Jeremy Swayman was playing for the Boston Bruins with a heavy heart Tuesday night.
The 22-year-old goalie strung together impressive back-to-back starts, including a 40-save performance in his NHL debut. After another strong showing that Thursday, he was hit was hit with devastating news when he learned of the death of Dennis “Red” Gendron, who died unexpectedly.
Gendron coached Swayman for three seasons at the University of Maine, and Swayman spoke highly of Gendron just last week.
It was an option for Swayman to not play in Saturday’s game after Gendron’s sudden death, but he still took his place between the pipes against the Philadelphia Flyers.
After Tuesday’s 3-2 shootout win, Swayman was asked about Gendron. He gave an emotional response about the impact the UMaine coach had on him.
“Obviously we all know how impactful Red was to the hockey community, especially my life,” Swayman said. “I loved Red so much. The things he taught me, I?ll have for the rest of my life. My heart reaches out to (his wife) Jan, (daughters) Katie and Allison. It?s a beautiful family that I consider my own. I?m just so grateful for the experiences I had with him. He?s definitely going to be a role model for the rest of my life.”
Swayman’s third win came by way of the shootout, his first in both the NHL and AHL. As he has in his four starts, Swayman looked poised and confident.
“I know that he would want me to be even-keel,” Swayman said. “He?s that kind of a leader. No matter how he felt, he would always have a smile on his face. It was honestly incredible. He always knew what to say, even in the most trying times. It?s something that I want to continue, to honor him. If I can teach someone else what he taught me, I think that would be a pretty incredible gift.”
When Jake DeBrusk ended the shootout, Swayman pointed to the sky to honor Gendron.
“… I wasn’t alone out there,” he said. “It was pretty emotional at the end.”