When Calgary Flames goaltender David Rittich invited his younger brother, Tomas, and his family over from the Czech Republic to watch him play, he knew that he wouldn’t be the biggest star in his brother’s eyes.
That honor would go, instead, to the Flames’ mascot, Harvey the Hound.
“When they’re watching my games when they’re back home, he’s always looking for Harvey the Hound,” Rittich told Ryan Dittrick of NHL.com. “He pretty much loves him.”
Tomas, who has autism and other developmental challenges, is Rittich’s inspiration. But Tomas could never have imagined the surprise his older brother had in store for him when he went to the Saddledome to take in a Flames practice: meeting his furry hero.
Tomas Rittich, who has autism, met one of his heroes this week ❤️ pic.twitter.com/zwn4JCXrNi
— Calgary Flames (@NHLFlames) January 18, 2019
Rittich arranged for Tomas and his parents to come down to the dressing room after the Flames concluded their practice. As Tomas came through the door and spotted Harvey, he could hardly contain his excitement.
Tomas immediately bee-lined toward Harvey, bouncing in place, before pinballing between the mascot and his brother to wrap each of them up in the biggest hug.
“He was in tears,” Rittich said. “I was close.”
Arranging the meeting between Harvey and Tomas was a small, but incredibly meaningful gesture, and one that will visibly stay with Rittich’s brother for the rest of his life.
“To have Tomas here and get to see the smile on his face every day, it’s the best,” Rittich said. “I love him very much.”
The brothers, according to Dittrick, have always been close. Rittich took on a role in their younger years as a protector, mentor and best friend. When Tomas is back in the Czech Republic with his family, the brothers make a point to speak to each other at least once a day on the phone.
Rittich added, “It’s good for me to keep working, keep trying my best. Everything I do, I do for him. I want to make him proud. He doesn’t get that opportunity, so I’m doing it for both of us.”
Headline photo: Calgary Flames
Russian Machine Never Breaks is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
All original content on russianmachineneverbreaks.com is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)– unless otherwise stated or superseded by another license. You are free to share, copy, and remix this content so long as it is attributed, done for noncommercial purposes, and done so under a license similar to this one.