It was a trip down memory lane for me recently when I reconnected with Tony Fiore, whom I first met almost 40 years ago when I was covering the Montreal Junior Canadiens at the old Paul Sauve Arena. That season he scored 50 goals, added 51 assist and was selected 163rd overall in the NHL entry draft by the Boston Bruins in 1982.
Tony and his wife Mary Vigliotti, have called Chomedey home for many years. It is here where they raised sons Giovanni, himself a professional hockey player and Luca, a civil engineer.
Tony had an outstanding rookie year with the Flint Generals, scoring 66 goals and adding 44 assists. That was enough to earn him 1983 IHL Rookie of the Year honours. He ended up playing most of his pro career in Italy.
These days Tony works for Quartexx Management, a global agency owned by the Saputo family and dedicated to helping professional athletes and their families achieve lifelong success. They have clients around the world. One of Tony’s clients is son Giovanni, who had a solid junior hockey career and was drafted by the Anaheim Ducks of the NHL. He did get to play one game in the 2017-18 season. Tony and his wife flew down to see this once in a lifetime experience. “It was very special,” he said.
Giovanni is now playing in Germany for the Berlin Polar Bears. In a 2019 interview with Mark Binetti when he was playing in the minors for the Rapid City Rush, Giovanni said: “In Canada, everyone plays hockey when they’re younger. I played because of my dad when I was younger, but also played soccer too. I eventually stuck with hockey because I was really good at it. He always told me to have fun and work hard, which I think every child gets from their dad when they play a sport at a younger age. That continued as I got older and turned into a pro. He constantly reminded me to work hard every day, and that it would pay off eventually.”
Regarding his dad, Giovanni emphasized: “My dad went down that road and had a good, long, and successful career. He didn’t play in the NHL, so I’m sure he learned some things that he might look back on and say ‘I wish I had done it like that’, so it’s been great for me to feed off of what he knows.
“Since my dad was all over the map, I have contacts and know people all around, which has been great to have in my career,” Giovanni mentioned.
On that NHL debut on October 7, 2017 against the Philadelphia Flyers he said: “I was excited, obviously. It’s the NHL. At the same time, I felt ready. I wanted to make a good first impression and start off on the right foot. I wasn’t focusing on the fact that it was my first NHL game. Even though it’s in the back of your head, it’s not the only thing you think about. You want to work hard and be the best you can be. I played in a bunch of preseason games with the Ducks leading up to that point, so I felt comfortable with the group of guys there and was already in the beat, so to speak. I don’t necessarily want to say it was like a preseason game, but it was similar, except that the game counted for two points in the standings.”
Asked what he would never forget from the experience, he joked: “I iced the puck at one point, and on the ensuing faceoff, Philly put out [Claude] Giroux and their top line. I’m sitting there thinking ‘this isn’t junior hockey anymore’. It’s not like junior where you ice the puck and you have junior players lining up against you. You ice the puck in the NHL and you have Claude Giroux and the other team’s top line coming out for the draw and staring at you from across the ice, so you have to be smart about it.”