Canucks and Beyond

Sometimes, I Can't Help But Like the Bolts

08/04/2008 at 5:45pm EDT

There are times in the last few months when I (and many others, I’m sure) suspected the Tampa Bay Lightning organization had nearly re-defined the word “crazy”—even by NHL standards. And then there have been moments when they’ve seized my attention in more positive ways, marketing their team with such a bang this summer as they have.

But it’s the story of David Carle that I like most of all—a situation that hints they might be both a little crazy and a pretty classy organization.

David Carle is an 18 year old Tampa Bay Lightning prospect… but he’s also a prospect with no future.

In early June at the NHL Central Scouting Combine in Toronto, Carle—like hundreds of other up-and-coming young players—went through a series of medical and fitness evaluations. It was then that an abnormal EKG indicated undiscovered problems, and so medical staff encouraged Carle to be checked out further, which ultimately revealed terrible news to the young athlete.

More on that from Farhan Devji at Inside Hockey:

Carle went through a series of tests at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. On June 19th – the eve of the NHL Entry Draft - Carle first learned that he would likely never be able to play hockey again, and at that point he notified all thirty teams.

Carle was diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a heart condition which puts his health at serious risk, particularly when overexerting his body. And so strenuous exercise like professional hockey is out of the question.

In an interview with Devji this past week (video is below) Carle mentioned how devastated he was at the news, going from one of the most exciting times of his life as he looked forward to the Draft, to losing his dreams for a hockey career. In the course of a few short days, his whole life changed.

But then the Tampa Bay Lightning did something rather extraordinary—they drafted him in the 7th round anyway.

David Carle will never play a day of NHL hockey in his life but this week he’s been in Victoria, BC for the Lightning’s prospect camp. The Bolts have given him the experience of a lifetime, allowing him to at least experience a taste of what he had worked his whole life towards.

A wasted draft pick? Some might say so, but to me it seems like a really remarkable thing to do for a young man who had to give up so much in such a short time.

And besides, by some odd twist of fate the Lightning really will have a Carle to put on the ice come October: on July 4th, David’s older brother Matt Carle was traded to Tampa from the San Jose Sharks.

The University of Denver will also be honoring Carle’s scholarship despite this medical setback, so his future is bright.

Many thanks to Farhan Devji’s article for enlightening me to this story. The video below documents his interview with Carle during the prospect camp in Victoria this past week.

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