The things a player brings to a team can't always be measured in tangible things, like stats. Sometimes the spark a guy can bring to the bench and the banter he provides on the ice are just as precious as goals and assists. Enter Chad LaRose, the Chuck Norris of hockey.
Chad had amassed quite a following amongst Caniacs prior to breaking his leg in a collision with the boards against Nashville on February 5th, 2008. He had a reputation for being the smaller guy with a heart the size of the arena. The 25 year old Fraser, Michigan native started in the USHL in 1999, was never drafted, but eventually signed as a free agent with the Hurricanes in 2003. The reason he's made it this far? He comes to play and gives 100% every night.
During any game against any given team, you could find Chad LaRose standing up to guys towering over his 5'10", 180 pound frame. His tendency to be filmed yelling all sorts of things at opposing players and not backing down earned him the moniker "The Chuck Norris of Hockey" in my circle of Caniacs.
Why all of this waxing poetic about Chad LaRose? Per Luke DeCock of the News and Observer, Chad could return as early as this weekend. His leg has fully healed and he should be cleared for full contact by Thursday. Finally, some of the Hurricanes are starting to come back from this season's rash of injuries. I would say that "The Chuck Norris of hockey" couldn't come back at a better time. The injuries are starting to wear on the Canes, who have found a way to win without some of their biggest stars and even sans their team captain. With the playoffs only a few weeks away, the Southeast division is the Hurricanes' to lose. All the heart that Chad LaRose brings to the bench and all the energy he brings to the ice, LaRose may just be the tonic that gets the Hurricanes through to the big dance.
Like my op-ed pieces on Canes Country? Check out my blog Penalties and Parenthood: Hockey Rants and Poopy Pants.