For MacKenzie Weegar, returning back to Ottawa last week was more than just a homecoming.
The Halifax Mooseheads defenceman had more on his mind than closing out his team’s second-round playoff series against the Gatineau Olympiques.
The experience of returning back to his roots served as an epiphany of sorts for a young man who suddenly realized just how far he’s come over the past couple of years.
“To see my family, teachers, coaches and friends coming out to support me after everything I’ve come through, it was emotional. I feel really lucky,” said MacKenzie.
It’s just been during MacKenzie’s stint with the Mooseheads that his parents Scott and Louise, who divorced eight years ago, have come together in support of their son.
“Mac in his own way has brought us back together,” said Scott.
He holds no hard feelings toward either of his parents, understanding early on that sometimes relationships fall apart and in the end there’s no one to blame.
Weegar, who moved in with another family after the divorce, also knows that both his parents did their best, calling him as much as they could, showing up to as many of his Junior A and B games as possible.
Sitting with his parents just hours before Game 4 against the Gatineau Olympiques last Wednesday, Weegar described his mother as the most important person in his life.
“She’s always been there for me as a single parent with my sister (Emily),” said MacKenzie. “She’s always been the one to pick me up and get me back standing on my feet again.”
Louise simply feels blessed that her son found a way to thrive.
“I think the three of us sitting here and relishing in this moment is pretty surreal,” she said. “He’s got the best mental game of any player on that ice. I’m pretty proud; very proud.”
Scott couldn’t agree more.
“You think, wow, he’s worked so hard, he’s made a commitment, and there’s been lots of travel time and so much practice and preparation on and off the ice.”
There have been other believers too, like one of his earlier coaches Mike Dagenais, who put him on a nutrition program and ensured he made the next step in his career.
He earned his spot on the nation’s top ranked junior team via the waiver system after being passed over in consecutive Ontario Hockey League drafts.
The Mooseheads’ gamble has paid off. During the regular season he was tops in the QMJHL at plus-55, ranked 10th in scoring among both rookies and blueliners with 44 points.
In the meantime he’s managed to heal some old wounds within his family.
“It’s about the four of us, and having some fun with his career as opposed to it being a struggle now,” said Louise.
That’s not something lost on her son.
“I’m proud not just for myself but for my sister too,” said MacKenzie. “We’ve all come a long way.”