“Certainly his competitiveness, his passion and his love of the game, and how much he tried to share that with us,” Appert said of how Palodichuk influenced him. “I think he and I are kind of cut from the same cloth. So, we were wired similarly in terms of we’re both competitors. We both really like to compete and like to test ourselves, and we both love being part of something bigger than ourselves. That’s the beauty of getting to be on a team, you get to be a part of something bigger than yourself.”
Palodichuk could see the competitiveness in Appert early on. After coaching Appert as a 9- and 10-year-old, Palodichuk later became Appert’s high school coach.
“The guy was a real bulldog as a goaltender and an extreme competitor,” Palodichuk said. “Seth was the type of kid, even at a young age like 9 and 10, that you could just tell it was his passion. He literally loved the game and he would sacrifice whatever he had to do to become better and help his team win.”
For Appert, coaching now is about more than wins and losses. This week, he approached his team with the idea of reaching out to former influences. Appert believes his players might receive as much from the phone call as those who they are showing appreciation for. Appert plans to have his players share their experiences with each other.
“Sports are way more about life lessons, and relationships, and friendships and love of the game, whatever it is you choose, than it is about trying to get a scholarship, or play pro or whatever that is,” Appert said. “Those are lessons I learned from Al. I don’t remember a ton of hockey things, specific hockey instruction, from him, but I do remember what he meant to my life and I do remember that he helped instill this fire and passion that I have for the sport of hockey.”
Appert sent Palodichuk a text message in December asking his former coach to join him behind the bench. Palodichuk said he didn’t believe Appert at first. He thought it was a joke. It was no joke. Palodichuk made an impact on Appert’s life and now it was time to repay the favor.
Palodichuk spent the day with the team, which later beat Minnesota, 2-1.
“It’s just a tremendous experience for me to sit back and watch Seth coach these young men that have put so much into the game, and just kind of reflect on all the things I tried to teach and listen to how Seth communicates with his guys,” Palodichuk said. “It’s like having another son that you’re so proud of. I guess that’s the best way I can put it.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.
Photo courtesy of Brian Deutsch