"… a first ballot Hall of Famer on the ice and in life."
The quote above was from a mutual friend in reference to Jim Canty, who passed away in late April. If you’re racking your brain for memories of Jim’s professional career (“Wasn’t he on the ‘84 Nordiques?") you can stop now. Jim’s illustrious 22-year career was with Hippy Hockey, the Sunday night skate at the local rink.
It would only be partially accurate to characterize Hippy Hockey as a bunch of old guys reliving their glory days on the ice – many of us never had glory days to relive. Jim loved hockey. Like myself Jim came to Hippy Hockey via pond hockey, and enjoyed the magic of skating, the friendly competition and a beer or two in the parking lot afterward. In the summer Jim would bring fresh clams from the Cape and cook them up.
Jim and I initially connected through our kids. My two older kids were similar ages to the middle two of Jim’s four kids, and intersected in everything from play dates to confirmation to hockey games. We coached hockey together one year when the boys were young.
Jim was, at his inner core, a family man. I’d seen Jim in his husband/father role, but his family says it started early on with his parents and 8 brothers and sisters. When Jim and I saw each other we always caught up on how each other’s kids were doing. When some people talk about their kids and their accomplishments it comes across as bragging, partly about the kids, but often more about how great of a parent they are. With Jim it was different. He spoke with a sense of selfless wonderment and joy. I wish I could describe it better, but if you’d had the chance to talk to Jim you’d get it.
Professionally Jim was an lawyer and investor, so there was little overlap with my tech world. We did, however, interact about some of the energy investments he was looking at. I’d try to help out with some technical perspective, or tap into some of the science talent at work to analyze some startup’s claims. Over time I came to realize that Jim and I shared a similar optimism about human potential. Sure there’s lots of problems in the world, but there’s also a lot of smart, hard-working people, and humanity has the potential to overcome its challenges.
I wasn’t the only one who noticed this about Jim. At his memorial service a Franciscan monk made a connection between Jim’s optimism and the optimism at the core of Franciscan values. Jim had strong connections to the Franciscans, a Catholic religious order who follow the teachings of St. Francis of Assisi, with roots back to Jim’s college days at St. Bonaventure.
I’ll close with a statement from the Siena College mission/vision page, since it describes so well for me how I saw Jim live his life:
In our Franciscan community, optimism is a faith-filled affirmation of the basic goodness of life and of all men and women because, in the words of St. Francis, God our Creator is “good, all good, supremely good.” So:
be open to the future.
May God bless Jim and his family.