Being hockey fans, it's no surprise when we hear stories of players doing good deeds off the ice. Whether it's Matt Moulson(notes) answering a Tweet from his hotel room to accommodate a fan looking for an autograph; or Brooks Laich(notes) helping a fan change a tire on the side of the road after a playoff loss; or the numerous times teams have gone out of their way to cheer up hospital patients or honor members of the military (the list can go on and on), we as fans understand who these players are when they're away from the rink. We know that, for the most part, they might be tough guys on the ice, but they're teddy bears away from it.
It's not just NHL players we're talking about, too. Take members of the Federal Hockey League's Danbury Whalers, who earlier this week helped rescue a driver whose car had flipped ahead of their team bus as they were coming home from a recent game.
On Tuesday night, the Whalers beat the Broome County Barons 5-4 in overtime in Binghamton, New York. As the team bus was making its way home on Interstate 84 not far from Danbury, John Phenix, the team's bus driver, noticed a car up ahead veer off the road and flip several times before come to a stop upside-down.
After witnessing this, Phenix pulled the bus over and alerted the players to what had happened. Two players, Devin Ryan and Ryan Donovan were the first two to reach the scene. Both heard the driver, a girl in her late-teens, moving around trying to escape and managed to calm her down as an ambulance made its way. The driver told the players she was unable to free herself and that's when the pair took it upon themselves to get her out.
They determined that the best way to get the woman out was through the cab's back window. After instructing the woman to shield herself as best she could from any flying glass, Guy and Donovan proceeded to smash out the window using a combination of a rock and kicking at the glass. Once that was accomplished, the seven players worked in assembly line fashion to pass items out through the back to make room for removing the victim.
Being the smaller of the two, Donovan, with Guy holding on to his feet and steadying the flashlight, went in through the window to guide the woman out. It wasn't easy but the pair were successful in extricating the woman from the truck.
"I'm a little smaller than Devin so I put my body in there while he was kind of holding onto the flashlight and holding onto me to make sure that if anything happened he could pull me out. I just told the girl that she was okay. I told her to grab my hands and we slowly were able to pull her out," Donovan said. "She kind of looked around at one point and got kind of frantic and didn't want to come out of the truck so Devin started talking to her a little more while he kind of was pulling her out. We finally got her half way out and Devin grabbed her feet and flipped her up overthe back."
Once the girl was freed, the players brought her on to the team bus and kept her warm with blankets until help arrived. Luckily, she escaped with minor cuts and a possible broken finger, while Guy had to have shards of glass removed from his arm.
Whalers coach Chris Firriolo praised his team afterwards, summing up the characteristics of his players that we as hockey fans know describe players in general.
"They (hockey players) are probably the most humble professional athletes out there. Certainly they are very courageous and I think it shows in the sport that we play and the character that's required to play the sport."