We never know what life has in store for any of us. The key is to live every moment in the moment, appreciate the people closest to you, and cherish your health.
Brandon Convery knows this all too well.
Convery was a speedy junior star out of Sudbury who became a top NHL prospect. The Toronto Maple Leafs drafted him 8th overall in 1992.
As a teenager he was living the hockey dream, but stardom did not follow. After a dozen seasons as a pro only played sporadically in the NHL, totalling 72 games with Toronto, Vancouver and LA. He is still considered by many in Toronto to be a draft bust.
“When I think about my time in Toronto, I could write a book,” said Convery, who retired in 2004. “I got there and they wanted me to play like Jeremy Roenick. They had video of him given to me. Jeremy at the time could score and stuff, but he would run around and knock your head off. “I was like, ‘what?’ Now I can laugh at it. But I had a lot of anger over the years.”
“Looking back, I don’t blame anyone but myself,” he said. “But I think certain people who are in their jobs now, it’s up to them to make sure these kids are well-prepared physically and mentally. Especially if you’re going to Toronto, you better be ready.”
Knee and shoulder injuries decimated his career, which he extended by playing in Europe through 2004. He had to retire due to concussions.
But Convery's true calling in life did not come to him until after hockey. In 2010 Convery contracted a virus that almost killed him. Convery recently shared this story on his website:
"I contracted a virus called Viral Myocarditis and it can happen to anyone, I was just the lucky one. What basically happened was all my internal organs were shutting down all at once. My liver, my kidneys, my lungs and yes my heart. By the time I was taken into Cedars in Los Angeles I was in bad shape. My wife was told by the head doctors that it was a good idea to call my family because we don't know if he will make it, it's pretty bad.
"I was forced into an induced coma so my body would rest. They eventually weaned me off to try and have me breathe on my own. If I did survive, the doctors did not know if I would need a heart transplant which meant that I could be in the hospital for months. I was out in four weeks.
"The doctor's today are completely surprised that I did. I had to learn to walk and breathe again. I went to cardiac rehab for the next four months and endured a long road to recovery. Today I am completely 100%. "
Convery also said his physical conditioning as a professional athlete was essential to him surviving this ordeal, as average people rarely recover and often die quickly.
Convery now shares his stories both on the ice and in life as a motivational and high performance coach for young athletes and their parents. Yes, he can help young hockey stars achieve their goals, but he offers a perspective of what really is important in life.