Move over Tyler Bozak, you’ve got company.
Eleven-year-old Garrett Gamble was given a nameplate in the stall normally occupied by Bozak in the Leafs dressing room afer signing a one-day contract with the hockey club.
Gamble, a native of Duck Lake, Sask., was diagnosed with Mucopolysaccharidosis IVA (MPS IVA), also known as Morquio Syndrome. The ailment poses a high risk of neck and spinal cord damage, rendering it impossible for the youngster to participate in hockey, his favourite sport.
With help through the Children’s Wish Foundation, Gamble – a life-long Leafs fan – along with his parents and three sisters will attend tonight’s game against the Ottawa Senators. He also met the Leafs players, and will drop the puck at centre ice.
“This is a trip of a lifetime for our family as the only travelling we do is for out of province doctor/specialist appointments,” Gamble’s mom Carrie said in a statement. “Garrett will be extremely happy and will have these memoires of this trip and this NHL game fo the rest of his life. It will give him a new outlook on life and how he is truly blessed.”
Captain Dion Phaneuf, who sits next to Bozak – and for today, Gamble – in the Leafs dressing room was among the first Leafs to welcome his new neighbour. “It’s nice to have him in the room,” Phaneuf said. “For him to experience this day is special for him and his family. It definitely puts things in perspective, and we want him to enjoy this day.”
Coach Peter Horachek had praise for his latest roster addition. “He’s been a very humble kid and a positive person. And he shoots the puck really well,” said the coach, with the latter comment more than likely tongue-in-cheek.
Gamble himself said that he held out for “unlimited Coca-Cola” when asked about the terms of his signing bonus after meeting with Leafs president Brendan Shanahan and assistant general manager Kyle Dubas.
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