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Survivor 39 contestant Tom Laidlaw had an airtight alliance with Elaine Stott and was sitting pretty on the Lairo tribe, despite his age, until the tribe swap on Episode 4.

He landed on Vokai, separated from Stott and in the minority with two old Lairo members he was never close with. Ultimately, his new tribe members felt like he had more loyalty to “the other side,” so they booted the first Canadian off the show.

Laidlaw talked with Rob Cesterino on Rob Has a Podcast to explain his strategy and relationship with Karishma Patel.

Survivor 39 Tom Laidlaw
Tom Laidlaw | Robert Voets

Did Tom Laidlaw tell anyone he played in the NHL?

Laidlaw said he told everyone about his professional hockey experience as part of his strategy. He didn’t want people to immediately vote him out because of his age, so he wanted to work with it and be a father figure to other contestants, work hard at camp, and show he had leadership abilities.

The former hockey player knew no one ever watched him play as he’s around 30 years their senior, and he remembered some of the contestants made jokes about how long ago he played.

Laidlaw’s strategy seemed to work as Elizabeth Beisel vouched for him during an episode, telling the contestants, “You can’t get rid of Dad,” when they talked about possibly voting him off the island.

However, a tribe swap happened, and Laidlaw ended up in the minority on Vokai with Dean Kowalski and Karishma Patel. Even though Patel seemed like the easy vote, they kept her after she pledged allegiance to the Vokai tribe and voted off Laidlaw, who they thought had strong ties to old Lairo members.

Tom Laidlaw described his relationship with Karishma Patel

During Laidlaw’s experience on the island, he was on a tribe with Patel the entire time. The personal injury lawyer is not the most athletic and caused the team to lose almost every challenge.

Laidlaw, a former professional hockey player, was clearly annoyed with losing so much and explained he wanted her off his tribe several times in confessionals.

He said he got along with everyone else except for Patel, and she didn’t participate in things they did together at the tribe. The former hockey player also wanted to win, so he didn’t have to go to Tribal Council, and felt Patel kept saying she was good at things but then performing terribly.

Laidlaw believes he was voted off the island over Patel because Janet Carbin thought he was too loyal to the old tribe. According to the hockey player, Carbin seemed to control Jamal Shipman and Jack Nichting, so they listened to her and voted alongside her.

Ultimately, Patel and Laidlaw didn’t get along because he claimed the personal injury lawyer would do anything as long as she wasn’t the one going home. In contrast, Laidlaw was more about loyalty and leadership.

Did Tom Laidlaw’s real allegiance lie with old Lairo?

If Laidlaw stayed with Elaine Stott, there’s a good chance he would have lasted much longer in the game as she was his closest alliance member. They got along great, and Stott made up for what Laidlaw lacked in the social department.

Laidlaw admitted Carbin “pegged” him correctly because he would have remained loyal. The former hockey player said he organized Ronnie Bardah’s blindside the first week out of loyalty to Stott because the poker player was targeting her.

He related his gameplay to his Canadian heritage, admitting that while he would have played a loyal game, he still would have done whatever it took to win.