Let’s not pretend for a second there’s a surname witticism he hasn’t already heard.
In fact, any new material pertaining to his last name is probably as rare as him conceding the middle of the ice to an opponent in the defensive zone.
But for those that venture to try at either, bonne chance, in your attempt at futility.
“There are always little puns and one liners out there,” says Cal Foote, a defenceman with Canada’s National Junior Team. “I’d like to say I’ve probably heard them all.”
This is especially true when the conversation turns to the comparisons to his father, Adam Foote, who for 19 seasons patrolled blue-lines with three National Hockey League teams with a distinct competitive assertion for winning.
And when you pursue the same career path as your already highly-successful and Stanley Cup-winning parent, you’re going to attract analogies and last name quips.
But if one would more creatively venture into the verbal mix – and be excused for at least attempting to be humourous – it’s probably accurate to proclaim he’s forging his own path in the game and doing so at his own pace.
It doesn’t mean that his father is not involved in the growth and development of his son. On the contrary, Cal has used his father’s teachings and experience as a valuable resource.
At just 19, Cal Foote is an excellent two-way defenceman capable of using his massive size at six-foot-four and 212 pounds for defensive positioning and physicality, while also possessing a tremendous ability to process the game quickly with an offensive touch as a bonus.
“He grew up around hockey, so he’s got the hockey feel for what’s going on,” says Joël Bouchard, who played against Cal’s dad many times over his 364 NHL games and is part of the Program of Excellence management group with Hockey Canada.
“I think they have a lot of similarities,” adds Bouchard. “If I would have to compare, Adam was a little more on the edgy side of things, but Cal has a little more offensive flare.”
“But on top of that the Foote family has done a super job of raising a great kid. He’s tremendous to be around; professional and polite.”
Born in Denver to Canadian parents when his dad played with the Colorado Avalanche, Foote says he made the easy decision to declare his allegiance to Canada when they inquired about his services internationally.
“Growing up cheering for Team Canada and watching my father wear the Maple Leaf (at two World Cups and two Olympics) was special,” says Foote, who is currently in his third year with the WHL’s Kelowna Rockets.
“I was born into a Canadian family and had Canadian blood running through me so there was always a connection. And when Hockey Canada approached me first that was a pretty easy decision for me. To be on the side I was already cheering for and to be part of it emotionally since I was young was (logical).”
His three seasons in Kelowna have shown a progressive trajectory in points and on-ice importance to the Rockets – he is wearing the ‘C’ this year. As a result, the Tampa Bay Lightning took notice and made him their top choice in this past June’s NHL Entry Draft as the 14th overall selection.
This year’s IIHF World Junior Championship will be the first for Foote (and first-ever international appearance), but his second experience with the POE after attending Canada’s selection camp last year, only to be passed over. Not to be discouraged, he went back to Kelowna with a determination and zeal that ensured he wouldn’t be disappointed a second time.
“I think obviously another year of playing hockey helps,” he says. “For me a big focus was working on my skating. It’s a combination of a year’s time working on my skating and my weaknesses plus the additional experience.”
Foote works with off-ice trainer Carson Lemon and his father on-ice during the summer months. Adam Foote instructs a group of young players with precision, small-group workouts and his oldest son absorbs every ounce of what is being taught.
“I always wanted to be like him,” says Cal. “The cool thing is he went through the same thing. His advice comes through and I try to listen to everything he has to say to me.”
Cal is quick to admit his relationship with his father is excellent. The two are very close. Incidentally, Adam Foote will also be busy with Team Canada over the holidays, working with Canada’s National Men’s Team at the Spengler Cup.
“We talk hockey pretty much every chance we get,” he says. “At the supper table and before or after games, he’s always trying to give my brother and me the best advice and trying to help us the best he can.”
It’s an exceptional asset to have as a young player and Cal knows it, although because of lineage there’s always going to comparisons. This is especially evident because like his father, Cal is a big, right-shot defenceman.
“I see the caring and professionalism in him,” says Bouchard. “He wants to be a hockey player. There’s passion there, like his father. But they do have different attributes as his dad was intimidating and rugged.
“But that’s OK too. He’s going to take his own path. He is his own player.”
Or with apologies at attempted humour, one might say as a player Cal wants to stand on his own two feet.