Nashville Predators defenseman Michael Del Zotto was reunited with a special, young friend from New York this week thanks to the generosity of some Rangers fans.
Liam Traynor, a diehard Rangers fan who is living with cerebral palsy, met Del Zotto in 2010 when he was playing with New York, and the two became friends. Their special bond was featured in a segment of HBO’s 24/7 series leading up to the 2012 Winter Classic game, so when Del Zotto was traded to the Predators in January, Traynor didn’t just lose his favorite player, he lost one of his best friends.
“He wasn’t too happy that’s for sure,” Del Zotto said, via NHL.com. “But I tried to explain to him it is part of the business and stuff like this happens. So he understands better now. I also told him that no matter where I am, we’ll always be best buddies. So that eased the moment, I think, but it’s safe to say he wasn’t too pleased.”
The Preds don’t play the Rangers in New York again this season, but fans found a way to reunite the two in Nashville by starting an online fundraiser. In just one month, fans raised enough money to cover all the expenses for Liam’s family to catch a Predators game, and after Thursday’s 2-1 loss to the Blues, the two were finally reconnected.
“He always talks to his family and friends about how great I’ve been to him and helping him through tough times, but I think he’s just as much an inspiration for me,” Del Zotto said. “This year was a bit of a struggle at the start of the year. So sometimes you want to get down on yourself or feel sorry for yourself and then you look at how fortunate we are. So talking to him and feeling his support, this really is a two-way friendship. I’m lucky to have him in my life.”
Photo via Twitter/@sledhockeyboy