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Tyson Strachan is, among other things, a good dude. Our paths crossed in junior when we played for the Vernon Vipers of the BCHL, and he’s since gone on to do great things. His hockey career took him to Ohio State University, then on to a number of places from Las Vegas to St. Louis, from San Antonio to Florida and beyond. He’s now a member of the Washington Capitals organization, has 130 NHL games under his belt, and another couple hundred more in the American League.

At 6’2″ 215 he plays a physical role that may cause some oblivious fans to believe he’s rough around the edges, but like so many of the NHL’s big men, the soft-spoken Saskatchewan native is a caring, thoughtful dude.

Strachan and his girlfriend Katie are the co-founders of the charity “Strachan Strays,” that seeks to create awareness of dog homelessness, overpopulation and overbreeding. They work with no-kill shelters to find homes for as many dogs as they can wherever Tyson’s career has taken them.

It wasn’t that long ago when I tweeted that my wife and I were dog shopping for a particular breed (I believe it was Wheaton Terrier?) when Tyson responded and suggested rescuing, and I became aware of what he’s been up to. I thought I’d ask him a handful of questions about his career and his charity, which you can read about after the jump.

5 Questions

Tyson_Strachan_crop-2You’ve played 130 NHL games, and even more in the American League. What would you say is the biggest difference between the leagues on the ice? 

That is probably the question I get asked the most.  It’s hard to answer in a way, because realistically everything is different.  Every area of the game is just a little bit better, faster, etc., in the NHL.  The American League obviously has a lot of very skilled players who will play in the NHL, but overall the games are a lot more scrambled.  As a defensemen I find it easier to play in the NHL, which seems weird to most people, but it makes sense because as a team sport all the guys on the ice know their jobs and are typically in the right spot.

When you finally cracked the show, did you have a “holy crap I’m in the NHL” moment? Last I saw you you were with Las Vegas in the ECHL, I believe!

Ha, of course I did. I remember being able to appreciate that moment right after my first game.  We played in Washington and I finished the game a minus 1. I just sat in my stall and couldn’t stop smiling, which is very weird considering we just lost and I was a minus.  I just remember saying to myself that I made it, and that nobody could ever take that away from me.  It was a really cool feeling, especially considering that the year before I had been playing in Las Vegas in the ECHL and wondering if pro hockey was for me.

On your charity work:

How did “Strachan Strays” get started? Was there a specific moment that made you feel like you had to do something, or did the feeling build over years?

Strachan Strays has definitely been an idea that has evolved over time. My girlfriend and I are both animal lovers, and we have tried our best to volunteer and be involved with local shelters in every city I’ve played in.  We have two adopted dogs of our own, and have fostered other dogs whenever we’ve been able to.  It’s a passion and a cause that we feel is important to share with anybody that will listen, so with that in mind we have created Strachan Strays.

Editor’s Note: Tyson and his wife Katie got interested in helping when they met another couple interested in the cause, David and Kelly Backes. From Tyson on the Strachan Strays website:

While playing for the St. Louis Blues, we met David and Kelly Backes.  Now two of our best friends, their impact on us could not be overstated.  Up until that point I have to admit that although our passion for animals was there, we were still naïve to the realities of the pet industry.  In St. Louis we saw how terribly animals were mistreated at puppy mills, how stray and abused dogs were forced to live their lives, and how amazing the people are who dedicate their lives to fixing this epidemic problem.  We became involved with two no-kill shelters in the area, Five Acres Animal Shelter, and Stray Rescue of St Louis. 

Specifically, what does the charity do?tyson's scruffers

Our organization raises money to support local shelters wherever I play.  We also want to provide people with any information they need in case they are thinking of adopting an animal or are interested in trying to help out or volunteer in their community.

Is there a general message you’d like to get out there?

Anybody interested in learning more about pet adoption or about our charity can visit our website at www.strachanstrays.com.  Please visit the site and join our cause of eliminating pet homelessness one animal at a time.

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You can check out a video from February of 2013 of Tyson and Katie talking more about how they got into the cause. Big thanks to Tyson for joining us, you can follow him on Twitter here!