By Will Graves
Copyright © 2005 Naples Daily News
ESTERO — Brandon Coalter has spent most of the Kelly Cup playoffs watching his Florida Everblades teammates from the concourse at Germain Arena wearing a shirt and tie instead of a sweater and skates. Coalter isn’t hurt. No, instead he’s the two most dreaded words in hockey, the “healthy scratch.”
Yet the forward doesn’t complain, knowing all too well that this is what happens when you play on a team as talented as the Everblades.
“It’s hard to say, but it’s easy to answer (why I’m not playing,” said Coalter, who has seen action in two of Florida’s 15 postseason games. “In every stall, there’s an individuals name that’s established themselves as a hockey player and a leader in this room. … Each guy in this dressing room has gotten us to where we are now.”
Coalter’s selfless attitude is infectious, and prior to Game 1 of the Kelly Cup Finals on Saturday night, Florida president/general manager Craig Brush showed Coalter you don’t have to play to make a contribution.
Brush presented Coalter with the inaugural “Brandon Coalter Award” during pregame festivities, a tribute, Brush said, to the way Coalter has handled himself not just during the playoffs, but during his two seasons with the team.
“He is the biggest cheerleader there is, he wants to win more than the guys that are playing,” Brush said. “There isn’t a jealous bone in his body and I get e-mails and phone calls all the time talking about all the things that Brandon has done in the community.”
The award is actually an alligator head with a plate on the nose inscribed with a quote from Knute Rockne, “One man practicing good sportsmanship is better than 50 preaching it,” isn’t necessarily something the team will give away every year.
“It’ll be on merit,” Brush said.
The ceremony was a little out of character for the Blades, who have never honored an individual, instead choosing to focus on the team.
Coalter’s unselfishness made Brush change his mind, though he used a little subterfuge just before the pregame introductions to throw Coalter off. “He came down and said to me that he needed some help and could I be down on ice level when the guys were announced,” Coalter said. “I had no idea.”