When University of Maine head coach Dennis ‘Red’ Gendron passed away suddenly on Friday, the Bruins went to goaltender Jeremy Swayman, who played under Gendron for three seasons before turning pro last year, and gave him the option to opt out of Saturday’s scheduled start against the Flyers.
Swayman chose to start, and while he wasn’t able to get the win on Saturday, Tuesday’s 21-of-23 shootout win over the Sabres ended with the 22-year-old Swayman pointing his glove up and looking skyward in a tribute to his coach.
“Obviously we all know how impactful Red was to the hockey community and especially my life. And I loved Red. I love Red so much,” an obviously emotional Swayman said after the win. “And the things he taught me I’ll have for the rest of my life and my heart reaches out to Jane, Katie, and Allison, his beautiful family that I consider my own. I’m just so grateful for the experiences I had with him.
“And he’s definitely going to be a role model for the rest of my life.”
Sitting out was never considered to be a real option for Swayman. Because that’s simply not what Red would’ve wanted.
“I know what he would want me to do, and that would be to go out and play my game and have fun doing it,” Swayman offered. “And so that’s what I tried to do today and that’s what I try to do every day. I want to do everything I can to honor him and and continue his legacy because he would do the same thing.
“I know that he would want me to be even keeled. He’s that kind of a leader. No matter how he felt, he would always have a smile on his face, and it was honestly incredible. He always knew what to say even in the most trying times.”
Swayman even stole the show in the shootout, with stops on both of Buffalo’s attempts, to deliver the Bruins the home-ice victory and the first shootout win of the young gun’s NHL career, and with some help from his college coach.
“It was a pretty special moment,” Swayman said. “I know I wasn’t alone out there, so it was pretty emotional at the end.”
Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Yell at him on Twitter: @_TyAnderson.