Like most sports, hockey has a way of getting caught up in the numbers game. From goals and assists to the amount of ice time logged, a player’s worth is often measured by quantifiable time-tested standards.
If there were a column on the stat sheet for heart, competitiveness and a willingness to put the team first, Derek Hines would have been at the top of the rankings.
Hines was a four-year letter winner at Army from 1999-2003 and a team co-captain in his senior season. He was a favorite among fans of the Black Knights, who would bang Heinz ketchup bottles against the glass in support.
Shortly after graduation, he was deployed to Afghanistan and killed in the line of duty six months later, the first Army hockey player to be lost to combat since the Vietnam War.
In honor of the man who gave all he had on the ice and made the ultimate sacrifice for his country, college hockey created the inaugural Derek Hines Unsung Hero Award.
In announcing the creation of the Unsung Hero Award, Army Assistant Coach Brian Riley had this to say about his gutsy forward:
At 5-foot-6 and 165 pounds, “Hinesy” was certainly not the biggest player when he stepped on the ice. But when the game started, he played as big as anybody out there.
You could not have asked for a better teammate than Derek. His biggest concern when he played was always for his fellow teammates. Derek never put himself before the team, and as a result, was respected and held in the highest regard by everybody with which he played.
As a coach, Hines was exactly the type of person that you want all of your players to be when they are in your program. More importantly, he was exactly the type of person you hope all of your players become when they leave your program.
Sometimes the true value of a man cannot be measured by conventional statistics.