by Brian Smith || AHL On The Beat Archive
Triston Grant chortled to himself as he smeared his hands with black paint, thinking to himself of his childhood.
“I feel like I’m back in kindergarten,” he said. “I’m still trying to pass that, actually.”
Indeed, it was a trip back in time for many Phantoms players earlier this week, as they participated in what has become an annual tradition in Philadelphia. For the past nine years, the entire roster and selected Flyers players have created “Helping Hands” handprint cards to benefit the Children’s Miracle Network at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
The process is relatively simple. The players coat their hands with washable black paint and then, with the help of a staff member, make full-size handprints on 11” x 17” cards adorned with the Phantoms logo and the player’s name.
After they wash up and the paint has dried, the players sign the cards. They’re then framed and sold at auction at a Phantoms game, which will take place this year on Dec. 16 when the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins visit the Wachovia Spectrum.
As do most things in a hockey locker room, it became an informal competition to see who could create the best handprints.
“Look at these bear paws,” said Nate Guenin, holding up the card made by fellow defenseman Martin Grenier. Indeed, the 6-foot-6 blueliner had some big prints – so big, in fact, that he only put one hand on one of his three cards.
Some had a handicap. Grant, for instance, had handprints that left him looking like Nine-Fingers Grant because of an earlier injury. He couldn’t help but laugh as he lifted his hands from the first card.
“Wow, that looks great!” he said. “Can you draw the pinky in?”
Meanwhile, others wanted to touch up, nearly resulting in disaster in one case – while Scott Munroe struggled to get enough paint on his right thumb to leave a thumbprint, his left hand, which he left sitting on the card, nearly dried onto the paper.
This year’s participating Flyers included Phantoms alums Jeff Carter, Mike Richards and Riley Cote, as well as Martin Biron, Daniel Briere and Kimmo Timonen. One card was the Brothers Timonen, with Phantoms defenseman Jussi on one half and Flyers defenseman Kimmo on the other. Cote started a new tradition, doing two handprint cards and one “fist-print” card.
This year is the ninth that the Phantoms have participated in the Helping Hands auction, raising over $40,000 so far.