Minnesota Hockey; Opportunity Lost

Have you heard the story about Nate and Nick Smith? The identical twin brothers from Minnesota have been all over the news in the USA, and the story involves hockey. Today show, good morning america, ESPN, The New York times have all been talking about Nate and Nick and the good game of hockey.

For those who don’t know the story here it is in just a few words. The boys were attending a hockey game with their dad recently in which there was a raffle for the chance to win $50,000. The winner of the raffle would have to shoot a puck into a tiny hole left open on a board in front of a hockey net. You’ve seen these before, scoro is what they are often called. The hole in which the puck has to travel through is just larger than the puck itself and the shooter is 89 feet away. In other words it’s all about luck with very little about skill right?

Anyways, Mr. Smith buys tickets for his boys and like everyone else who bought tickets or whoever buys tickets forgot about it. At the end of the period Nick took off with a some of his buddies. The raffle proceeded as scheduled and as luck would have it they called Nick’s name. With Nick outside, and Pat, the boys dad did what every other dad alive would do in these circumstances, he grabbed Nate, the identical twin and told him to give it a shot.

You know where this is going right? Nate, filling in for his brother did the unthinkable and scored! Keep in mind, 89 feet and a whole slightly larger than the puck itself. Someone out there can tell us exactly how poor the odds of actually winning this are I am sure.

The organizers of the game weren’t aware that the wrong kid scored and neither were those in the arena and the place went NUTS. The little kid just won $50,000!

Now, the family goes home and Pat does what very few of us would do; he comes clean. He tells the boys they have to do what’s right and fess up. They have to admit that it was Nate not Nick who actually took the shot.

This is where the press really took off on the event. Of course, the odds of someone winning this are so remote that the organizers have used an insurance company to pay the award in case lightning hits and someone actually wins. The boys and their dad are all over TV and print as the world awaits the decision from the insurance company.

As I was in Seattle this week, the boys appeared again on every national morning news show to announce that the insurance company had issued it’s decision; no prize money for the boys! Instead a $20,000 gift of hockey equipment would be made to their hockey organization.

So here I am in the hotel club room with tons of people watching this and people were actually getting visibly upset. It’s late August and hockey is all over the news here in the United States. People are talking about hockey, as college football and the NFL are about to kickoff their annual seasons.

So here’s my point. Someone in either the NHL or USA hockey blew it. Someone involved in hockey, NBC, a league, a team, a sponsor should have stepped in and captured the moment. Can you imagine if the boys said, the insurance company isn’t giving us our price but the NHL has announced that we each were given a $25,000 college fund??? If USA hockey, the Minnesota Wild or someone like that paid any attention they would have written a check for $50,000, put the money away for these two boys to go to college and would have been received the equivalent in millions in publicity. How often does the NHL or hockey for that matter appear in a positive way on any of the American daily morning news shows? How about front page of most US newspapers?

The time is still ripe. Somewhere out there should step up to the plate, and do right by these kids. Remember what happened here. The boys didn’t do anything wrong. It’s not like one of the kids was Wayne Gretzky and the other had no talent. The odds of winning are nil. More importantly THEY DID THE RIGHT THING! They could have gone home, kept quiet for ever and got the money. Their dad taught them the right lesson.

For the hockey world right now, it’s opportunity lost. With the summer of death coming to an end, it would have been nice if the league, USA hockey or someone associated with the game was paying attention.

Happy labor day


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