Thursday, March 17, 2011

A Legend and a HERO

First, we had the opportunity to meet a Philadelphia legend yesterday. Bob 'The Hound' Kelly. He scored the winning goal of the 1975 Stanley Cup finals game against the Sabres... the last time Lord Stanley's cup saw fit to stay on Broad Street. He is now one of the Flyers' Ambassadors of Hockey with fellow Stanley Cup ring bearer, Bernie Parent.

As for the HERO. Originally, when I cam across this story, I sent it to Jpck. But then I started thinking that it's not just the story of a hockey player or a marine...but the story of sacrifice and a hero that everyone should read:

Ben Stafford: From Hockey Player to Marine

'It's unlikely other American soldiers in Iraq have taken a route even remotely similar to that of former Flyers farmhand Ben Stafford.

In about two years, Stafford, a 21st-century Renaissance man who graduated from Yale with a history degree, went from pro hockey player to medical school student to Marine.

Q: What attracted you to the Marines?
A: Initially, it was their commitment to being the best and to going to places that our country sees fit to send them. I have had a lot of opportunities in my life, and I felt that if other young men were giving their time, then why was the same not expected of me?

I felt, and still feel, strongly about our mission in Iraq. But most of all, I wanted to lead Marines, who have proven to me that they are the finest young men this country has to offer.

Q: What do you plan to do with your life when you return home?
A: I will have at least one more deployment after this one, and whether I stay in the Marine Corps after that will depend on a number of factors.

Stafford remains in contact with several of his former teammates, including goaltender Antero Niittymaki.

However, I'm not sure there is a better group of people to surround oneself with than Marines, and that is something that is going to be tough to let go of if I do decide to serve my four years and then become a civilian again.

That said, I have always thought that hockey players tend to be good people, probably due to values instilled in them by growing up playing a game that required them to rely heavily on others for their success and well-being. I think there is a sense of humility that is fostered by this, even among the most elite players, but I can't prove the link.

Read the entire interview. Someone that gave up the fame and salary of an NHL career in a time of war to serve their country. Inspiring to say the very least...

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