I have realized over the past few days I tend to be biased toward certain groups of players. With biased opinions being having a strong presence in any fan base, it does not surprise me that I tend to want these players to succeed more than others, even if the logo on their sweater dictates I should think otherwise. There are a few attributes that would make a fan appreciate a players success that much more. Some of those would be the ability to overcome the odds, players showing class, and players that have overcome an ailment that would normally be career ending. I've put a short list together of the more recent stories that a true hockey fan grows to love.
In the category of overcoming the odds, one cannot help but love the story of Matt Moulson. Had anybody heard of this player, or taken him into any consideration as a mainstay on any of the 30 NHL rosters before he made his presence known this fall? Truth is, nobody knew or cared about this guy. Watching the Leafs/Isles game, in which Moulson was playing in front of a home crowd, the look on his face during the pregame interview was one of pure delight. Here is a player just happy to be in the NHL. Not only is he happy with his presence in the NHL but he is leading his team in goals scored. Great hockey story. Matt Moulson has overcome the odds.
In the category of class, Ryan Miller stands out. Being one of the best goalies in the NHL, and putting on a stellar performance on Monday night would often put a person of Millers talent in a position in which modesty would often take a back seat. It was Millers concern over the camera man being nailed by an errant clearing attempt. Often known for staying very focused during games, especially during a stoppage in play, Miller took a time out and made sure the camera man was alright. Not only did Miller do this, he gave the stick to the camera man as a way of apologizing for the accident. This is why hockey players are often regarded as some of the classiest athletes in professional sports.
As for health related setbacks, there s not too much to write about this season yet, as more players are getting injured rather than coming back from a major ailment. However, one name does come to mind, Marian Gaborik. This is a dynamic player that has never really been able to make as much o an impact as we would have loved to see him make in the past due to injuries. This year, he has been playing, and playing very well.
One has to question if Leafs' net-minder Jonas Gustavsson will be the next to overcome a serious ailment. Is this heart problem going to be something that will plague the rookie for the rest of his career, or will he overcome this condition maintaining his position as a promising rookie net-minder? Only time will tell.
Does anybody have more names to add to the list? There are plenty of stories four us fans to love every season. Feel free to share.