John Goodwin is a good one

December 16, 2014

The former scoring champion now coaches in the league that he used to dominate.

To be sure, he’s a few pounds heavier these days but he still has the baby face and a full head of brown hair with a mere trace of grey.

He’s 53-years old, has been married to a Sault Ste. Marie girl for more than 31 years and he and his bride are grandparents.

He is John Goodwin, who was an Ontario Hockey League superstar with the Soo Greyhounds beginning in 1978.

How good was Goodwin?

As a lowly sixth-round pick from the Wexford Raiders midgets, he went on to win the OHL rookie-of-the-year award in 1978-1979 by scoring 43 goals, 86 assists, 129 points on a Greyhound team that missed the playoffs.

He then followed up his rookie season with 34 goals, 60 assists, 94 points — which was considered a slump by his standards — in 1979-1980.

But the best was yet to come.

Goodwin closed out his OHL career and his days as a Greyhound in style in 1980-1981 by leading the league in scoring with 56 goals, 110 assists, 166 points.

Never drafted into the National Hockey League despite all of his success in the OHL, Goodwin nonetheless went on to a productive career as an American Hockey League centre before retiring at age 26 to settle down in the Oshawa area with his wife — the former Joanne Davey — and raise a family that eventually produced three children.

Both John and Joanne landed jobs with Ontario Power Generation and both retired just over a year ago.

For John, retirement meant a return to the OHL as an assistant coach.

Earlier, over a five-year period — ending in 2000 — Goodwin combined work at OPG with coaching the Oshawa Generals of the OHL. But he eventually walked away from the OHL to concentrate on his position at OPG.

Goodwin had no sooner retired from OPG in 2013 when he landed a position as assistant coach of the OHL’s North Bay Battalion under his old friend and mentor, Stan Butler.

North Bay made it all the way to the OHL championship series in 2013-2014 and Goodwin had three years left on his contract with the Battalion when the assistant coaching position opened up with the Kingston Frontenacs.

Goodwin received permission from Butler and the Battalion to talk to Kingston general manager Doug Gilmour and new head coach Paul McFarland — and a deal was struck with the Frontenacs.

“It was a great situation in North Bay with Stan and the Battalion,” Goodwin relayed in a recent interview. “I got to be a part of the return of the OHL to North Bay.

“But with my first grandchild just born, I started to thinking about coaching closer to home if I could,” Goodwin continued. “When the job opened up in Kingston, Stan was great about letting me talk to the Frontenacs. And when Kingston offered me the job, Stan and the Battalion did not stand in my way.”

Goodwin is excited about coaching in the OHL in this, his second year of retirement from OPG.

“I am blessed to have been able to retire from Ontario Power at a relatively young age and get back to coaching in the OHL,” said Goodwin. “I had a great year in North Bay and now I am just as excited to be in Kingston.”

Goodwin said he and McFarland — who at age 29, is the youngest head coach in the OHL — work well together.

“He is so unbelievably prepared,” Goodwin said of McFarland. “You would never know that he is a rookie head coach in the OHL.”

Goodwin was back in Sault Ste. Marie last week as the Frontenacs played the Greyhounds at the Essar Centre. While born and raised in Scarborough and then working and raising his family in nearby Oshawa, Goodwin still considers the Soo “part of me.

“I came to the Soo as a 17-year old and I played my entire OHL career here,” said Goodwin. “My wife is from here and her parents still live here. I made a lot of friends in the Soo, friends who are still friends to this day.”

The likeable Goodwin, who defines the term “good guy”, said memories of playing for the Greyhounds will never go away.

In particular, he said he has “very fond memories” of his first OHL coach, Paul Theriault.

“Paul believed in me and I loved playing for him,” Goodwin related. “He was way ahead of his time as far as being a new-era coach.”

A genuine person with a warm smile and a firm handshake, Goodwin said he has no regrets about where the game has taken him.

“I got to play three seasons in the Soo and had some success,” he understated. “It was disappointing to never be drafted into the NHL but I played in the AHL and I did okay.

“Most importantly, I married a great girl and we have three great kids and now we are grandparents. And me, I get to live the dream again by coaching in the OHL. I consider myself to be a very lucky man.”

And a good one, too.

PHOTO: John Goodwin is now an assistant coach with the Kingston Frontenacs. (Photo by Ali Pearson.)

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