It's perfectly normal for fans of the National Hockey League to notice all the hard work that goes into getting a National Hockey League team ready before each and every game, after all they tend to focus on the players as well as the game itself. That being said though if you thought the players don't take notice you would be sadly mistaken.
On Thursday the Anaheim Ducks released a very short video that in my humble opinion is truly one of the feel good NHL stories of the season, and it's a story that focuses on a man that most fans will never even have heard of.
After 34 years of hard work Doug “Sluggo” Shearer, the Anaheim Ducks equipment manager, has decided that it is time for him to retire and as such he announced that this would be his final season as the Ducks equipment manager. While his role may not seem like an important one to fans, you can bet that the players who rely on him for every detail of their gear, including the equipment itself, sticks, gloves, helmet adjustments, skate adjustments, etc. truly cherish the value he brings to their team.
With the announcement of Sluggo's retirement the team was in no way obligated to give him some huge send off, but that is exactly what they did on Thursday. It was done in a relatively private fashion, during a morning skate for the Ducks roster, but there's no diminishing the fact that it was an incredibly generous gesture from the Ducks and an emotional moment for Sluggo.
As Sluggo came out of the locker room Anaheim Ducks veteran defenseman Francois Beauchemin could be seen skating over to ask Sluggo to tighten his visor, and when he came back he gave the soon-to-be former equipment manager the keys to a brand new boat. The boat was sitting out in the middle of the ice, preventing the Ducks from getting any kind of quality practice, and Beauchemin asked him if he could move his new boat so the boys could play.
Sluggo was left in stunned disbelief as he was helped over by Beauchemin to the boat, and as he was inspecting his brand new fishing boat you tell that the emotions were overwhelming for him. Sluggo shook the hands of all the players on the ice, players that he had taken care of over the years, and could be seen wiping the tears from his eyes in between hand shakes.
After it was all said and done Sluggo came over to talk to an Anaheim Ducks camera crew about the experience, and while he did a very good job of keeping his composure the emotion was still plainly written on his face. Both the color of his skin and the water in his eyes revealed the truth of just how truly the gesture meant to him, and his mannerisms were that of a man who was struggling to contain his emotions.
Truly one of the nicest and most feel-good stories that any NHL team has provided us this season.