Excerpt – Grande
A brief excerpt remembering Richard Grande seven years later…
To this day I’ve never met a teammate, and friend, who was so passionate about the game of hockey and someone who dedicated himself to improving in any way possible – one day at a time. I believe I speak on behalf of my teammates that Richard Grande was a one of kind teammate, person and leader.
There are a few characteristics that come to mind when remembering Grande…(that’s how “Mickey” addressed him)
His work ethic on and off the ice. He put in the work to get stronger and excel in every facet of the game – and he enjoyed the challenges that came with it all – and that’s what separated him from a lot of us.
Grande would literally create something out of nothing and was so dynamic with the puck on his stick. He mesmerized everyone in the arena with his stickhandling abilities and probably costed a lot of our opponent defensemen ice time, plus forced numerous goaltenders to quit and pick up a new sport (goaltending equipment isn’t cheap either!)
The scarier part was how he easy he made it all look. Trust me – I witnessed it firsthand a plethora of times…I still shake my head and could thank him for a decent amount of apples I collected on the score sheets.
I was fortunate enough to be his linemate on two different clubs – I can remember at times thinking to myself, on a shift when he would try some sort of “dangle” no one would dare try in a game, “What f–k is he doing, just get the puck deep or pass it;” Well, after saying that to myself I’d meet him in the corner and say, “I don’t know how the f—k you do that…” – Because he had just scored a beaut’ and it was time to cele (as the boys say).
When we’d get together away from the rink and if he met some of my non-hockey buddies – they’d also refer to him as, “Grande, that’s your buddy with ‘the hair’ and he looks like he’s some sort of European soccer star, right?” – I’d laugh at the description because it was so true, and figured I’d share it…
There’s one other thing that comes to mind that I truly admired about Grande – In my opinion, he made a commendable decision – he stepped away from the game to pursue his career and other aspects of life at a time when he probably could have kept playing and receiving offers to go to the higher levels.
Seriously, he was that good that and he could have played until he was probably 24 or 25…
He was more talented, and arguably more passionate about simply playing and excelling, than a lot of us that continued lacing up the skates to play competitively. He was passionate and a dreamer, but also realistic and mature.
To my friend, teammate, and roommate at the tournies – we miss that huge smile of yours, Grande.
P.S., Of course, I miss downing the cold ones with you too – Next time I have a Heineken it’s a toast to you.