Steen Sr. tosses his hat in ring

 

Thomas Steen fought more than a few battles during his 14-season National Hockey League career with the Winnipeg Jets.

 
 
 
 
 

Thomas Steen fought more than a few battles during his 14-season National Hockey League career with the Winnipeg Jets.

Now, he's thrown his hat into a game that's just as rough as hockey, only dirtier.

Politics.

Steen, 48, a Jets captain from 1984-91, is running for the Conservatives in Tuesday's federal election, standing in the Winnipeg riding of Elmwood-Transcona.

A couple of former NHLers, Bobby Hull and Dale Hawerchuk, are working with Steen on his campaign, while from afar, he knows he can count on the support of one current NHL player.

That would be Steen's son Alex, a centre with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

"It will be a big challenge for him," Alex Steen said. "That's why he's gone into it."

The younger Steen admitted that while preparing for the NHL season, he's had little time to bone up on the issues his father is facing during this election campaign.

"I'm not too involved in it, but obviously, I support him as a son," Steen said

From their discussions, Alex knows one thing for certain -- Thomas didn't take on this daunting task without first doing his homework.

"He approached me with (the idea) last year," Alex Steen said. "Then he kind of pulled out. He wasn't sure if that was what he wanted to do.

"Then they approached him again this year with the same idea. It just seems like he's more aware now. He knows more about the situation in politics in Canada. I think he's just more comfortable with the whole process."

Thomas Steen originally came to Canada from his native Sweden to play for the Jets in 1981.

A five-time 20-goal scorer who was selected to participate in the 1990 NHL All-Star Game, the Jets retired Steen's No. 25 sweater in 1994, making him the first Swedish NHLer to be so honoured.

Thomas and Alex were also the first Swedish father-son combination to both score NHL goals.

After retiring from the game, Steen opted to make Winnipeg his permanent home and became a Canadian citizen. He resigned from his position as a pro scout with the Phoenix Coyotes to run for the Tories in the upcoming election.

TOUGH TASK

Steen faces a tough task to win Tuesday in what has traditionally been NDP territory. Bill Blaikie, the MP who held the seat since 1979, retired before the current campaign was launched.

If Thomas is looking for advice on overcoming the odds, perhaps he should call Alex.

Thursday, the Leafs downed the defending Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings 3-2. Tonight, Toronto plays its home opener against the Montreal Canadiens, a team many pundits believe will be beasts of the East in 2008-09.

An elected Steen would continue a long-standing tradition of NHL members of parliament, including former Canadiens netminder Ken Dryden, the current Liberal MP for York Centre.

Red Kelly skated for the Leafs while he was elected MP for York West in 1962, just as Howie Meeker did when he gained the mandate as MP for Waterloo South in 1951. Lionel Conacher was voted Canada's athlete of the half century in 1950, one year after he was elected as MP for the Toronto Trinity riding.

Alex Steen isn't surprised that so many NHLers view politics as an outlet for their competitive juices.

"After your career is done, you're always looking for something to do, something you enjoy doing," he said. "I think for my father, it's something he enjoys - helping people, helping his city. And hopefully, doing something for the country."

And just maybe, like the Leafs did Thursday, pulling off the upset.

 
 
 
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