Sports community mourns loss of 'true leader'

Drew Power, 31, of Charlottetown perished in house fire on Kent Street on Sunday

Dave Stewart dstewart@theguardian.pe.ca
Published on December 17, 2012

Drew Power was described Monday as a true leader, someone who went out of his way to make people feel better about themselves.

The sports community on Prince Edward Island is struggling with Sunday's death of the 31-year-old Charlottetown resident.

Power was pronounced dead at the scene of a fire in his home on Kent Street. The preliminary post-mortem examination results indicate he died of smoke inhalation. The fire was called in at 2:54 p.m. Sunday.

Tim Mayme, Charlottetown's deputy fire chief, says the fire originated in the kitchen. Further details will be released when they get results back from the autopsy.

"It's hard to talk about,'' said an emotional Kenny MacDougall, who coached Power with the Summerside IceFox senior hockey team. "He was the type of person who made people feel like they mattered and he took the time to tell people things that were important.

"That was the biggest lesson that I'll take from my time with him,'' MacDougall said, struggling with his composure.

Power played with the now-defunct Charlottetown Abbies of the Maritime Junior Hockey League from 1999 to 2002. He also suited up with the UPEI men's hockey Panthers in 2002-03.

Gordie Whitlock, who coached him during his time with the Abbies and Panthers, said only his skating ability kept Power from making an impact as a professional.

"I am close to the (Power) family so this hits home a bit more. He was a gifted athlete, not just in hockey, but in baseball and golf as well,'' Whitlock said Monday.

"I saw him develop as a player and as a person. His dad died early in his life and it was a tremendous challenge for him but he got through it. He was just a good guy who had a lot of friends.''

Lynn Palmer, co-owner of the Charlottetown Crunch senior hockey team Power served as captain on, said grief counsellors have been brought in to help teammates cope.

"He was beyond instrumental in getting (the team) going from the start. When the team was being formed it wasn't even up for discussion who the captain was going to be,'' Palmer said. "He was amazing. The best leader anybody could have. He really was born with the 'C' on his heart.''

Jeff Squires, who coached Power briefly with the Abbies, said "he was a solid guy and a good example for the young guys. I'm just struggling to get my head around it.''

Mike James, general manager with the Abbies, said Power was an unbelievable kid.

"Listen, this kid was great to coach, a great kid to play. He led by example,'' James said.

Power had just graduated last year from the Atlantic Police Academy.

Paul Smith, police chief with Charlottetown Police Services, said Power worked with city police during his on-the-job training in 2011 and worked with the force again last summer.

"He was a well-known, well-liked individual in the community,'' Smith said. "This is a terrible tragedy. Our thoughts go out to his family and friends.''

Power served as assistant coach of Holland College's men's hockey team last year.

Albert Roche, athletic director at Holland College, said Power saw the value in giving back to sport and community.

"Drew has made a lasting impact on many young players here at Holland College,'' Roche said.

Clement Arsenault, a teammate of Power's with the Abbies and Panthers, called The Guardian on Monday from his home in Edmonton, Alta., to offer his condolences.

Arsenault said he and Power grew up together in Sherwood, playing pond hockey in Terry LeClair's backyard as children.

"There were a lot of times I shared with Drew on the outdoor rinks and on the driveways and streets of Sherwood,'' Arsenault said. "From a very young age there were a lot of us who were close in that area and we remained close as we became adults and played junior hockey together and went to university for a short time.

"He was a brother. I grew up with Drew since we were eight years old. I am shocked. You didn't want anybody else on the ice when you were out there. He took care of you; he led the way.''

dstewart@theguardian.pe.ca

Twitter.com/DveStewart