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Monday, March 02, 2009

Nice (non-Isles) story


---: Saturday, February 28, 2009, 5:33 AM

From today's Toronto Star. This really put a smile on my face:

http://www.thestar. com/Sports/ article/594480

Feb 28, 2009 04:30 AM
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Ross Brewitt
Special to The Star

It's time for one of those feel-good anecdotes, the kind that doesn't come out of the cynical world of professional sport very often. It's about a goaltender named Dave Gatherum and how his mercurial hockey story finally came full circle.

Make no mistake, Dave Gatherum could play some goal. The mainstay of the Fort William Hurricanes in junior, he was the property of Detroit and after training camp went to Sherbrooke (Que.) in the QHL as third on the Wings' depth chart. Ahead of him were Terry Sawchuk and Glenn Hall. Any budding goalie would have been number three behind those two.

But in October 1953, with an injury to Sawchuk, coach Tommy Ivan called for Gatherum to join the Wings and installed him between the pipes for the next three games.

Gatherum began his NHL career with a 4-0 shutout of the Leafs. In Chicago, he kept the Hawks off the scoreboard until 21 seconds into the third in a game that ended in a 2-2 tie, establishing an NHL mark for scoreless time by a rookie in his debut, 100 minutes, 21 seconds, a 55-year-old record that still stands.

The next night in Detroit he had another shutout going but the Blackhawks scored with just seven seconds left in the third, a 2-1 Red Wing victory. Gatherum's stats for his entire NHL career reads three games, two wins, one tie, and a goals against average of 1.00.

The Wings went on to win the 1953-54 Stanley Cup with Gatherum's name engraved on it for posterity.

Fast forward to this month, and a small parcel is delivered to the Gatherum home in Thunder Bay. Inside is a striking, 64-diamond encrusted 2007-08 Red Wings Stanley Cup ring, the name "Gatherum" in raised gold on one side, the Stanley Cup on the other, and the Wings' logo perched above a large solitaire diamond on top.

The unheralded, unannounced ring puzzled the Gatherums until they read the letter inside.

"We are very pleased to be able to acknowledge your past Stanley Cup Championship by presenting you with a 2008 championship ring. We sincerely thank you for the pride you brought to the team, the city of Detroit, and the State of Michigan, and we congratulate you on your accomplishment.

Mike and Marian."

"It left us speechless," Gatherum admitted of the letter from Wings owner Mike Ilitch and his wife.

Ilitch had decided to give rings to every living Wing that won a Cup prior to their 1997 championship, the team's first title in decades.

All the players in Gatherum's day were without rings. They weren't the sought-after ID of pro sports champions until the mid-60s.

"I was moved," Gatherum said, "I had to say thank you to someone, so I called the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, and going through the switchboard, then a receptionist, I was put through to the executive offices. When I explained who I was, and why I was calling a man said, `Just hang on.' The next voice I heard said, `So, you received the ring?'

``When I asked who I was speaking to he said, `Mike Ilitch.' I could hardly believe it and when I told him I wanted to send a letter of thanks, he said, `Just hearing your voice, and knowing you're happy, Dave, is thanks enough.'"

Now, with a ring he claims is almost too big, and valuable, for everyday wear, Gatherum is still pondering his good fortune.

With that, there was a pause in our conversation. ``All I can tell you is Mike Ilitch didn't have to do this. But turning the ring over one day I noticed there was something engraved on the inside. FAMILY.

"It's one of the nicest things I've ever experienced, and all I know is, this ring will be in the Gatherum family. Forever!"

Forever1940 is the nom de plume of Eric Hornick, statistician on Islander home telecasts since 1982.

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