Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 09/16/05 at 08:43 AM ET
Suddenly in the silence of training camp the puck is on Steve Thomas' stick and now there is noise. The surprising number of fans in attendance at the Ricoh Coliseum chant his nickname. They cheer when he does almost anything. They erupt, as they did yesterday, when his snapshot eludes Ed Belfour for a pretty goal by Team C. He is a strange symbol of hope, the cause celebre in the early days of camp: Stumpy. Our Stumpy. Just another one-named hockey player in a town with too many. Only this one-named player happens to be older than the general manager he must impress, without any kind of job security of his own. He doesn't have a contract. He doesn't have anything guaranteed but his effort. He is here quite simply because he isn't ready to walk away from the National Hockey League and can't envision himself living or playing anywhere else.
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