A dream come true- the 46-year old salesman who suited up for a pro hockey team
Fri, 07 Feb 2014 02:49:36 GMT —
"For the 46 year old athletes out there, there's no reason to stop at this age."
John Parks is probably like a lot of you reading this article.
He's in his mid-40's and he makes a good living as a pharmaceutical sales representative.
John loves his sports, especially hockey, which he actually coaches at Christian Brothers Academy here in Syracuse.
He also played hockey throughout high school, one season in juniors was ravaged by injuries. In fact, in his hockey career, John has endured three knee surgeries.
So he reinvented himself as an amateur hockey player, switching from a skater to a goaltender. And he's pretty good too.
Those abilities as goaltender, and all around prowess of the game led to opportunities to skate with the hometown AHL affiliate of the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Syracuse Crunch in practice settings only.
John on occasion would skate with the team and take shots from the pros, many of which, have made their mark in the NHL.
However, nothing could prepare him for what happened on February 1st, 2014.
John was on his way to a swim meet for one of his children, when Syracuse Crunch C.O.O. Jim Sarosy told him to be on notice.
On notice for what?
Well, it turns out the night before that not one but TWO Tampa Bay goaltenders were injured in a Friday night game.
That led to the Lightning calling up both of Syracuse's netminders. Typically Syracuse would dip into the ECHL, from the Florida Everblades. But there was a problem in that solution.
Prior to those freak injuries in Tampa, the Syracuse Crunch had switched its 7:00 p.m. scheduled game on Saturday the 1st to 3:00 p.m. so as to not compete directly with the biggest Syracuse University basketball game at the Carrier Dome in years (the Orange's 91-89 win over Duke).
That severely limited the Crunch's options. The franchise still tried to weather this "perfect storm" by flying in a young goalie who was in Missouri at the time.
That young goalie's plane, en route to Syracuse, had to land in Cleveland due to a mechanical error.
Call it fate, call it a dream come true, but those incredible circumstances led to the phone call that John Parks will never forget.
"He (Sarosy) called me and said, how would you like to earn a paycheck from the Tampa Bay Lightning today?" Parks remembers.
John answered..."That's fantastic, yes, definitely!"
With that a dream came to fruition.
The 46-year old salesman, still in great shape that makes him look more like 36 years old, got the chance of his lifetime.
For one day, John Parks became a professional hockey player.
He signed a one-day contract. Good for $300 and he was able to keep his sharp orange and white jersey.
Parks arrived at the War Memorial, just looking to assimilate with the rest of the team.
He did that, and maintained a low profile. Parks took the ice for warmups, with his family and players from CBA watching. He says he wasn't really nervous, but was aware of how "awesome" this experience was.
John did not skate in the actual game, a 3-2 home team loss to Norfolk. He later learned that if the game was in hand for the Crunch, he would've gotten his chance.
"To get the opportunity to actually dress for a game? Yeah, you definitely hope it happens and kind of dream that it will happen but you never realistically think that it will" John says when asked if he ever thought this was possible.
Parks makes no secret, especially to Crunch brass that he'd relish the chance to suit up again. The Crunch, as much as it loves John, hopes that the situation that caused all of this never happens again.
But if it does, Parks will get the call.
And he'll accept the job, in a heartbeat.