I Love Fans!
I have always been know to be one of the most fan friendly athletes in the world, something I am very proud of. There is a personal reason behind this friendship I share across the globe with hockey fans, and I love sharing this story.
When I was 7 years old, I attended the Hartford Whalers morning skate. I was with my buddies hanging over the glass watching the team practice and Gordie Howe scooped up a pile of snow on his stick and dumped it on the top of my head. He continued to skate on and when he came back around, he winked at me. At that moment it felt like there was no one else in the arena, just him and me. I was so excited that Gordie Howe paid attention to me, and I have shared that story my whole life.
I always think of that moment and how I felt — the excitement that “one of the greatest hockey players ever” had made me feel special, and the impact that had on me was so great. I was just a little kid who loved hockey and that experience with Gordie Howe made me obsessed with the game of hockey.
When I made it to the pros, I knew I could make a kid feel the same way I did and that was extremely important for me to accomplish that. The way I felt the first time I interacted with a fan at the Chicago Stadium changed me forever, and it became part of my identity as a professional athlete. The rush I got from making someone else’s day better and to see their smile was so amazing. I knew that fan interaction would be a priority for me throughout my career.