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An NHL legend visited Portage la Prairie today: Hall of Fame defenceman Paul Coffey.

Coffey was the keynote speaker for the fourth annual BASF Knowledge Harvest at Canad Inns, which attracted close to 400 agricultural producers from across the Canadian Prairies to discuss agronomic information and strategies to help improve production yield and quality.

Coffey, 55, played for nine teams — most notably as a member of the Edmonton Oilers dynasty in the 1980s — and won four Stanley Cups over his 21-year career from 1980-2001. He shared stories from his NHL playing days and spoke to the dedication and hard work necessary to succeed in sport.

BASF organizers say that's a major reason why they invited the NHL great to speak: There's a lot of parallels between the hard work it takes to succeed in hockey and the hard work it takes to succeed in farming.

“I think there's definitely a lot of parallels,” says Coffey. “I actually think the farmers work harder than the hockey guys. We work real, real hard, especially to sustain a long career. But what those farmers go through day-in and day-out is pretty impressive.”

“The part I love the most about it is the generational part of it,” continues Coffey. “Kids are coming up to do what their dad's, dad's, dad did. That's so important and you don't see a lot of that in today's world.”

BASF technical marketing specialist Glen Foster: “Paul really provides that message about how to strive to be the best. And (that's something) you can have be part of your farming organization.”

Jesse Bernard, who works for Richardson Pioneer out of Antler, Sask., travelled to the conference to hear about BASF's pesticide-use strategies. He says Coffey's words connected with him.

“You need the work ethic in farming to make things happen, and with hockey it's the same thing,” Bernard says. “Paul definitely did a good job speaking to us today about hard work. And it was great to meet him. He seems like a down to earth guy and you can tell from his career, he put a lot of work into it.”

Agricultural topics discussed at the Knowledge Harvest include: resistance management, and maximizing cereal production and canola production through the use of fungicides and herbicides.

FIRST VISIT TO PORTAGE

Coffey, from Toronto, Ont., was visiting Portage la Prairie for the first time. He came away with a good first impression.

“I've been to small towns in Manitoba before and I've heard of Portage,” he says. “It's great. In these communities, it's the people that make it.”

“(Whether it's) a small community or big community, it's all about keeping the people tight and friendly and pulling together in the right direction.”

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Stride Place. New Name ... Same Great Place!

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