Tuesday, January 23, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

Lightning Nuts & Bolts: Teen cancer sufferer's wish comes true

Short shift w/ RW Ryan Callahan

You a handyman around the house? I don't know why my wife hasn't figured it out yet. I can't put things up on the wall. I tried to put a curtain up in my daughter's room and made four holes in the wall. It's quite an adventure around my house when I'm trying to fix things.

TV character you'd like to be in real life: Phil Dunphy from Modern Family. I think he's awesome. I told my wife, "That's the kind of dad I want to be." I love the show and love that character.

What might surprise people about Steven Stamkos: He's a great dancer.

Who's the best card player on the team plane? Me, (Stamkos), (Victor Hedman) and (Brian Boyle) have a pretty good game going, and I came out on top last year, so I'd have to say me.

'Dream come true'

Though Jake Warner, 17, lives in Raleigh, N.C., he's a huge Lightning fan, going to several games when his family vacations in Clearwater.

"The only time I get to see them play is when we come down here or they're up in Carolina kicking (the Hurricanes) butts," Jake said.

In eight days, Jake will have his left leg amputated under his knee due to a rare bone cancer. The Lightning lifted his spirits Saturday with a Make-A-Wish-like day. Warner got to sit on the bench during the morning skate, took a tour of the locker room and met several players and GM Steve Yzerman. He wore a signed Steven Stamkos jersey and collected a few sticks as souvenirs.

"A dream come true," said Jake, above left, with Stamkos and his brother Zach, 14.

Jake grew up playing lacrosse and hockey, a left wing and center. "I'd be the person you put on (penalty kill)," he said. "Because I was one of the fastest skaters. I'd get in everyone's business and annoy people."

That Jake is speaking in past tense about his hockey career is heartbreaking. His mother, Sheila, said Jake's left foot started to hurt in April while playing lacrosse; he plays goalie. They thought it was a stress fracture until they got an MRI exam, which revealed several spots, a rare form of cancer called pseudomyogenic hemangioendothelioma.

Jake's dad, Craig, said there's no treatment for the disease and radiation would cause damage to the tissue, so the only option was removing the limb. Before the surgery, Jake had a wish. The family is friends with former Hurricanes and current Penguins GM Jim Rutherford, who relayed the situation to Yzerman. Yzerman was happy to accommodate Jake, saying it was gratifying to him and the team to "put a smile on his face." "It certainly puts things into perspective," Yzerman said. And Yzerman was Jake's favorite person to meet. "He's a legend. He's a Hall of Famer," Jake said, "one of the greatest there is."

From the fans

Q: How do you guys come up with the play list for warmup music before games?

D Andrej Sustr: They ask us to pick a bunch of songs. A bunch of us get together and pick some, and they put it all together.

Have a question for a Lightning player? Send them to beat writer Joe Smith on Twitter @TBTimes_JSmith or via email at [email protected] We'll answer one every Sunday.

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