Today culminates Hockey Weekend Across America with Hockey Day in America. Each day had an appropriate theme. up to today. Friday was "Wear your Favorite Jersey" where I asked you what your favorite sweater was. Saturday was "Bring a Friend to the Rink" where I asked you what your favorite arena experience was. Today is a combination of history and honoring, and sitting on the couch watching butt loads of NHL hockey.
Today's theme from USA Hockey is "Celebrate Local Hockey Heroes" day. There is most likely a local rink or hockey club where someone has gone out of their way and beyond expectations to make the rink, or the organization better. Maybe they funded renovations for an old rink, or supplied equipment for a group of kids that couldn't afford it. Chris Peters from United States of Hockey has a great write-up on local hockey heroes.
Perhaps it's someone more known around your respective state. It didn't take me long to figure out my local hero. You should all know him well - It's Jim Dowd. The Brick, NJ (my hometown) native was the first and only player to be drafted by the New Jersey Devils who is from New Jersey. He won the Cup with the Devils in 1995, with his most notable contribution being the game winning goal with over a minute left in Game 2 in Detroit. After The Sweep, the local paper had him holding Lord Stanley above his head with the caption "There's No Dowding Him." The whole town was buzzing throughout the entire playoffs, rooting for the hometown kid to bring the Cup home. We all felt like we won it, knowing one of our own has accomplished the greatest thing in hockey. He has a State Championship, a NCAA Championship, and a Stanley Cup Championship. He's been a winner his whole career.
I was only seven in 1995, and just started to get into hockey (thanks to the previous year's run to the ECF) but this buzz around the community made me love it. Without Jim Dowd, I would probably just be a causal fan.
He played for ten teams in his career and is now retired. He's got an office job in the Devils organization now. Here's a good bio from USA Hockey Magazine. He's down so much for hockey in Brick and across Monmouth and Ocean Counties. He started the Shoot for the Stars Foundation, that helps children with special needs play hockey, most notably the Brick Stars "Special Need" Challengers Ice Hockey program. He runs a high school all star between Monmouth and Ocean Counties usually held in the summer where all proceeds go to this foundation.
So as you are watching nine hours of hockey on NBC and Versus (Here's the regional map for the first set of games today), remember your local hockey hero. Let us known in the comments who he/she is. Use this for an open thread for all the games today, Devils talk is obviously fine, but keep it hockey related. Thanks for reading - Happy Hockey Day in America!