READING, Pa. — Yawn. Another chance at another championship for Reading Royals defenseman Patrick Wellar. Same old, same old, right?
Sure, he’s won two Kelly Cups – with Alaska in 2006 and South Carolina in 2009 – and hoisted the Calder Cup with Hershey the following season.
But even after the 29-year-old veteran blueliner’s Hershey Bears got eliminated in the first round of the AHL’s Calder Cup Playoffs Playoffs by the Providence Bruins, he wouldn’t give up on his quest to earn that elusive fourth championship ring.
"The best thing about joining the team in Cincinnati right after that short turnover with the Providence loss, was you got to jump right in and get your feet wet," said Wellar, who played in 37 games for Reading this season.
"But what really helped was my time spent here before; I was here for three and a half, four months and we had a tight group. I liked the guys and Coach Courville, so for me it was an easy transition."
"For him to come down and help us and want to win a championship, that shows how much character he has," said Royals head coach Larry Courville. "He’s a guy that I’ll always hold dear to my heart."
Similarly, that’s a feeling that seems to extend from the coaches office to the locker room. Wellar is not only Courville’s oldest player, but also his most experienced, with Game 4 in Stockton expected to be his 122nd professional playoff contest.
Wellar’s been there, he’s done that. And for his teammates who haven’t, getting him back has been a boost bigger than anything that could ever show up on the scoresheet.
"He brings everything; he brings experience, he brings leadership in our locker room," Courville said.
"Even though he doesn’t have a letter, we have a lot of guys in that locker room with tremendous character with leadership abilities. He brings the experience and the knowledge to our young guys and even some of our veteran guys that haven’t been in this situation. He’s a guy that they’ve leaned on quite a bit in big moments."
And with the Royals up three games to none in the best-of-seven Kelly Cup Finals, Wellar’s choice to come back to Reading one more time could reward him with one more big moment of his own.