Usually, contracting mono has no upside. Especially to a 20-year-old Ontario Hockey League defenceman chasing his dream of winning a Memorial Cup.
But for London Knights’ Brady Austin, there has been nothing in the way of normalcy in his life the past few weeks.
First, on April 1, he was diagnosed with mono and he has not played a minute of any game since that day.
And then on April 9, his father, Steve Austin, passed away at the age of 56, with cancer the culprit.
“Having mono, I was able to go home for a week or two and spend some time with my dad,” Austin said before Knights’ practice Tuesday.
“It was really special that way, but at the same time, it’s not feeling good to be out of the playoffs. But we’ve got our goal and we’re ready to work for it.
“It was kind of like a blessing in disguise for me and my family talked about that.”
With Austin out with mono and fellow defenceman Zach Bell out with a broken leg, the Knights were overmatched against Guelph Storm in the OHL conference semifinal and were eliminated in five games.
Now as host team, they now must wait for three league champions to join them in the four-team Memorial Cup beginning May 16 in London.
Austin was back on the ice for the first time Tuesday with the Knights, albeit minus full contact. He said he will be ready for May 16. In the meantime, he wanted to thank everyone for the huge support he has received.
But the best show of support came from the Knights themselves.
Knights’ assistant coach Dylan Hunter said the coaches had decided to drive to Bobcaygeon, Ont., for the Steve Austin visitation when a knock came on the door.
It was captain Chris Tierney with a message: The players wanted to go as well. The team bus was called in to assist.
“I knew he was pretty happy the guys came up and it was a tough couple of weeks for him, so anything we could do for him to support him we did,” Hunter said.