hockey team I’ve ever played on (reaching out). Guys from minor hockey I haven’t talked to in 20 years, to security guards in college and trainers – you name it they’ve all reached out. You didn’t have to spend much time around Scotty to remember him,” he said.
Morrical and Kaare also coached the Red Deer Vipers in the Heritage Junior B Hockey League for the past six seasons. The duo guided the Vipers from the bench but to be sure, Odegard had a scouting report after every game.
“He was an amazing hockey guy, his mind for the game was outstanding and he was extremely proud of playing Red Deer minor hockey,” Morrical said.
”Extremely proud of his kids and business– of everything. He was just a guy that had fun every single day and he was happy every day.”
Vipers GM Michelle Skilinick said Odegard would do anything for the organization. In 2014-15, the Vipers needed help behind the bench and Odegard stepped up, no questions asked.
“The boys loved him, he was our defence coach. Those guys thought he was great. He just continued to support us throughout the years, came to all the games, helped when we had fundraisers. It’s a huge loss,” she said.
In the later years, Odie spent less time on the bench but you simply couldn’t keep him away for too long.
When the Red Deer Rustlers franchise was reborn in the Senior AA Hockey ranks just a few years ago, they needed a coach and didn’t know where to turn.
Rustlers president and captain Mike Dempster said one name kept coming up. Dempster knew Odie from his minor hockey days but had never had him as a coach. They made the connection and Odegard never missed a Rustlers game in two seasons.
Dempster explained it was huge to have a figure behind the bench that the players all respected. After all, they were adults, just trying to squeeze a few more years out of hockey. Odegard knew what buttons to push even for guys who may have been past their prime. He made it fun and he was more like one of the guys than a coach according to Dempster.
“He just had a passion to win and a passion to have fun and all the guys loved behind around him. He was as much a part of the team as he was the coach,” Dempster said.
Kaare hopes to carry on his father’s legacy in the game and bring along the next generation with the same spirit and gusto that Odie brought to the rink.
“That sense of I want to give back to the community. I want to stay involved and I want to have an impact on these young kids. It obviously runs in the family,” he said.
“I’d like to stay involved and continue on some of the lessons he taught us and made us the men that we are today.”