March 31, 2014

Dave Scatchard: Making A Difference On The Ice And Off

Dave Scatchard was a solid centerman best known for playing with the Vancouver Canucks and New York Islanders. He once scored 27 goals in a season, but he was best suited as a third line pivot who used his size to wear down the opposition. He was a very responsible player defensively who, unfortunately, ran in to serious injury problems. Ultimately a concussion ended his career.

As a NHL veteran Dave Scatchard led a pretty privileged life. But he also took his opportunity as a privilege to make a difference. And that he did for a 17 year old cancer patient back in Long Island.

Here's a Chris Botta story that sums up Dave Scatchard the man:

For the previous four months, the Islanders center had befriended a 17-year old named Adam Novellano. Despite a valiant battle with cancer for most of his teenage years, Adam was told it would be better for him to return to his Islip home and receive treatment with his family at his side. He never lacked for visitors because Adam was a kid everyone liked. Still, he didn't complain when his buddy "Scatch" came over because the only thing Adam loved as much as his family and his girlfriend was hockey.

Posters of the NHL's stars were all over Adam's walls. Scatchard gave Adam a signed picture of himself but said, "I know I don't belong on the same wall with Fedorov and Lemieux and Roenick." The next time Scatchard came over, his picture was mounted right next to Adam's bed.

Once every week or so, they would play hockey on Adam's PlayStation and his two brothers would freak out that a joystick held by the real Dave Scatchard was moving around Scatchard, the video game icon. Adam told his parents he was happy he was able to help his brothers become lifetime friends with a player from the New York Islanders.

You'd never had known that Adam was near the end of his battle with cancer because he always had a smile, always had a wicked remark. When Adam finally passed away late one night last winter, everyone except his family was surprised. The last time any of his friends had seen him, Adam was making plans.

Adam's doctor called an Islanders staff member the next morning with the sad news. The staffer immediately tried to get Scatchard on his cell phone because Islanders practice should have been near its conclusion. He got voicemail. Tried again. Still no luck. The staffer got in his car and drove from the Coliseum to Iceworks in Syosset. For the first time all season, Scatchard was the first one out of the rink.

Dave Scatchard didn't get the news, and here's why.

Turns out that near the end of practice, Scatchard started thinking about his buddy Adam and how he hadn't been to his house in more than two weeks. So the Islander left the ice, immediately picked up the phone and called Elaine Novellano to see if Adam was up for some PlayStation.

Maybe it was meant to happen this way. Mrs. Novellano told Scatchard that Adam had passed away the night before, only an hour or so after Dave had scored a goal in the Coliseum for the Islanders. Dave told Mrs. N. how lucky she was to have been blessed with such an incredible child. They cried together.

Then Mrs. Novellano asked Scatchard for a favor: "You know, it would probably really help Adam's brothers if you still came over. What do you say"?

Said Scatchard, "I'll be there in a half an hour."

Little more than 12 hours after Adam had passed away, Dave Scatchard of the New York Islanders was in Islip trying to ease the pain of his family and friends.

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