Howson's Father's Day
GM remembers lessons learned from his dad
Scott Howson was just seven years old when he learned one of the most important lessons of his life. The Jackets' GM recalls returning home from a hockey game that his team had just lost 2-1. Young Scott wasn't that upset. He pointed out to his father Richard Howson that he had indeed scored the lone goal for his team, so all wasn't lost.
That's not how the Howson patriarch viewed it.
"He quickly straightened me out and my attitude that the goal wasn't the important thing," Howson, now 50, says as Father's Day approaches. "He emphasized to me that this is a team sport and I think that's the greatest value of hockey and other team sports, is that you learn to be part of a group and you learn to sacrifice your own goals for the good of the team.
"He certainly believed that."
Richard Howson continued to be a big influence in the life of Scott, one of four boys in the house, all of whom played hockey. Richard was a chartered accountant by trade but in his collegiate days, suited up for the University of Toronto hockey team. Howson's mom Alma also played so it was a natural for Scott and his brothers be introduced to the game early in their lives.
Never overbearing and always supportive, Richard was a great teacher for the Howson boys on the ice. But the lessons continued off of it, as well. Howson wasn't going to be denied a career in the game. He rose through the ranks, captaining the Ontario Hockey League's Kingston Canadiens, playing for the International Hockey League's Toledo Goaldiggers and then the Indianapolis Checkers of the Central Hockey League before ultimately making his NHL debut with the New York Islanders in the 1984-85 season.
Richard was in the rink on Long Island for the second NHL game of Scott's career, against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Despite seeing his son's successes first hand, the elder Howson still insisted Scott continue his schooling.
"He was very determined to make sure I didn't let my education go and I didn't," says Howson, who completed a bachelor's degree at York University in 1987 before finishing law school at the York's prestigious Osgoode Hall. "I went to school during the summers of my pro career.
"I was grateful that he emphasized that."
Richard was able to provide his son with the tools needed to be a success and Howson is now in the same position as a father of three, son Max and daughters Rebekah and Joanna.
"You try to make sure they feel loved, which is the most important thing," Howson says of his children. "You have to give them the time when they need the time and you give them the guidance and the direction to make sure they have sound fundamental values.
"It's an opportunity to really love and connect with somebody and help them and watch them grow. We all make mistakes, we make them as parents but you live through them and you get better. You hope that you've taught them what's really important."
Like Richard, Scott has been big on showing the value of being part of a team. Max plays hockey with a traveling squad and the girls are serious about their soccer, among other activities. The GM's hectic schedule can take him away from home often so Mom Antoinette plays a big role in getting the trio to their events.
Howson likes that they are getting real-life examples of how to handle themselves in different situations.
"Team sports are a great vehicle," he says. "The life skills of unselfishness, commitment, hard work, all those things so any time you get an opportunity to impart that knowledge, you do it. I try and do that with all my kids."
Sunday, Howson will be thinking about the knowledge he has gained from his father. The two speak a few times a month but the Columbus boss will definitely be making a call on Father's Day. There is a little less advice passed on when they do touch base and certainly no need for a lecture on how scoring a goal doesn't mean a thing if you lost the game.
"He's very interested in the Blue Jackets," Howson says, "So we talk a lot about that and what's going on with his life."