Talks to Dominique Paul October 2000

Curt Bowen joined the Storm this season after his first year in British ice hockey spent with the Nottingham Panthers. The move to Manchester seems to be a happy one – apart from the weather! Curt reckons that Nottingham has more sun than the North West, but is really enjoying living here.

There are he says definite differences in the two set-ups. Our arena is larger and so is the squad compared to the previous Nottingham team. “Last year we only had 13 guys on the bench, that kinda made it hard! I like the way the Storm operates. This is a very professional organisation right through to the locker room. I like it here.”

He feels our team are getting things together, as there have been some big changes for many of them. “For a lot of guys it’s the first time playing over in Europe so it takes time to adjust, maybe a month or so before you start feeling comfortable. It took me a while last year but now I enjoy being over here.”

The changes from year to year are something every hockey player gets used to but it is good to meet up with old friends again. Curt already knew Troy Neumeier from playing together in the minor leagues and they share a common affliction – injured shoulders! “I had shoulder surgery when I was eighteen and dislocated the other one as well, but they’re pretty good now. I got cuts and scrapes and stuff, but no different than any other player.”

When he’s out on the ice Curt doesn’t think about the dangers of being a physical player in a very physical game. “When you grow up in this sport you don’t even think of it, I guess. You just go out to do your job and the threat of injury can be a part of that job”

Curt started skating back home in Ontario at around three years old on the outdoor pad across the road from his house. His earliest memory of a great win was in the All Ontario Pee Wee Championships. “ We barely had enough players in my home town to make up a team. It was a big thing for us to win a provincial championship and the earliest memory I have of achievement.” He went on to play for the Canada International Team in the World Junior Championships when he was 19 and around the same time had a lifetime goal realised when he was selected in the first round draft for Detroit in 1992. “For every young hockey player it’s a dream to be involved in the NHL. I signed a five year deal with them and played in their farm system for a couple of years.”

Here in Britain it is much harder for our home grown talent to get on and this is a concern for many of the players. Curt recognises this and puts much of it down to ice time and expense. The kids come to watch their heroes play for the Storm but then have difficulty emulating them when they go home. “Back home I live in a city of 20,000 people and we have two indoor ice arenas and probably 10 outdoor rinks in winter time. The hardest thing here must be to get on the ice, and that’s how you develop.”

Playing with the Manchester Storm is another chapter in Curt’s career. “It’s a good opportunity to play over here and the Superleague is a very good league, it’s getting better every year. I’d say it’s 25% better than last season and there are a lot of good players here. I always want to win, that’s my main objective with the Storm. I don’t like losing – I don’t know many guys who do! Any coach will be hard on you when you lose; Terry’s no different! We get a pat on the back when we win and pay for it when we lose! The most important aspect of playing nowadays is to constantly improve but have a good time too. When you’re always striving for something you’ve got to make sure you take the time to enjoy the game. It’s the best job in the world. I wouldn’t want to do anything else.”

Whilst Curt takes life a day at a time and says he lives for the moment, he has some idea of the direction he may go in the future after hockey. At the moment he is taking his Canadian Securities course, which sees him dabbling in the world of high finance. This will eventually give him a license maybe to become a stockbroker or financial adviser. “I’m not sure what field I’ll go into. I’m taking the course right now because that’s what I’m interested in at the moment but I plan to play hockey for several years yet.”

Dominique Paul (c) 2000AD.