Alex Biega is excited to skate backwards again.
The 28-year-old defencemen will return to the Canucks line-up Thursday night when Vancouver plays Tampa Bay; Biega will replace the injured Philip Larsen and skate alongside Nikita Tryamkin.
Biega has played only one game this season and it was at forward. Did I mention he’s a defenceman?
As the seventh defenceman, Biega has been a healthy scratch for 25 games this season. It’s been frustrating, he admitted, checking the line-up every game day and never seeing his name on it.
Still, Bulldog never showed his teeth. He never whined or barked or begged. Instead he was the first one on the ice for almost every practice and game day skate this year, full well knowing he wasn’t preparing to play.
His patience has paid off, however, and while he never wanted an opportunity to arise because of an injury to another teammate, he’s excited to be returning to action.
Coach Willie Desjardins praised Biega’s unwavering commitment, calling him the ultimate team guy, adding that in hockey, there aren’t many tougher challenges than being a healthy scratch.
All that is behind Biega now, but he isn’t taking it for granted. Larsen’s injury proved anything can happen, just like that.
Biega was quick to share the news with his wife Diana and 21-month-old son Carter, although it wasn’t likely over a Facetime call.
“Carter sees me over the phone and gets confused,” Biega said. “He’s not at the age yet where Facetime is a benefit; seeing dad isn’t fun unless he’s home, I guess!”
The problem is dad and son haven’t seen each other face-to-face in a while. Diana grew up in Weymouth, Massachusetts, and the Biegas call Boston home in the off-season. With the Canucks having a heavy travel schedule this November and December, Diana and Carter returned to Boston, to be around friends and family.
Not only has Biega been waiting to get on the ice, he’s been counting down the days until he sees his family.
Good news, aside from returning to the line-up, is Diana and Carter will visit him in Carolina early next week. Not only will Carter get to see his dad, he’ll get to see his dad play.
Benjamin Franklin said it best: “He that can have patience can have what he will.”
Biega is an absolute trooper and should be an example to anyone, playing any sport, frustrated with their situation. He kept his head down, he kept his mouth shut and he kept working hard. Now he’s in and he didn’t step on any toes or burn any bridges to get there.
Can we take this story one step further and have Biega score a goal for Carter next Tuesday in Carolina?
Have some patience, we’ll see soon enough!
Derek Jory – @NoJoryous