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Dutch Schnell: Catching Up With Darren McCord

Friday, 12.09.2005 / 11:27 AM / News
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Dutch Schnell: Catching Up With Darren McCord

Editor’s Note: Dutch Schnell wrote this column, thinking that Darren McCord was a real person, and a real hero. It turns out, what Dutch thought was a movie based on a true story, was actually a purely fictional action-adventure movie with little plausibility from the get-go called "Sudden Death." There never was a potential disaster in Game Seven of the 1993 Stanley Cup Finals. In fact, there wasn’t even a Game Seven of the ’93 Cup Finals. Nevertheless, we didn’t have the heart to break the news to Dutch, as he would certainly be crushed if he found out the person he interviewed was a look-a-like, who was simply pulling his leg the entire time. Like a typical goalie-racer, Dutch fell for the practical joke.

altDutch Schnell, goalie-racer here, and as you can tell by analyzing the picture to the left, I just got done polishing off my third Philly cheese steak in the past four hours.

Yes, that’s correct you Mensa wizards back home in the State of Hockey, your favorite goalie-racer of all time is living it up in the Keystone state, where the Wild happen to be preparing to sweep the Keystone state with a win over the Broad Street Bullies tomorrow afternoon.

Last night, I took in the Wild’s 5-0 shutout win at the Igloo in Pittsburgh, and let me tell you, I have never felt safer at a hockey game.

As the time ticked away and the Penguin fans became frustrated and downright unruly due to the Wild’s thorough dominance. Did I fear for my safety, considering I was wearing my blue Wild practice jersey and dancing the Chicken Dance after every Wild goal? Heck no!

I was feeling quite secure throughout the game’s entirety, because as I was loitering outside the igloo, I caught a glimpse of Darren McCord in line to buy tickets with his two young children in tow.

If you don’t remember McCord, he is the City of Pittsburgh fire inspector who saved the Igloo, and the lives of all of its patrons, during Game Seven of the 1993 Stanley Cup Finals, when the Penguins faced the Blackhawks.

It was really an unbelievable story.

 alt
 McCord and his son outside the Igloo on Thursday, waiting to buy tickets to the Penguins game vs. the Minnesota Wild.
McCord was simply taking in the game with his two young children, just trying to enjoy some hockey. That is, until he learned of a terrorist threat, which he suppressed by scaling the ceiling, diffusing bombs, and even playing goalie for the Penguins to nobody else’s knowledge.

Quite the stand-up citizen, really. He was recognized with a made-for-television movie called “Sudden Death,” starring grand thespian Jean Claude van Damme, who bears a striking resemblance to McCord.

The movie also starred Steve Aronson, the St. Thomas graduate who signed the first-ever player contract in Wild history. He played the memorable role of “Dooley.”

At least the movie gave McCord some semblance of recognition after the incident. You’d think that performing good deeds like saving the world would at least earn you a promotion at work. But no, when I introduced myself to him and asked him how his life has changed since his remarkable feat, he responded modestly by saying, “Not much.”

 
 McCord (left) and van Damme (right)
McCord was still wearing his same fire inspector uniform, and speaking with a Belgian accent. His kids also appeared to be the same age that they were 12 years ago.

I pressed him further. “How could you not get some sort of hero’s reception in this city?” I asked. “You saved the Vice President for crying out loud!”

“Well,” he explained, “there was a small reception at the mayor’s office. He thanked me and gave me a key to the city, although it appeared to just be a key to a Toyota Previa mini-van. And, I got my picture in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

I’ve moved on. I’m not a guy who necessarily enjoys the spotlight. I’m much more content to relax at home by the fire, and read a book.”

I also asked him if he was scared during his night of heroism.

 alt
 Darren McCord did whatever it took to save the world, including strapping on the pads and taking on the Blackhawks.
“Not really,” he said matter of factly. “The adrenaline was just pumping through my body, and I didn’t have time to think about what I was doing. I just wanted to help.”

I wanted to let him enjoy the rest of the Wild game, but before I headed back to my perch in the press box, I had to know, “Do you ever strap on the pads anymore?”

“No, no,” he chuckled. “I was only doing that for purposes of saving the world. I’ll leave the goaltending to the professionals.”

Too bad for the Penguins. They could have used McCord last night against the explosive Minnesota Wild frontliners, who snapped a four-game skid and renewed hope on this five-game road trip.

From Philadelphia, I am Dutch Schnell, and I…am a goalie racer.

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