Darren Dreger – one of the most trusted broadcasters in hockey!
Darren Dreger was born on June 13, 1968 in Red Deer, Alberta. When he was 4 months old his family decided to move to Yorkton, Saskatchewan and later purchased a farm in MacNutt, Saskatchewan. Dreger did all his schooling up until Grade 9 in MacNutt and then was shipped to Langenburg for High School. "I knew Langenburg very well through participating in sports. I was very sports driven. I had and still have very good friends in Langenburg. My wife Holly grew up here too – we were high school sweethearts. I left part of my heart here in this community”. Darren was active not just in local sports, he was part of the Social Committee together with his friend, Claire DeCock, and School Council Committee at the Langenburg High School where he proved himself that talking and communicating is so natural to him.
Darren remembers that he couldn’t choose what he would do after graduation. "I was in Grade 12 and I still didn’t know what I was doing” – his success story begins. "I knew I didn’t want to farm. I thought about working at the mine or travelling and a bazillion other things I thought I could do”. Finally, Darren decided to apply to the University of Saskatchewan and to get a degree. "So, I was preparing to apply to University when one day my mom and I were driving to Yorkton and I heard this booming add voice on the radio for the Western Academy Broadcasting College in Saskatoon - it caught my attention. I decided to check into it. So, I called and talked to one of their administrators, scheduled an interview and got enrolled for the 2-year course. After completion I had two job offers, one in Morden, Manitoba and one in Yorkton, Saskatchewan at GX94 radio station. Of course, I took the job and moved inch by inch from there. I got lucky along the way. Not to say there weren’t a few bumps and a lot of hard work involved”.
From Yorkton radio Darren went on to Brandon radio and from Brandon radio to Brandon TV, then to Winnipeg CTV where he worked four years as a sports anchor and hockey reporter, then moved on to Edmonton TV where he was HL sports corrector and hosted the Edmonton oilers games. After this experience he moved to Sportsnet (now Rogers Sportsnet) and then to CTV Sportsnet which was in their infancy and had not hired anybody yet. "I remember I was working for CTV Sportsnet in the 1998 playoffs in Dallas, when one of the main executives’ producers for Sportsnet in Toronto, Scott Moore, got a hold of me. I was working on covering the Edmonton Oilers, when one of the trainers came and said that I have a call at the trainer’s office. I thought "What the hell?” I thought it was a prank. I was in the training office; I had no business being there. Scott Moore laughed and said "A friend of mine Don Metz, works for the Oilers and he said I need to take a look at you. So, I did and what I’d like to do now is to bring you and your wife Holly to Toronto and see if you like Toronto and we can go from there”. That’s pretty much how I got started in Toronto.”
In 1998 Darren and his wife Holly loaded up their Ford Explorer and drove from Edmonton to Toronto. A few months later their daughter was born, and things went very well from there. Between 1998 and 2006 Dreger was the host of Hockey Central on Rogers Sportsnet and on July 31, 2006, Dreger joined TSN and became TSN’s hockey insider on NHL. His world class reporting earned "Dregs” reputation as one of the most trusted broadcasters in hockey. He runs "The Ray and Dregs Hockey Podcast” providing expert insight, analysis and opinions on what’s happening on and off the ice. He had previously hosted Leafs Lunch on AM640 Toronto Radio and he also contributes regularly to SportsCentre, That’s Hockey, TSN Radio, and TSN’s website. Four times Darren Dreger was nominated for a Gemini Awards (the Gemini Awards are analogous to the Emmy Awards given in the United States) and in 2010 he won this award in the Best Sports Reporting category for his coverage of the firing of NHLPA Executive Director Paul Kelly!
Darren also is one of the most followed media personalities in Canada on Twitter with more than 1.1M followers. On top of being a highly respected broadcaster, Dreger is also the unofficial authority on homemade rinks. During his travels he often runs into hockey people who want to talk about backyard rinks more than what’s going on in the NHL. In December 2018, Darren took his talent for the Performing Arts in Toronto to the Four Seasons Centre and made a cameo in The Nutcracker.
"I am lucky to have got where I am. It has been a fun ride. People are watching me on TV and thinking "Oh my god what a great job he has!”. Yes, that’s true, I do, but I worry that when I will be done with my job there will not be a job for somebody aspiring to do what I do to take over. That’s tough. When I started in Yorkton, there was 2 sometimes 3 people in the Sports Department, now the biggest radio stations in Canada don’t have sports departments. Likewise, for local television. The industry has changed so much since then, with social media and obviously the internet.”
Darren and his wife Holly got married on 18 May 1991 and has two talented children Cady (21) and Mason (18). Daughter Cady Dreger is attending Ryerson University, where Darren often is invited to speak, and a son Mason Dreger (18) enrolled at University of Guelph. "Both my daughter and son played hockey and were avid athletes. Sports were our social life during their developing years. It has been a big change for me this year, it is my first year not being a hockey dad. I now have more time to play golf and enjoy the pool in my backyard. It is not very glamorous but that’s what I do to recharge” shares Daren when asked about his non work time.
Darren’s busy season is from September to July. He is pretty much on call 7 days a week. "That keeps me busy. Then in July, August and part of September our family travels. We get out to the West as much as we can. We have lots of family in British Columbia and Saskatchewan”. Darren comes back to Langenburg 2-3 times per year to visit his mother, Gilly, and stepfather, Ervin, which is in the care home now, and of course his good old friends!
"I remember how vibrant and driven this community was when I was young. And it still is that way. There is something special about this town” – said Darren when he was asked about Langenburg. "From a high school perspective, we basically had all the sports. When I got to Langenburg it still had a football team, we had a huge curling program (20-30 teams) and hockey was a significant part of winter activities. In the summer you had ball teams and golf. My kids didn’t grow up in Langenburg but are still apart of it, because they have such a nice circle of friends here. In some ways they are more connected with Langenburg than Toronto. There is a chance that they will return to this part of the world when they are done universities. They want to be lawyers, and they think that here is an excellent place to raise families. Holly and I are proud of that. It is a piece of our family values. They love the connectedness of the community. When they have come home for "Laff N Linger Days” and have seen all the activities that are going on and the hard work that the community members do to put it on. Langenburg is a busy place because of the community effort. Langenburg has great people, great volunteers willing to do the work and recognize how important it is”.
"We have had a wonderful experience in Ontario raising kids, but you can be lost easily in the size of Toronto. We are in Brooklin right now in a small town, my group of friends consist of 4-5 hockey dads and it is having been that way for 15 years, it allows us to maintain our grass roots. I am always impressed when I come back to Langenburg nobody is too surprised to see me and they always ask about my family. You never loose that connection. That is what makes the Town of Langenburg special. Whether you have lived here your entire life or only part of it, every time you come back you feel you are still welcome, and you are still home!”
Darren, you are always WELCOME home!