It’s Brit Selby’s victory lap as both history teacher and coach with North Toronto CI.
The former Toronto Maple Leaf-turned-educator is in his final season as the Norsemen’s man behind the bench.
After a 10-year hockey career split between the National Hockey League and the World Hockey Association, Selby was looking for a new career to skate on.
“I didn’t think I would be very good in the business sector and I had taught at a hockey school, Haliburton Hockey,” he said.
With that experience, it was only natural he would make his way to the classroom.
“I was dealing with kids, so I thought after I got a degree part time at York … I’d get a job teaching,” he said. “Luckily, I got a job that first year.”
Starting at Parkview Secondary School, he moved on to North Toronto Collegiate Institute after Parkview closed in 1982. After 27 years at North Toronto, Selby is retiring in June.
Knowing he couldn’t leave his hockey past behind him — left wing for the St. Louis Blues, Philadelphia Flyers, Quebec Nordiques and New England Whalers, and winner of the Calder Memorial Trophy — Selby took up coaching the school hockey team.
Fellow coach John Taylor is glad he did.
“He’s a terrific guy and it’s been nice just to recognize all the work he’s done in the school and also with the hockey team,” he said. “With his background, it’s amazing when you go around to the arenas with him how people say, ‘The Brit Selby’.”
Taylor recalled a North Toronto playoff moment where the team was favoured against the Forest Hill, but the boys stalled on the ice.
Head Coach Selby’s response was light-hearted and comical.
“We barely got the puck out of our own zone,” Taylor said. “We were down a couple of goals after the first period and (Selby) called the guys over and said, ‘Guys, I think our strategy is working. We are wearing them out in our own zone’.”
His sense of humour is evident even in chatting about his accomplishments at North Toronto.
“As far as victories, I won the Tier 2 championship years ago, and then about four or five years ago we won the South division championship in overtime against East York,” he said. “If my career depended on victories, I probably wouldn’t be a coach this morning.”
Warm wit is something that translates well to the kids he coaches, especially those not apt to pick up the idiosyncrasies of the game.
“The game is so fast that it’s very difficult to follow sometimes on the ice the flow of the game,” he said. “Really good players can see the flow, but for the average player it’s difficult.
“You try to create an atmosphere or environment where they’re not afraid to make mistakes and they’ll be positive towards themselves and each other.”
By no means is his retirement from both the classroom and the bench a denouement, as the 64-year-old looks to spend a little time with his family including his mom, wife, three children and two grandchildren.
“I’ve always said, ‘Life won’t get better, it just gets different,” he said, with a smile.
About this article: