If hockey doesn’t work out for Cody Donaghey, don’t expect to see him following in his father’s footsteps in show business. As a first-year defenceman with the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies, his first official bus trip with the team included stint on “Rookie Idol” in which he performed an Eminem song.
“That’s was something,” said the native of St. John’s, Nfld. “I’m not meant to be a singer.
“Oh, it was bad. They were surprised I couldn’t sing.”
They were surprised because his father, Gregory Donaghey, was the lead singer of the Carlton Showband, a Juno award-winning Celtic-Canadian group in the 1960s and ‘70s. The elder Donaghey also topped the music charts in his native Ireland with the song “More Than Yesterday”.
“I can’t believe that,” said the younger Donaghey. “It’s crazy. Hearing people now who are No.1 and knowing that dad was like that over in Ireland – it’s wild.”
The Carlton Showband were regulars on the TV show The Pig and Whistle – a variety show on CTV – and recently went on a reunion tour, meaning that Cody and his brother Connor could finally see their dad performing in front of thousands of people during their stop in St. John’s.
“It was awesome,” said Donaghey. “He’s always signing a song (at home), so I’m used to seeing him sing all the time. But it was a good experience.”
And there should be many more of those good experiences on the way for the blueliner in his first QMJHL season. Donaghey was the first-round pick of the Huskies – 14th overall – in the summer’s QMJHL draft.
“We really like his offensive ability, he can move the puck really well and he has a good shot,” said Rouyn-Noranda head coach and GM Andre Tourigny. “He’s physical and he’s got good size. For someone who is 16 years old he’s pretty mature, but we still have to work on his game to get him to another level.”
Donaghey said he hasn’t set any personal goals for himself outside of trying to make a smooth transition into the QMJHL.
“I’m hoping to do big things,” said Donaghey, who played on the Team Atlantic U-17 squad last winter. “I know the coaches are expecting a lot out of me.”
So far, he’s impressed.
On Friday night in an exhibition game against the OHL’s Kitchener Rangers, the 6-foot, 180-pound defender did not look out of place, moving the puck calmly and confidently, despite facing his first real test with the Huskies. Off the ice, he’s equally affable and unfazed by the attention – the latter is sometimes hard to come by when dealing first-year players.
“For me, it was impressive because he only had one practice and one morning skate under his belt,” said Tourigny, who will serve as an assistant coach for Canada’s world junior team this year. “He played against the Kitchener Rangers with a full lineup and he faced some really good players. He did great.”
Donaghey joined the Huskies late in the week because he had returned home to St. John’s to make sure the credits for his schooling in Rouyn-Noranda would be properly transferred back home at the end of the season.
“My mom is a professor, so school is a big thing,” said Donaghey. “That’s why it was so important for me to make sure I got the right schooling here in Rouyn.”
His mother, Caroline, teaches biblical studies in the theology department at Memorial University.
“I don’t know how she does that stuff because I don’t find it interesting at all,” said Donaghey with a laugh. “She loves it.”
In addition to a new school, it will also be the first time Donaghey will be living away from home. Luckily, he’ll be billeting with a familiar face in teammate Marcus Power – who also happens to be his neighbour in St. John’s. Power, entering his third season with the Huskies, was able to tell Donaghey about what to expect living in the small Quebec city – population 41,000 – after he was drafted.
“He’s one of my best buddies at home, so he was telling me all about it,” said Donaghey. “He said it’s a lot nicer than people say it is. … I love it there, it’s actually really nice.
“They get a lot of snow and it’s the same in Newfoundland, so I’m prepared for that.”
He’s also familiar with the league having been a fan of the short-lived St. John’s Fog Devils before the team folded and moved to Montreal in 2008. His favourite player? Defenceman T.J. Brennan, the QMJHL’s top rookie defenceman in 2007.
“I used to be down there all the time when I was a little kid to watch the Fog Devils,” said the rookie. “It’s a lot to take in that I’m playing in that league now. It’s awesome.”