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Guy Behind the Guy: Stand-up Guy

Tuesday, 02.17.2009 / 10:35 AM ET / Tracking the Storm
By Mike Sundheim
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Guy Behind the Guy: Stand-up Guy
A few years ago, after a tough loss at home, I wrote a blog about “stand-up guys,” describing how each Hurricanes captain stayed in the main locker room to answer to the media about the team’s defeat that night. It was during our Stanley Cup year, and I talked about how it showed the character of the team’s leadership, that those four men were ready and willing to accept the blame for the group’s shortcomings that evening.

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Over the years, we always seem to have guys I can count on to stick around and talk to the press, win or lose. From Jeff Daniels and Ron Francis to Kevyn Adams and Mike Commodore to Tuomo Ruutu and Ray Whitney, there are certain players that don’t have to be asked to come out and face the cameras.

The most consistent and longest-tenured of my media reliables will see his number raised to the rafters tonight. Looking back, it is almost hard to believe that Wes never won the media’s “Good Guy” Award, which is basically a recognition of a player’s cooperation with the media. I think that is because he was around for so long, and stood there so many times, that we all almost took him for granted as a consistent post-game quote source. It’s a small thing, but it’s yet another example of just the type of person Glen Wesley is, and why his jersey is going to the rafters for so much more than pure statistics.

It is no secret that Glen Wesley is a man of great character. I don’t like using the term “warrior” to describe an athlete, because I think that term should be reserved for those who literally fight wars. (Something Glen would no doubt agree with, being that he was the first NHL player to ever use part of his own time with the Stanley Cup to visit a military base, taking it to the Wounded Warrior barracks at Camp Lejeune.) But Glen played through unimaginable pain throughout his career – taking the ice with afflictions that would have you or me laying in bed moaning. He dove head first into this community, becoming the first player to live in North Carolina year-round and truly consider this his home. And he and his family represented values and integrity uncommon to professional sports these days (Though, thankfully, less rare in our sport).

A jersey retirement represents a special honor in professional sports – an honor more rare even than an entry into a Hall of Fame. Jersey retirements are not only about numbers and achievements on the playing field, court or ice, but about what an athlete meant to that particular franchise and community. After tonight, two Hurricanes numbers will hang in the RBC Center’s rafters, each representing different careers, bringing forth different emotions and separate memories. But one thing the numbers 2 and 10 both represent is character. They are numbers that each and every one of us can see and truly feel proud of the types of people that they symbolize – for our sport, our team and our community. Stand-up men, recognized forever.

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