Scott Thon says his staff are likely tired of him using hockey analogies in
the boardrooms of Berkshire Hathaway Energy (BHE) Canada.
But when you grow up playing the game, have a father who coached and
instilled the importance of teamwork and commitment, and also have a
significant other with solid ties to the game, well, hockey’s values tend
to stick with you.
“I grew up playing minor hockey, developed incredible relationships,
learned a lot of values from a lot of different people who were my coaches
along the way,” says Thon, who is president and CEO of BHE Canada. “I ended up playing Junior B hockey.
“Probably one of the biggest influences was my dad, who was a big coach in
Saskatchewan, not just coaching me but he coached women’s hockey
nationally. He coached a senior men’s team that won the Allan Cup. To not
only have him as my coach but to be able to watch him move and coach in
hockey, you could ask anyone at my business, they get 1,000 hockey
analogies a day about how we need to run our business around the teamwork,
how we need to think of it, whether it’s leadership or whatever it might
Thon’s wife Deb played with Team Saskatchewan in the first-ever national
women’s championship in 1982 in Brantford, Ont., where famous hockey mom
Phyllis Gretzky dropped the first puck.
These days, Deb makes sure they tune into every Calgary Flames game. Hockey
is still a major part of their lives.
Over the years, Thon and his companies have been major supporters of Hockey
Canada and initiatives to get – and keep – kids on the ice. Most recently,
BHE Canada has made significant financial contribution to the Hockey Canada
Foundation Assist Fund.
The program was created in response to the fact many Canadian families
experienced financial challenges due to COVID-19. The Assist Fund’s goal is
to get these kids back on the ice and, during the 2021-22 season, more than
$1 million was made available to provide registration fee subsidies to
“[BHE Canada has] always been big supporters of Hockey Canada. As COVID
hit, the world changed for so many people and, for us, hockey is such an
incredible sport. It’s Canada’s sport,” says Thon. “Like any team sport, it
teaches a lot of values for kids. We just couldn’t fathom having kids that
wanted to play but they couldn’t afford registration fees. That’s why we
re-directed our funds into the [Assist Fund] to help those registration
fees for kids who want to play hockey.”
Thon had a chance to witness first-hand the impact of his and his company’s
support when he took to the ice in Calgary with 14-year-old Gage Varga, an
Assist Fund recipient, and a few of his friends.
Gage and his sister, Mariah Beres, lost their mother six years ago. Mariah
became Gage’s guardian, tasked with progressing from the role of sister to
caretaker and leader.
Following the pandemic, though, Mariah found it financially challenging to
keep Gage on the ice playing the sport he loves. Through Gage’s local
hockey association, the McKnight Mustangs, she learned of the Assist Fund.
“It had a major impact. Without this program this year, Gage probably
wouldn’t have been on the ice,” says Mariah. “I get to see my favourite
all-star at every game, smiling away and I know that, without this program,
that wouldn’t be possible.
“That look in his eyes, that passion. He’s always been closed off, he’s a
very quiet boy. So when you see him out there just having a great time, it
makes me so happy.”
Thon says this is what it’s all about – a kid who just wants to play and
has been given that opportunity with the love and support of his family and
an assist from Hockey Canada. He was enthralled to see Gage flying around
the ice, the joy beaming from his giant smile.
“Today, if you live in an urban centre in Canada, ice time is really tough.
What I loved about that hour or so, those kids just got to have the pure
enjoyment of playing hockey,” says Thon. “They shot it off the cross bar a
few times, they played some shinny, they did some play in the corner. This
is all free form. No one is directing them at all. Then they did a
shootout. They just literally played a sport that they loved with no
structure. This was brilliant to watch kids just truly enjoy being on a
sheet of ice.”
For more information or to donate to the Hockey Canada Foundation
Assist Fund, visit