He’s pleased with the achievement, but Gord Thibodeau won’t ever look to the Alberta Junior Hockey League record book for career validation.
Sure, with victory No. 833 on Friday night in Fort McMurray — his Whitecourt Wolverines beat the Oil Barons 2-1 in overtime — Thibodeau edged past legendary Calgary Canucks bench boss Don Phelps into top spot. And Thibodeau has no plans to stop coaching any time soon, provided he also keeps winning his best-of-whatever-it-takes series with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, the cancer he has already beaten four times since 1989.
But whenever Thibodeau speaks of coaching success, he starts with the kids whose careers and lives he influenced, hopefully, in a positive manner. That’s why it was so rewarding to see his phone blow up Friday night.
“Wins or losses, I don’t care,” said the 53-year-old. “It’s about making players better, developing them into quality human beings. Just by the amount of texts I got (Friday) night, there’s a lot of quality human beings I was fortunate to be around. That’s the thing that makes me most proud.”