In the tumultuous nature of professional sports, it’s easy to forget how many quality human beings are actually a part of the industry.
In Philadelphia, it’s sometimes even easier to forget. While this city has a well-deserved reputation of demanding the best out of its professional athletes – and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that – we often don’t pay attention to what they do that’s good off the field, court, or ice. We also don’t pay attention to the trials and tribulations they go through that aren’t disclosed through the media.
That brings me to Shayne Gostisbehere. The guy had a stellar rookie campaign, and has since fallen back to Earth. He was made a healthy scratch for a few games last season – which he says in this Players’ Tribune article that was tough to deal with, but that being away from that, even for just one night, “can really help.”
But it’s the hip injury at the end of his rookie season, which was the same injury that derailed his sister’s Olympic dreams, that seemed to define just exactly what kind of character he has.
A month earlier I was nobody, for real. Suddenly I was somebody — and I was somebody in NHL. That entire rookie year was so special. The Philly fans are amazing. Everybody I met knew how to pronounce my name — that’s how you know the love is real. I remember seeing the 👻🐻 signs in the crowd, I loved that.
But, yeah, that rookie season I fell in love with Philly. And I felt the ❤️ right back.
At the end of the season, though, I was reminded again how unpredictable life can be. I had a hip injury, and when the team doctor gave me the diagnosis, I couldn’t believe it — it was the exact same injury my sister had all of those years ago.
I knew how far technology had advanced since she’d had her surgery, and I was in better hands with our medical team than she was back then, but still I remembered the look on her face when she tried to skate again. It was hard not to think about it.
I leaned on Felicia to get to the NHL, and after the surgery, I needed her help again.
She had her nursing degree and my girlfriend, Gina, was in nursing school — so I was well taken care of. Physically, I felt like my rehab was going the way it was supposed to. Where my sister, my girlfriend and my mom helped me the most was on the mental side — they taught me the patience needed to heal properly. I’m a “go, go, go” guy, but just talking to my sister, having her tell me how she went through it, that was invaluable information for me to hear.
It’s real easy to push people away when you need them the most. Especially after a spectacular rookie season. But Ghost never let that go to his head, and he seems to be better for it right now.
Ghost also talks about this year’s team, saying it has a great mix of young guys and veterans. He praises Ivan Provorov, Wayne Simmonds, Claude Giroux and Jake Voracek. You know, the usual suspects. While he knows the team is working on things and still trying to find their game, he still wants to make Philly fans proud.
He ends his piece with advice to young hockey players and figure skaters – don’t take anything for granted.
You can read the entire column here.
You can follow Nick Piccone on Twitter (@nickpiccone) and e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Subscribe to his podcast on iTunes here and listen live on WildfireRadio.com every Friday at 2pm. Click here to read his pro wrestling articles on PhillyVoice. Follow Philly Influencer on Twitter (@PHL_Influencer), Facebook and Instagram.