I happened to be in San Francisco for a conference the other week, where I had a dinner meeting with some partners. I ended up chatting with a high-level executive who also happened to be a Ducks fan who lives in Orange County. He grew up a Canadiens fan in Montreal, but moved to the OC for the job. Basically, he is a pure Hockey dad who has his kid in every league available in Southern California.
Of course I mentioned that I was a huge Sharks fan, and immediately the banter started back and forth. The first-round infamous playoff series, the fact the Ducks traded away a Hall-of-Fame D-man and couldn't make the playoffs last year... we hit everything. When the topic got to Dany Heatley, I expected the usual insults about Heatley's "character". Boy was I wrong...
The story goes like this. They were on vacation in Hawaii at a pretty exclusive resort. His son at the time was only 12 years old, and an aspiring goalie. While waiting for a shuttle which was to take them to the airport, they noticed none other than the Ottawa Senators Dany Heatley standing in line waiting too. He said he had his Ottawa Senators bag, so it was pretty obvious who he has. So, being a good Dad he went over to Heatley and introduced himself and his kid. He said Dany was very nice and polite, shook hands with the kid and even snapped a picture with Heatley. The Dad said thank you and they walked back over to their spot in line and waited for the shuttle thinking how awesome it was that he just got his son a picture with an NHL All-Star. His family got on the bus before Heatley and took their seats. When Heatley walked onto the shuttle, instead of taking one of the many open seats, he sat down next to the kid. Of course the Dad was shocked. Apparently Dany talked to the kid about hockey and the kid's league all the way there- over a 30 minute ride.
What an awesome story. Reminds me of some of the things I have heard about Thornton and the way he interacts with the young fans too. It's always refreshing to know that the guys you root for on the ice are people you can feel good about rooting for off the ice as well.