Grand Rapids Griffins goalie Tom McCollum will always try and stop Pierre-Cedric Labrie’s shot but, off the ice, he went beyond any routine save to help out a first-time father.
Labrie, a left winger with the Milwaukee Admirals, was in Grand Rapids for a New Year’s Eve game against the Griffins when he got that call from partner Jana Pieuze-Roy at about 2 a.m. Sunday.
Labrie had few options to get back – flying wouldn’t get him back in time, private rides or chaffeurs were impossible to get and, plus, there was a snow storm in the Milwaukee area.
That’s where McCollum came in.
A story from Milwaukee Journal Sentinel described the sequence in which McCollum provided one of his biggest saves.
A stressed-out Labrie gave a call across the hotel room to Admirals teammate Mark Zengerle, a former Griffin, looking for suggestions. Zengerle said to call McCollum, widely known as one of the good guys in hockey.
What? Help out an opponent like Labrie, a 6-foot-3, 228-pound veteran tough guy who routinely goes over a 100 penalty minutes a year?
McCollum, still en route from a game in Cleveland, arranged for Labrie to pick up his nearby Ford F-150. Within an hour, Labrie was on his way and, after battling through the snow storm, arrived at the hospital at 6:15 a.m. CST. At 6:54, the couple greeted a son, Lionel.
“I’ve never actually met PC, but I played against him a bunch when he was in Rockford,” McCollum said in the story. “He’s one of those … you can just tell he’s an honest hockey player.
“Especially the tough guys, they always seem to be the nicest guys off the ice. Again, knowing that he’s been around for a few years and knowing he’s an older guy, those are the kind of guys you trust.”
The two met briefly after a game Wednesday in Milwaukee at which time Labrie returned the truck keys and McCollum followed the Griffins’ bus back to Michigan.
“He offered to pay me for (using the truck),” McCollum said. “I just asked him to fill it up with gas, and he was nice enough he washed it for me before he gave it back. That’s all I need honestly.”
No surprise that McCollum is a three-time Griffins’ nominee for the AHL Man of the Year and, no doubt, a frontrunner again.