Former Hawk gets to raise the Stanley Cup
Sometimes the common guys, like steady defenseman Glen Wesley, get their just reward.
'It honestly feels like a dream to me,' Wesley said, shortly after the former Portland Winter Hawk player captured the ultimate prize in hockey, the Stanley Cup championship, with the Carolina Hurricanes.
Carolina beat Edmonton 3-1 in Game 7 on Monday. It was Wesley's 1,480th career NHL game - 167th playoff game - and the fourth time Wesley had played for the Cup. It was the first time he could skate with the silver trophy as champion, and it was worth the wait.
'It was never, never about me,' he added. 'I truly believe that. It was about every guy in the locker room, and it wasn't about one individual.'
Veterans like Rod Brind'Amour, Bret Hedican and Doug Weight joined Wesley in enjoying a first NHL championship. Even after blowing a 3-1 lead to land in a Game 7, 'there was never a doubt in anybody's mind' that Carolina would win, he said. 'It was an incredible effort by everybody.'
It was typical Wesley, as Ken Hodge, the Winter Hawk general manager and coach, recalls of him. Wesley played with the Hawks 1983-87, when the Boston Bruins picked him third overall in the NHL draft.
Wesley had followed his brother, Blake, to the Hawks. Hodge remembers laughing when their parents suggested that Glen Wesley would be twice the player that Blake Wesley was. Blake Wesley also played in the NHL.
'I thought, 'Parents are crazy,' ' Hodge says. 'But Glen loved to play the game. He loved to practice. And he always had a smile on his face.
'We still think of him a lot. He was a very special player for us. He was very gifted - a gifted skater, he could lose half a stride and still skate with the best NHL players - and he had a great relationship with his peers and teammates. He never got carried away with himself. He always thought of himself as one of the guys.'
Blake Wesley, a former Winter Hawk assistant coach who now helps direct the Okanagan Hockey Schools, based in Penticton, British Columbia, watched his brother play in the playoffs and talked with him almost nightly.
'He was ecstatic with his situation, but he looked really tired,' his brother said of Glen Wesley, 37, whose defensive assignments usually involved blocking shots. 'His body blocked about 60 shots in the playoffs.'
Blake Wesley says his brother keeps retirement talk 'close to his vest,' and he assumes the 18-year veteran will wait until August to decide to play next year. Hodge, for one, guesses that Wesley will try to help the Hurricanes repeat and not go the Ray Bourque route - retire after winning the Cup.