This is the thirty-ninth season of television’s Survivor and something if very different. For the first time ever, a former NHL hockey player is a part of the action. [As well, it’s the first season a Canadian will be in the mix.] I’m not much of a follower of Survivor, but my interest was peaked when I saw that Tom Laidlaw, now 61-years old, was on the CBS “reality” competition.
For those younger hockey fans, here’s some information about Laidlaw. Laidlaw played hockey for the New York Rangers (seven seasons) and Los Angeles Kings (three seasons). He began in 1980 and retired in 1990. After his NHL career was over, he became a commentator for the Kings radio broadcast and started his own sports management company, where he worked as an NHL player agent.
How did Laidlaw get involved in Survivor? Actually, the Amazing Race’s executive producer Jerry Bruckheimer loves hockey and got Laidlaw involved.
As Laidlaw noted, “Jerry Bruckheimer was a big hockey fan and approached the NHL about getting a couple of hockey guys on The Amazing Race. The NHL contacted the Rangers, who contacted me. I’m one of the few alumni who are still in shape. We ultimately didn’t find anyone to be my partner. Eventually, they mentioned Survivor. I watched it early on, but I hadn’t seen it in a while. I started to go back and watch.”
What’s Laidlaw Been Doing?
Recently, Laidlaw has been busy running his sports management company and working as a motivational speaker. His way of looking at life can be wrapped up in the slogan he uses for his talks. He calls it “True Grit Life.”
For Laidlaw, “True Grit Life” is for people who get up every day and go to work six or seven days a week. They’re not stars or celebrities, and no one is writing articles about them, but they’re really important people. He notes that his whole life has been like that. He grew up on a dairy farm outside of Toronto and his family taught him about going to work every day, milking cows and baling hay.
How Will Laidlaw Approach Survivor?
Laidlaw admits that his goal is to win every challenge. He’s also motivated to become the best player who’s ever played. Sounds like a depth hockey player, doesn’t it? Engaging the will to win. It’s like digging a puck out of the corner or killing a penalty.
Laidlaw notes that he’s a proud Canadian and believes that “There’s a lot of pride in Canada, and a lot of that pride is derived from hockey. Canadian people like to compete.” And compete he shall.
As Laidlaw recalls his NHL playing days, “Every team I was on, I was a captain or assistant captain. I was that guy who wasn’t that good of a player but worked hard. I do think there are a lot of similarities. This is much more individual, even at the tribe level. At the same time, everybody can recognize that if we win every challenge, then we’re not voting each other off, knowing full well that we’re all trying to build resumes. That’s part of leadership. You need to understand that you have your goals, but you need to know their dreams and goals, too.”
We aren’t sure how he will do – or actually “has done” – because it’s likely the program is now completed. It’s almost impossible to find Survivor spoilers. However, if his old New York Rangers’ buddy Cam Connor is correct, perhaps Laidlaw has a chance to go a long way.
Connor noted, “Can’t wait to watch Tom Laidlaw, one of the smartest, kindest, genuine people I know and he’s still in top shape. If anyone can win, it’s Tom.” That fits Laidlaw’s true-grit mantra, which is based upon using his life experience to his advantage, leading by example, training his mind to remain calm under pressure, and scoring goals through hard work.
Fans of NHL hockey can watch Laidlaw compete on Survivor on Wednesday evenings on CBS. If last night’s show was any indication, Laidlaw was quiet when he needed to be quiet. He allowed the others to become the drama magnets, and it was easy to see that he skated under everyone’s radar – at least for the first while.
Good strategy, Tom. Good luck with your quest. Perhaps this is a good season to hang out with my family to watch reality TV.
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