Goalie Tom McCollum had a very satisfying year for the Grand Rapids Griffins, but perhaps the most gratifying moment of his season came when his simple act of kindness allowed an opponent to witness the birth of his son.
While McCollum was traveling back to Grand Rapids from Cleveland after a game on December 30, he received an early morning phone call from former Griffins teammate Mark Zengerle.
Zengerle, who was in Grand Rapids to play the Griffins on New Year’s Eve as a member of the Milwaukee Admirals, explained to McCollum that his teammate, AHL tough guy Pierre-Cedric Labrie, needed to find a ride back to Milwaukee immediately.
Labrie’s significant other, Jana Pieuze-Roy (Patrick Roy’s daughter) had just gone into labor and if Labrie had any chance to be there for the birth, Zengerle asked McCollum if it would all right if Labrie borrowed McCollum’s F-150.
Without hesitation, McCollum made arrangements through his girlfriend for Labrie to pick up his truck. A stressed out Labrie was on his way, arriving at the hospital at 6:15 a.m. CST and at 6:54 a.m., Labrie and Pieuze-Roy welcomed son Lionel into the world.
McCollum had never met Labrie, but respected him as an honest player. The two did meet when the Griffins next played in Milwaukee and Labrie returned McCollum’s truck with a fresh wash and full tank of gas.
Drafted by the Wings in the first round of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, the 6-foot-3, 215-pound McCollum has always impressed management, coaches and teammates because of his moral character and common decency.
Not only is he a terrific teammate, but the nine-year pro (eight years as a Griffin) is Grand Rapids’ all-time leader for a goaltender in games played (263), minutes (14,900:25), wins (123) and saves (6,640).
On July 1, McCollum and fellow Griffins goalie Jared Coreau are slated to become unrestricted free agents (UFA) and it appears unlikely the Red Wings will bring back both netminders since Detroit is committed to becoming younger throughout the organization.
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