Adam Dixon thought he had life planned out. The 2018 Paralympic Winter
Games would be his last with Canada’s National Para Hockey Team before he
would start focusing on his career and life away from the rink. But then
something happened he didn’t expect.
Team Canada lost.
“Losing was not in the [plan], but I just had to keep moving on,” Dixon
says of his decision to step away from the game after the 2-1 overtime loss to the United States in the gold medal game.
He wasn’t necessarily planning to retire, but after three Paralympics and
194 national team appearances, the Midland, Ont., native was ready for a
“Quite honestly, it was a shock to come back [for the 2018-19 season] and
we lost probably five or six veteran players who had been around the program
for a very long time,” recalls Tyler McGregor, who took over the leadership
mantle after PyeongChang and has served as captain the last three years.
“To replace that immediately, it was uncomfortable and there were some
“I think we showed a lot of resilience to get through that.”
But while the national team was rebuilding, Dixon was building something of
his own. A house, which he proudly says was sold over a year ago. Then the
COVID-19 pandemic hit and life ground to a halt, giving Dixon a lot of time
Think about the silver medal and whether he could still help the team to a
“Turns out life is not always in your control and I wasn’t doing what I was
planning on doing anyway, so I might as well go back to what I was good
at,” Dixon says with a laugh when discussing his decision to return, one he
made last year before it was hampered by the ongoing pandemic; the national
team was only able to host one camp and compete in one tournament over the
last 18 months. But regardless how much Dixon has been around, his decision
is one McGregor fully supports.
“There are just so many things he does that go unnoticed,” says the
captain. “He’s always been a guy who loves working with younger players…and
then you have his skill.
“It’s an immediate impact to our defensive core but also our team in
general, [it] just gives us so much more depth, so much more firepower.”
Since Dixon’s first appearance with the national team in 2006, the
32-year-old blue-liner has recorded 85 goals, 141 assists and 226 points,
good for fourth all-time in all three categories. But right behind in goals
and points is McGregor, a reminder of a three-year gap in Dixon’s para
hockey résumé. The veteran knows he has work to do.
“I’m not going to be the person I was and it’s going to take a while to get
back to that,” Dixon says, describing his calm presence on the ice and
ability to control the pace of play. “I hope I can still do that, like I
“We’ve practiced together a few times back home and he’s adjusted to the
pace a little,” McGregor says. “But it’s a lot different showing up to a
national team camp when everybody’s together; the intensity is a lot
Dixon says he’s ready to match that intensity in any way he can and proved
the point after the first day at selection camp during fitness testing. He
came off the ice not necessarily physically sore, but hoarse from cheering
on and supporting teammates.
“He can be the funniest guy in the room at times and he can also be the
calmest,” McGregor says of Dixon’s personality and ability to fit back into
the team dynamic. “I think that’s one of the things I’ve respected about
him so much throughout my career and knowing him…you need all kinds of
personalities to fit together, and I think he fits in really well.”
The defenceman is hoping that fit will stick for the season and into the
2022 Paralympics in Beijing, China, so maybe his plans can finally be
fulfilled, and he’ll have a different colour medal to spend time thinking
“We’ve got an opportunity to do something pretty special, something this
program hasn’t done in a long time, and I’m excited to be a part of that,”
Dixon says with a smile.