In February, Carolina Hurricanes players met and practiced with Sgt. 1st Class Michael Cathcart, a U.S. soldier and purple heart recipient, at a rink in Ft. Bragg, N.C.:
On Sunday, the Hurricanes were mourning the loss of Cathcart, who was killed Friday in combat operations in Kunduz Province, Afghanistan. The 31-year-old Bay City, Mich., native's military honors also included four bronze star medals, the purple heart medal and four army commendation meedals; he was also a hockey fan whose biggest thrill when meeting the team was talking to former NHLer and Canes coach Rod Brind'Amour. Cathcart had been seriously injured for the first time in Afghanistan when a bomb blast ejected him from his vehicle and left him with extensive head trauma, but recovered fully within two months, then redeployed to Afghanistan shortly after having the opportunity to realize a dream and skate with NHL players.
Carolina GM Ron Francis described the effect Cathcart had on the organization:
“The day that Mike practiced with our team at Cleland Ice Rink at Fort Bragg was a very special day for our players," Francis said. "People throw around the word ‘hero’ too easily sometimes, but Mike Cathcart was a true hero. He proudly served our country and died protecting our safety and freedom. We are grateful for that day we were able to spend with him and the impact he left on our team. On behalf of the Hurricanes organization, I send heartfelt condolences to his family and his unit.”
“It was an honor to share the ice with Mike that day," added Hurricanes captain Eric Staal. Mike had already been seriously injured in the line of duty, but he was determined to return to active duty. My teammates and I will never forget his sacrifice.”
Here are other remembrances of Cathcart:
Everyone at The Hockey News extends our condolences to Cathcart's family and friends. If you wish to help the organizations that helped Cathcart get on the ice with the Hurricanes, you can donate to the Special Forces Charitable Trust here and Defending the Blue Line here.