Catching Up with Shawn Germain
Member of Inagural Reign squad just as busy after hockey
by Kevin Slusarski, Reign PR Intern
ONTARIO, Calif. - The first time Shawn Germain thought about leaving hockey was in 2010 after undergoing surgery to repair a broken wrist. However, the competitor inside gnawed at him. “The more that sat with me the more I didn't like it,” Germain said. “I didn’t want to end my career on an injury.”
The defenseman returned to play 43 games with the Reign in the 2010-11 season, registering 14 points (4g, 10a) and was called up to the Manchester Monarchs for the playoffs. It was a season to be proud of. “Just the way it all ended last year with such a great group of guys and the good season I had personally,” he said. “I felt it was a great way to end my career.”
The 29-year-old returned to the Edmonton, Alberta area where much of his family still live. His parents, Mitch and Delia, and brother Lance are in St. Paul, the small town in which he grew up. His sister Alicia and her husband Cody moved to nearby Sherwood Park. Germain is happy to be back home. “I really enjoy being a lot closer to my family,” he said. “It's been awesome. I missed it a lot. I didn't realize how much I missed it until I was here.”
For some players, the transition out of the game can be difficult. “I think that's the biggest thing for hockey players,” Germain said. “If you're ready to end your career and you can find something that you're really going to enjoy, it makes it a lot easier.” And, fortunately for Germain, he left hockey with a plan – to be a firefighter.
The fire service runs in Germain’s family. His grandfather was the St. Paul Fire Chief for 25 years, his uncle was a deputy chief, and his father was a volunteer firefighter. He remembers his grandfather’s bronzed helmet displayed proudly at his grandparents’ house and visiting the station as a kid.
As in many areas, becoming a firefighter is a competitive process. Germain applied for the Edmonton Fire academy and made the eligibility list. “They’re not sure how many people they’re going to take, so I’m not sure if I’ll be high enough on the list to get in this time around,” said Germain. “So it’s kind of a waiting game right now.” However, he’s excited at the prospect of working for a fire department he considers one of the best in the world.
The adrenaline rush of going on calls, the team atmosphere, and camaraderie among the firefighters remind Germain of being part of a hockey team and he believes they’re some of the reasons so many hockey players are drawn to the fire service. At one recent station assessment, former Edmonton Oilers defenseman Chris Joseph jumped on the rig. Joseph played over 500 NHL games and was now a member of Edmonton Fire.
While he waits to find out if he’ll be attending the academy, Germain works for an Edmonton gas company reading meters at industrial facilities and has considered working with his brother on a line crew for the power company. His first love, though, is the fire service and he’s determined to earn a spot at the academy.
Germain did suffer a setback several months ago when a fire destroyed the apartment building in which he lived. He lost everything. “You don’t expect something like that to happen to you,” he said. “I’m a pretty lucky guy to have all the family and friends who gathered around me and helped me through it because it was a tough time, for sure.”
One of those who reached out to Germain was the man he played under for five ECHL seasons in Reading and Ontario; former Reign head coach Karl Taylor. “He helped out a lot when I was going through the whole apartment fire thing,” said Germain. “He’s been a huge part of both my hockey career and my life. He was a major influence.”
While he looks for a place, Germain’s been living with his sister, brother-in-law, and their new baby girl Paisley. The first-time uncle has been helping to take care of Paisley – changing dirty diapers and all – and was proud to have had his first solo babysitting mission a couple of weeks ago. “I’m definitely trying to make a run at the uncle-of-the-year sweepstakes,” he joked.
While Germain is content to have left professional hockey, he found he can’t get the game completely out of his blood and joined former Reign teammates Chad Starling and Denny Johnston in the Canadian AAA senior league. What would you expect of a guy who loves the sport so much that after breaking his ankle as a kid, secretly removed his cast early and shoveled off a ten-by-ten patch of ice on the lake behind his house to prove he could skate because he didn’t want to sit out of the playoffs? Their team, the Rosetown Red Wings, is on a playoff run in the Saskatchewan Division and hope to compete in the Allan Cup finals later this year.
But why stop at hockey? Germain also plays softball for the Alberta Oilmen and will be traveling to London, Ontario to play in Nationals this August. “I’ve kind of been able to fill that competitor role and camaraderie role,” he said.
And while Germain no longer has the luxury of catching an afternoon tee time virtually any day of the year, he does like to spend time fishing with his dad, working out, and hitting a few balls at the indoor batting cages.
Germain has fond memories of his years in Ontario. “I can’t even describe it,” he said. “The fans were so great, and we were treated like real pros.” He also feels privileged to have played with a lot of great players.
Reign defenseman Jason Fredricks remembers Germain as a really nice person with a strong work ethic and a good heart who helped him transition to the Reign system after being traded to Ontario half way through the 2010-11 season. “He’s just an all-around good guy,” he said.
Former Reign captain Jon Francisco, who himself pursued a career as a firefighter after finishing his hockey career, called Germain a great hockey player and as good a teammate as you could ever ask for. “He was a dedicated athlete and presented himself as a pro every day,” he added.
Germain’s best memory is of the 2009 playoff run in the Reign’s Inaugural Season in which he scored the Reign’s first-ever playoff goal and the game-winning goal in a 4-3 win over the Stockton Thunder. “Those are the kinds of things you never forget,” he said.
Germain had planned to come to Ontario to say hi to his fans the night his bobblehead was given away, but between the fire and his busy schedule he just wasn’t able to make it happen.
Germain considers himself fortunate. He played pro hockey for a living and was able to leave in good health and on his own terms, he’s on track to achieve his dream of joining the fire service, and he’s surrounded by friends and family. “I really lucked out,” he said.