Dan Gibb chose the right subject as his major field of study at the University of Calgary.
During his five years of taking courses on a WHL scholarship until his graduation in 2018, the former Prince George Cougar defenseman focused on international relations.
Some of what he learned in class has come in handy now that he’s a professional hockey player based in France. Gibb is about to start his third season playing for the Amiens Gothics of the Magnus League and it will be his fourth year in France’s top professional hockey league.
“I learned Spanish when I was there (in Calgary), but I probably know more French than Spanish now,” said Gibb, who still lives off season in Prince George, where his wife lives. family.
“You pick it up. I took online classes, and reading and listening is easier for me now, but speaking is difficult. It’s hard to be funny in a second language. I am way too literal.
The Gothics did not hire Gibb for his fluency in French. They want him there for his work habits and tendency to block shots on the ice and his leadership qualities in the locker room.
Known for his defensive skills at home and his challenging physical play patrolling the Cougar’s blue line, Gibb has become a fan favorite at the CN Center and has served as an assistant captain for his last two seasons in the WHL. In 266 WHL games from 2009 to 2013, Gibb scored nine goals and had 25 assists for 33 points. He played three minor pros games in the ECHL for the Stockton Thunder, then went to the University of Calgary for five seasons from 2013 to 2018, ending his college career as captain of the Dinos.
He went to France that year, he graduated and played one season for the Gap Rapaces of the Magnus League before moving to Amiens in 2019. The 12 Magnus League teams each play a 44-game schedule which runs from late September to early April, leading to the Magnus Cup qualifiers.
The league closed in March 2020 and the playoffs were called after a dead round from the pandemic. The Goths only played 22 games in 2020-21 as the number of COVID cases continued to rise in France. In October, the league closed for a month without training or games, and then each team played only one game per week until the end of the season on April 3. he rarely strayed beyond his apartment or the rink.
Now 29, Gibb was born in Cranbrook but moved to Prince George at a young age, where he became a provincial level athlete in hockey, volleyball, soccer, baseball and lacrosse. As a Bantam hockey player, he was selected by the Seattle Thunderbirds in the eighth round, 170e overall in the 2007 WHL Draft, but never played for the T-birds. After a major year of midget career with the Cariboo Cougars, he was entered by the Cougars in March 2009 and began his four-season career with the WHL this fall.
Gibb said the French league is not as physically demanding as North American hockey, with less emphasis on hitting.
“It’s not as physical, so a little easier on the body, and it’s a different way of life,” he said. “It’s a little more laissez-faire, you go with the flow – you go to the grocery store every day and have your coffee. We play fewer games, only 44, and they also like to have days off. We have a few vacations throughout the year and we travel around Europe for five days so that’s pretty cool. I have been to Spain, Italy, Germany and Vienna.
Two of Gibb’s former Cougar teammates play in Europe. Troy Bourke is in Germany, Cody Carlson is in Romania. One of Gibb’s Gothic teammates is 27-year-old Kitimat-born defenseman Skylar Pacheco, who played three seasons in the BCHL with the Prince George Spruce Kings before moving to Brock University.
Gibb spent the offseason training in the Northern Sport Center weight room and working out in the pro shop at Prince George Golf and Curling Club, which occasionally allowed him the luxury of playing golf for free. He participated for the third year in the Cougars Spirit of the North Healthcare Foundation’s annual golf tournament in early July.
“I didn’t play as much as I would have liked, I played more last year when I was a member,” he said. “I can go high or I can go medium low. My records are fine when they go straight, but sometimes they have the old edge.