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Quick Strikes: Daniel Walcott and the human element of hockey

The organizational forward continues to show the good-hearted side of hockey.

Syracuse Crunch Daniel Walcott (85) shoots and scores a goal against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers in American Hockey League (AHL) action at the War Memorial Arena in Syracuse, New York on Friday, November 1, 2019. Syracuse won 5-1.
Scott Thomas Photography

Sometimes it can be easy to forget the human element of the sport we follow, but events like Hockey Fights Cancer month can bring it back into focus. Tampa Bay Lightning organizational forward Daniel Walcott recently showed why this is so important during a game with the Syracuse Crunch.

This past Saturday, the Crunch had their Hockey Fights Cancer game. The players wore lavender jerseys and had their dashboards displaying names of those affected by cancer.

The jerseys featured special “I fight for” patches sewed right in, something different from what the team did last season. The players put names and/or causes onto the patches.

Walcott chose to use this opportunity to surprise a fan that has become a friend with support. Bob and Rose Richards had their first date at a Crunch game 23 years ago, and met Walcott a few years ago. The couple quickly embedded themselves into Walcott’s heart, and they became easy friends.

Walcott, a native of Quebec, calls them his “Syracuse parents.”

When Walcott bought a house in Syracuse last spring Bob helped him with many of the details. When Walcott is on the road with the team Bob checks in on the residence.

“He’s just been a major help with me, my time in Syracuse,” Walcott said. “All the things I need to know as a first-time home-owner he helped me out with. He’s always just been very helpful to me.”

Bob was diagnosed with cancer in April, and to show his support, let Rose know that he’d be wearing Bob’s name on his Hockey Fights Cancer jersey.

“I was feeling for him. He’s going to get through it. He’s going to battle. But I just decided a nice thing I can do is dedicate to him,” Walcott said.

Before the players took the ice for warmups on Saturday, Rose asked Bob to come with her to the corner of the rink. Walcott skated over and showed Bob the name on his right shoulder patch.

“It was a nice surprise,” Bob said.

“It touched him. He’s a wonderful young man. He loves my husband and my husband loves him,” Rose said.

A group of jerseys, including Walcott’s, were auctioned off after the game. Perhaps sadly, Bob and Rose didn’t make it to the auction in time, and another fan got the jersey. Although the couple feels the memories are priceless, we kind of hope the fan who won the jersey at the auction reaches out to the Richards.

“We probably would have (beaten that bid). It’s hard to say. My husband was so excited about it,” Rose said. “It’s worth $800 to us. It’s worth more than that. That’s how it goes sometimes, I guess.”

Incidentally, the story has prompted a new wave of support for the forward to be named to the vacant captaincy position in Syracuse.

The Organization

-Have you checked out the Lightning’s newest sweepstakes?

-Tracey chimed in yesterday with her Orlando Solar Bears update.

Other News and Questions

-The Morning Skate asked an interesting question on Twitter yesterday, and we’d love to hear your opinions in the comments:

-Kris Versteeg has retired from pro hockey.

But Versteeg, 33, reached a point where he thought his presence on the active roster was hindering some of his teammates’ NHL dreams.

‘‘I was sitting on the bench and looking down, and I could see in their eyes everything they were putting into it,’’ Versteeg said. ‘‘I’m not able to match that, and I’m not able to put that same focus and intensity into my game. It was hard to watch kids sit out for me.’’

-Pretty sweet move here: