Who said hockey fans don’t have a heart … and personality.
Kyle Wellwood seemed slightly dopy and highly pudgy when he made the Vancouver Canucks hockey team last year — against all odds. And he had a pretty good season, good enough to want to come back this year ripped and ready.
But where last year he shone at the right moments, this year he has fizzled consistently. Just after the quarter mark of the long NHL season, Wellie, playing on the third line, had a couple of assists and no goals, none, zippo.
Until last night. But even that was confusing.
Mid-way through the third period he appeared to score — it was one of those goals where you couldn’t be sure. But when the announcement was made the crowd, like the TV announcers, were jubilant. Wellie ‘got the monkey off his back.’ Only good things could be expected from here on out. Wllie was back!
Then the bad news came a few minutes later. The announcer corrected himself. The goal was actually scored by linemate Tanner Glass. The crowd, having something so quickly taken away, booed loudly as Glass shrunk into his uniform at the bench.
So the old Wellie was still there, back to a lousy few assists.
But in the dying seconds of the game, he got his chance. The goalie was gone for an extra attacker, the puck was on his stick and then it was gone, flying towards the empty net … and onto the post.
It was a groan that could be heard throughout the city. Wellie was just never going to do it. The guy with ‘soft hands’ and remarkable stick-handling ability and that dopy, ‘gee, I’m really glad to be here’ look was washed up. He just couldn’t score any more. His game was gone.
And then just a few seconds later, with just a few ticks left in the game, the puck found his stick again and he fired it at the goalie-less net.
The crowd erupted, rose to its feet, yelled and cheered and clapped while Wellie, surrounded by back-stapping team mates, grinned that dopy grin.
It’s moments like these that remind us why we care.