Editors Note: We've reprinted this note from the Cleveland Fireblades unedited as it captures the real spirit of competition and friendship in HNA.
The Fireblades have been members of HNA and the Cleveland hockey community for many years. Through the years, many teams and players have competed with each other, and in the spirit of hockey, many competitors became friends. Such is the case with several players the Fireblades have taken the ice against.
In the summer of 2006, a member of the Cleveland Renegades, Matt Podolak, suddenly passed away. I’m not certain of Matt’s age, but I would guess that he was in his early to mid thirties. The sad part about this whole thing is that he left two young children behind. A very sad situation indeed.
The Cleveland Fireblades decided that we wanted to help the family in some way. None of us knew Matt personally, but we played against him and he seemed like a pretty good guy. In the spirit of hockey, we decided that each Fireblades member would contribute money to our “Podolak Fund” for each penalty minute taken during the 2006-2007 season, including play-offs. Although the team’s penalty minutes never threatened the numbers put up by Bobby Clarke’s Flyers, we ended up with a nice sum of money.
Included is a picture of The Fireblades Captains (Bob and Mike Buher) presenting a check to Rocky Porterfield of the Renegades at the 2007 Toronto HNA Championships. Rocky delivered the check to the Podolak family upon returning to Cleveland and our team soon received a very heartfelt thank you card from Matt’s mother.
On the ice, in the heat of competition, we may want to beat each others brains in, but off the ice, there is nothing that compares to the camaraderie that surrounds the game of hockey.
THE CLEVELAND FIREBLADES VOTED UNANIMOUSLY AT OUR SUMMER MEETING IN JULY TO CONTIUNUE THE “PODOLAK FUND” THROUGH THE 2007-2008 SEASON.