For better or worse, John Parks just gave hope to all the aging men's league hockey players out there having a hard time letting go of their glory days.
At age 46, the Syracuse (N.Y.) Christian Brothers Academy assistant hockey coach signed his first pro contract to serve as an emergency backup goalie for the American Hockey League's Syracuse Crunch this past Saturday, according to The Post-Standard.
Injuries to Tampa Bay Lightning backups Cedrick Desjardins and Kristers Gudlevskis on Thursday resulted in a pair of call-ups that left the AHL affiliate two netminders short heading into the weekend. The Crunch signed former Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Allen York for Saturday's game against the Norfolk Admirals, The Post-Standard reported, but when Central Hockey League call-up Grant Rollheiser's flight couldn't make it in time for the game, Syracuse was in need of a second goalie with only a few hours until face-off.
Enter Parks, who has served as a backup during Crunch practices when he's not coaching Christian Brothers Academy -- but reportedly hasn't played a game in earnest for decades. He showed up in sweats to a No. 40 jersey hanging in a locker with "New Guy" written on the nameplate and signed a one-day, $300 contract.
"It will be a good thing for the old-timers in the hockey community,'' Parks told The Post-Standard. "You are never too old for your first pro contract.''
Players are required to arrive wearing a suit for games, so Parks thought he might be fined for his attire (a "rookie mistake," he told the paper), but let's hope the AHL took it easy on him. A number of Christian Brothers Academy players reportedly showed up the game in support of Parks, but he never saw the ice in a 3-2 shootout victory for the visitors.
"I have a lot of faith in Johnny,'' Crunch coach Rob Zettler told The Post-Standard. "Johnny might have held his own for five minutes. If something would have happened during the game, I would have been, 'Uh-oh.'"
Hey, at least Parks scored front row seats, and he won't have to wait as long as most pro hockey goalies do to tell their grandkids the story of their first pro contract.
And, of course, thanks to old friend @camsmithsports for bringing this to our attention.
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