By Nick Greenizan
Growing up, Chase McInnis didn’t see any of his father Marty’s National Hockey League games – none that he can remember anyway, considering the elder McInnis retired from a 12-year pro career when his son was only two years old.
Now, the roles are reversed, with Marty unable to see Chase play live, though this time it’s solely due to distance, with Chase skating in his first season in the BC Hockey League with the Victoria Grizzlies and his dad back home in Boston, where he is an assistant coach with Boston College’s men’s hockey program.
While he may not be able to catch every game, Marty still stays as up-to-date as ever on his son’s junior hockey career — he just has to stay up a little late in order to do it.
“We talk every day,” said Marty. “After the games too. Sometimes it makes it tough with the time difference, but he’ll still call at 12:30 or 1 o’clock in the morning my time and we’ll talk about the game.”
Chase, meanwhile, says much of what he knows of his dad’s career – which included playing for Team USA in the 1992 Olympics in Albertville, France – he learned through stories as well as YouTube.
“I’ve seen a lot of clips of him,” Chase said.
Marty played three years at Boston College, and was drafted by the New York Islanders in the eighth round of the 1988 NHL Entry Draft. Rather than turn pro immediately, he kept his amateur status in order to play on the U.S. Olympic team that finished fourth, and included a slew of future NHLers like Keith Tkachuk, Joe Sacco, Ted Drury, Bret Hedican and Scott Lachance, among others.
After the Olympics, Marty began his NHL career on Long Island, and after stops in Calgary, Anaheim – where Chase was born – and Boston, he eventually retired after the 2002-03 season with 170 goals and 420 career points in 796 games.
Since retiring, he’s turned to coaching; he’s in his seventh year behind the bench with BC. He also coached both Chase and his oldest son Luke in their youth-hockey days.
“I was lucky to coach them for a long time. I miss it,” he said.
And though he obviously shares plenty of hockey DNA with his dad – as does Luke, who is currently a senior defenceman with Boston College – Chase, a 5-foot-10 forward, said he doesn’t see a ton of similarities between his own game and his father’s.
“Sometimes, I’m sure he sees some similarities out there, but I think we’re a little bit different,” he said. “He was a really skilled forward.”
Marty agreed with his son that it’s difficult to compare their games, though it’s because the 18-year-old Chase is so much more advanced than he was at the same age.
“He certainly works a lot harder than I did and he’s a better skater than I was,” Marty said. “He probably shoots better than me too.”
Marty said he never pushed either of his sons to play hockey. Chase also played field lacrosse and baseball as a youngster, but he was a bit of a rink rat growing up and was constantly on the ice with his older brother.
While it was easy for Marty to balance the coach-parent relationship (“At the end of the day, I’m a dad and that’s the most important thing,” he said), Chase still takes to heart some of his dad’s best hockey advice.
“Always work your hardest and try to be the best teammate you can be.”
Chase eventually came west to Victoria, where he is teammates with another player, Stephen Konroyd, whose father (Steve) had a long NHL career.
So far this season, Chase has three goals and four assists in 22 games with the Grizzlies.
“I love it in Victoria,” he said. “I love the city, the team – it’s a great group of guys here. I don’t think I’d want to play anywhere else right now.”
Prior to joining the Grizzlies, Chase played prep hockey for Dexter Southfield School in Brookline, Mass. On the prep circuit he racked up well over a point-per-game and attracted the attention of NCAA schools, specifically Northeastern University in Boston where he is committed to play the 2020-21 season.
“One of our rivals,” said Marty. “It’s okay though. It’s 100 per cent okay. I’m happy if he’s happy. They liked him very early on, and I told him, ‘Go where they like you and where you’re going to get a good opportunity.’
“I’m thrilled for him.”
With Luke set to graduate from the NCAA this year, Chase won’t get the opportunity to line up across from his brother on the ice and even though he will soon be playing against his dad’s team, it’s not likely the post-game phone calls will stop.
“I hope he likes (our conversations),” Marty said. “He keeps calling, so he must.”