You’ll note by the way, that I didn’t say, “And the winner is…” Brad Thiessen and Colin Wilson are certainly winners, too, in their own right – thanks, Oscar – but this is certainly one of the special stories I’ve had the privlege of covering in my time as part of the college hockey community, and listening to Matt give the Hobey Baker speech helped drive that home.
With apologies to Matt Carle and Ryan Duncan, I don’t remember much about their Hobey Baker speeches, and sadly, I wasn’t in Denver last year to hear Kevin Porter give his speech. However, it certainly struck me the way that he thanked his teammates, not just in the obligatory way, but to single out his co-captain John McCarthy for helping him lead the team, his brother Kevin Gilroy for joining him on at BU this season, and his defensive partner Brian Strait for “cleaning up” after him.
The individual thank-yous to the coaching staff are also something I don’t necessarily remember hearing in the past, and it reminds me of the role coaches have in stories like this: finding the diamond in the rough who might turn into something. Former Hobey Baker finalist John Curry often credited the BU coaching staff, particularly goalie coach Mike Geragosian, for helping him adjust his technique and become the goalie that we spent so much time talking about in recent years, and Gilroy certainly isn’t shy about mentioning the similar role that Mike Bavis and David Quinn had in helping him adjust to playing on the blueline. The trophy went to Gilroy, but this was certainly a win for the entire BU program, and Gilroy wasn’t afraid to say so.
It was also a win for the Gilroy family. Hearing him thank his parents and remind them how much of their money he spent as a walk-on was amusing, and a reminder of one of the important parts of this story: that Gilroy’s journey had humble beginnings. Of course, there’s also the matter of Jack Parker having given away Gilroy’s scholarship before this season, costing the family a bit more money – “My first reaction was that I was not too happy,” Gilroy said – but since the 2009 Hobey winner is now too old to be bound by the NHL’s entry-level contract system, he should be able to settle up with his parents when the ink dries on that pro contract in the near future.
Also, there’s the spirit of Matt’s brother Tim, whom Matt has honored throughout his hockey career, and it was clear as Matt spoke about the highlights of his BU career in the post-ceremony press conference, just how important that’s been, right up to this moment.
“I think one of the best things that I’ll always remember is my first game,” Gilroy said. “I walked into the locker room, and if you’re playing that night, your jersey’s hanging in your stall, and that’s the first thing I did that night and every night I walk into the locker room, is I look at my stall, because I remember that feeling, seeing that jersey, and seeing that number that I wear in honor of my brother. I get goosebumps every time I walk in the locker room, and I think that’s something I’ll always remember.”
Of course, as time goes on, I’m sure this is a night that Gilroy will always remember as well, and I’m pretty sure I’ll remember being here in Washington to see it.
Meanwhile, kudos go to ESPN and the Hobey committee for doing a great job on the ceremony this year. The video tribute to Hobey Baker was very well done, and I thought bringing in former winners George McPhee (the Capitals’ GM and vice president) and Tom Kurvers (assistant GM with the Lightning) was a great touch. Also, the BU band sounded great during the commercial breaks. I never covered a Frozen Four before they started having this Friday night event that included the Hobey presentation, but I think it’s really a fun evening, and this year’s, with this Hobey ceremony, was particularly memorable.
Oh, and just one last thought:
Do you think that somewhere, in the back of his mind, it tweaks Jack Parker just a little bit that both players who have won the Hobey at BU are Yankees fans?
Goodnight from the Verizon Center!