True Leader

OTTAWA - Not all pro athletes are the same when it comes to recognizing their fans or giving something back to their communities, but Calgary Flames forward Martin Gelinas scores big on both counts.

Gelinas, who scored the winning goals in each of the three series the Calgary Flames won leading up to the 2004 Stanley Cup final against Tampa Bay, was a spokesman last year for Operation Lifesaver and Direction 2006 in a series of Canada-wide radio and TV Public Service Announcements in English and French.
During the Flames’ amazing run at the Stanley Cup this year, support for the team even extended to a class of seven-and-eight-year-olds at Frankland Community School in Toronto’s Riverdale district.

Room 109 was so caught up in the playoffs that they had class discussions about each game. They wanted to find a way of showing the Flames how much they cared. After discussing this with daughter Elizabeth, Alec Stewart, who produced the radio PSAs with Gelinas, suggested they send Gelinas a card expressing their support.

Less than a week after the Flames’ amazing playoff run ended, Gelinas sent back 23 glossy pictures of himself, which he signed and addressed individually to each of the 23 children who signed the card.

His note to the class stated: “I just wanted to thank you for your support during the playoffs. We came short of our goal but we feel that we gained respect around the NHL and earned a few more fans across Canada.”

Actually, a lot more fans!