Several years ago, I had an interesting conversation with a guy who used to tend bar at a popular Larimer Street restaurant. The place gave complimentary meals to professional athletes, which in turn drew larger crowds. All in all, it was a good business proposition.
One night, a big-time out-of-state NFL quarterback came through with his entourage. They stayed awhile, took full advantage of the free food and drink, kept the staff extremely busy, and had a good time. But when the time came to wrap it up, the tip was $10.
As the exhausted waitress told the bartender about the tip, she didn’t know there were four members of the Colorado Avalanche sitting at the bar, overhearing what she said.
After she left, the bartender watched as the hockey players opened their wallets and took up a collection. When the waitress returned, they gave it all to her.
I love stories like this. And I’ve heard a number of similar ones about the generosity of pro hockey players in this town. Recently, I got to witness one first hand.
Earlier this year, the Avalanche had the second pick in the NHL draft. With it, they selected Gabriel Landeskog, an 18-year-old Swedish hockey prodigy who formerly played for the Ontario Hockey League’s Kitchener Rangers.
Landeskog is not only fun to watch on the ice, he’s a generous young man. A couple of months ago, he showed up at The Edge hockey rink in South Jeffco to sign autographs for kids. He was a gentleman to kids and adults alike.
But after the autograph session was over, his contribution was not. On a Sunday afternoon in December, he came back to The Edge to personally deliver a check and several boxes of hockey equipment to the youth hockey program.
It’s commonplace to read about the foibles and failures of professional athletes. It’s nice to know that there are more than a few, right here in this community, of whom we can be very proud. Thank you, Mr. Landeskog. We hope you’re in Colorado a long time.
Rob Witwer is a former member of the Colorado House of Representatives and co-author of the book “The Blueprint: How Democrats Won Colorado and Why Republicans Everywhere Should Care.”