While Ray LeBlanc has been tending goal for the U.S. hockey team in the Olympics, his wife, Julie, has been watching via television from her parents' home in Largo. Julie and her 3-year-old son Raymond Jr. will leave for France on Saturday while her parents, Richard and Delphine Bowyer, take care of her baby daughter Mary. Here are her comments about her husband, as told to Times' staff writer John Romano.
Q: Did Ray call immediately after he shut out Germany 2-0 Tuesday?
A: The game against Italy was on TV live (Sunday) so we thought we were watching the game against Germany live too. But then the phone rang and the operator said it was a collect call from France. I thought, "What in the world," but then Ray explained the game was over and we were watching a tape.
Q: Ray seems very humble and laid-back in interviews. Was he more excited on the telephone?
A: No, not really. He's happy, but I think my parents have been happier than either of us.
Q: Before making the Olympic team, Ray had bounced around with eight minor-league teams in five years. Has that been difficult on the family?
A: It's been very hard, but I expected that with his career. We've been lucky because he's been traded to a lot of teams real close to our home (Franklin, Ind.), so we've stayed there and he's stayed in hotels. We've only had to move a couple of times.
Q: Did Ray ever think about giving up hockey?
A: Many, many times. I've always told him it was his choice and he knows if he keeps trying, he'll get a chance somewhere.
Q: Was he real excited about being asked to join the Olympic team?
A: He hesitated at first because he didn't want to leave us. We were just getting ready to buy a house at the time. When he decided to go, we had to get power of attorney so we could sign for him on the house. We got some friends to help us fix things and paint the house. When he got a three-day break from the team, he came back home and painted non-stop.
Q: Will your lives change after the performance he's had in the Olympics?
A: I think he'll be in the NHL now. He's been playing like this all of his life, but nobody has noticed him. I haven't been surprised by this. I knew he was good and Ray knows he's good. It was just a matter of time before he got a break like this. Now everybody knows he's good.