Friday, 12 December 2008

Add It To Your Resume

Pretty amazing story coming out of Washington tonight as the Capitals prepare to play the Ottawa Senators. The Capitals have Jose Theodore and Brent Johnson as their everyday goalies, but a sudden hip flexor problem with Theodore has left the Capitals with only Brent Johnson. Johnson, incidentally, has a wonky left hip due to something being wrong with the ball joint. GM George McPhee put a call into the AHL's Hershey Bears to have Simeon Varlamov join the Capitals for tonight's game, but Hershey is in Houston on a roadtrip right now. It is expected that he'll arrive in time for the second period, meaning that the Capitals have a bit of a shortage when it comes to healthy players between the pipes. So what is a GM to do in this case?

He signs his website producer to an amateur tryout contract as the backup goaltender.

I'm not kidding. And neither is Tarik El-Bashir of the Washington Post.

Brett Leonhardt, the Capitals' web producer, will suit up as #80 tonight for the Washington Capitals until Simeon Varlamov arrives. The 6'7" native of Grand Bend, Ontario will take to the ice for warm-ups and then ride the pine as a member of the Capitals on-ice squad. He's probably not going to win the Calder Trophy, but he did play NCAA Division III hockey as a goaltender for the Neumann College Knights so he's probably decent in stopping the puck. But seriously, how cool is that???

His NCAA career totals are nothing to be ashamed about either. This is a phenomenal story, and this is something that makes hockey such a fabulous sport to watch and follow!

Good luck tonight, Brett!

In other good news stories, Wayne Gretzky's dad, Walter Gretzky, received the Order of Canada today. Governor-General Michaƫlle Jean honoured 46 people, including Mr. Gretzky, with the country's highest civilian award at Rideau Hall in Ottawa.

"Canada's best-known hockey dad, Walter Gretzky is also a man who consistently finds ways of giving back to the community," officials said at the ceremony. "He has helped a myriad of charitable and non-profit organizations as a volunteer and fundraiser."

After receiving his medal, Gretzky said he was in shock and wished his mother could have heard the news. He is also expecting a call from his well-known son, Wayne, tonight.

"I think he will be very proud, it may bring tears to his eyes because he is a very emotional, family-oriented person," Walter Gretzky said to The Canadian Press.

Congratulations to Mr. Gretzky on receiving this prestigious award!

And last, but certainly not least, this is a story that needs to be told. If nothing else, it goes to show how much family goes into being a successful hockey team.

Dale Tallon, general manager for the Chicago Blackhawks, had his father pass away from pneumonia and missed the November 22 game against the Maple Leafs in Toronto to be with his family in their time of mourning.

However, what transpired next is exactly why I love hockey. I'll let Alan Maki from the Globe & Mail tell the story. Please read it here.

My favorite line from the article just for laughs was Adam Burish stating, "Toews was actually the one who asked to go to McDonald's so we think he did that so he could see his hockey card". Priceless!

That's a feel-good story for the ages, especially when you consider some of the multi-million dollar, "me-first" athletes in professional sports today. It's these kinds of actions that make hockey players more down-to-earth than some of the other athletes out there, and I think this is a story that should get a ton of recognition.

If you want to retell the story, please do. If you run a hockey rink, post this to the bulletin board. If you run a hockey team, hand this out to your players and their parents.

Hockey makes me smile when it comes to stories like the three above. All three have something that can warm your heart and make you feel good about these people. Isn't that what sports is supposed to be about?

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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