MONTREAL — Former NHL left-winger Steve Begin made nearly $7 million during his career and started an engineering company after retiring from the game, but he always felt he was missing something.
It took 22 years, but on Thursday Begin finally got that missing piece in his life when he received his high school diploma.
Quebec Education Minister Jean-Francois Roberge personally gave the Habs’ former number 22 and six other students his certificate at a ceremony at the Bell Centre, home of the National Hockey League’s Canadiens.
“I have been lucky despite my less-than-intelligent decision to drop school,” Begin acknowledged at the ceremony. “I fulfilled my dreams. I succeeded in life. I have a super family. I have a company. Everything is going well — but I always knew something was missing.”
Begin, 40, said it was his friend, UFC champion and fellow Quebecer Georges St-Pierre, who challenged him to finish his studies.
St-Pierre is the spokesman for an online teaching platform that Begin used to complete his studies.
“I studied early in the morning and late at night,” Begin said. “I wanted to be ready. I was nervous like during a playoff game. I put in maximum effort, because I really wanted to be ready and not to fail.”
Begin studied online for free on the education platform ChallengeU, which is supervised by seven participating school boards.
Roberge told reporters that the fact Begin studied online for free doesn’t make his diploma any less official.
“Every graduate (today) passed the ministerial exam,” Roberge said. “They met the standards and acquired all the necessary knowledge in order to receive a diploma that is valid and recognized.”
When Begin was asked what was harder, scoring a goal in the NHL or finishing high school, he said he wasn’t known for his touch around the net.
“If you count the number of goals I scored — it has to be scoring!” he said.
Begin played 524 games in the NHL between 1997-2013 and scored 56 goals and 108 total points.
He played for Calgary, Montreal, Dallas, Boston and Nashville.