Rookie defenceman Lee (No) Sweatt has already provided an image Canuck fans will remember forever.
Two weeks ago Sweatt scored the winning goal in his first – yes his first – NHL game. It was a thing of beauty against the Nashville Predators not needing any embellishment when he will tell his grandchildren later in the century in Elburn Illinois (46 miles west of Chicago) where he grew up with his brother Bill (a forward, coincidentally, with the Manitoba Moose, the Canuck AHL farm club).
Sweatt took a pass just inside the blue and cooly wired a snap-shot right inside the near post that beat Predator goalie Pekka Rinne of Finland cleanly. The look on Sweatt’s face after was indeed cool like he did it all the time – later he said he was temporarily startled because he couldn’t believe the puck went in. It was karma he beat a Finnish goalie because the Canucks plucked him from a Finnish team to sign him.
Sweatt has two points in three NHL games – not bad for an undersized d’man that the Canucks hoped would just make the Manitoba farm team and provide some valued back-end depth for the playoffs in the event of injury – which fans know the Vancouver has suffered in abundance along the defence in recent post season contests.
So what happens to the 5’ft. 9-inch d’man in practice a few days ago – during this stint in the rarified air of the nhl? He blocks a shot and has a suspected broken bone in his foot. Is this bad news? Not exactly, that was the day he was supposed to be reassigned to Winnipeg and join his Moose teammates. Now because of the injury, he remains on the Canucks and is on the injury list.
What’s the difference, you say? Well aside from the 25 degrees difference between Vancouver (it was about 40F this week and about 15F in chilly Winnipeg), there was the matter of paycheque. Sweatt, the former Colorado College grad, is paid approximately $10,000 a month with the Moose – however on an entry level NHL contract he is paid about $50,000 per month.
You’d think this turn of events highly improbable – considering the 25-year-old was playing hockey last winter in the southwest corner of Finland many thousands of miles from his home in the American Midwest. Afterall, maybe it’s not so improbable – “no Sweatt” for Lee.