Among the best players in the NHL, his teammate and his coach all gathered for a Zoom call Thursday.
Nonetheless it wasn’t to go over the upcoming season, or any signings or the potential lineup. It had been to keep in mind and mourn Ben Stelter. That is the impact this 6-year-old boy had on forwards Connor McDavid and Zach Hyman, coach Jay Woodcroft and all of those other Edmonton Oilers.
Stelter died Tuesday, 18 months after he was identified as having glioblastoma, a kind of brain cancer, in March 2021.
Stelter had become known round the NHL being an Oilers superfan, encouraging them to “Play La Bamba, baby,” in social media marketing videos after every postseason win throughout their set you back the Western Conference Final.
“I thought ‘Woody’ made an excellent point: athletes impact on kids, but Ben had this type of great effect on we and myself, even yet in the small amount of time we knew him,” McDavid said. “He was just this amazing kid, so strong, so brave. Once you watch anyone proceed through that, particularly when you’re 5 or 6 yrs . old, it’s truly inspiring. He was this type of fighter. Just a horrible, awful day.”
McDavid said he first met Stelter last September, after Ben’s father, Mike, sent a note to the Oilers.
“Obviously I simply fell deeply in love with him immediately, and the complete family,” McDavid said. “We just developed that relationship during the period of the year. I simply loved being around him.”
So did all of those other Oilers, who felt Stelter’s impact through the entire season.
Stelter was the Scotiabank Skater once the Oilers played the San Jose Sharks on March 24, and stood on the ice with the players during introductions and the national anthem. He then attended the postgame press conference with Hyman after Edmonton’s 5-2 win. Hyman situated the microphone before Stelter, who laughed because the press conference began.
When Stelter was asked to mention his favorite Oilers player, despite having Hyman beside him, didn’t hesitate to state McDavid and forward Leon Draisaitl.
“First of all, he wasn’t nervous or shy at all,” Hyman said. “He was all set on stage, he was excited to be on stage, whereas most kids his age will be nervous before an area of media. Some players will be nervous before an area of media. He was excited, huge smile on his face, and just wished to talk about the overall game and discuss the win.
“It had been awesome and obviously the fans were outside our media room, you have the fans on the glass plus they were all sort of chanting his name. In order that was another cool moment to talk about with him, and his family was in the area also. It had been only a great moment then one that I’ll cherish for certain.”
Stelter also joined the Oilers because of their morning skate April 28, and afterward was presented their own Upper Deck “Heroic Inspirations” trading card by McDavid. It had been an officially licensed card with 4,000 printed to get to the Oilers and the Stelter family.
“In my own time learning Ben and his influence on we, I thought it put lots of things in perspective for a number of people, in defining what’s important in life,” Woodcroft said. “To start to see the courage that son had to fight what he previously to fight, and the lessons that may be learned from him. With regards to learning Ben and working our way by way of a tough day yesterday, I believe it puts lots of things in perspective.”
How will the Oilers keep on Stelter’s legacy? McDavid said it had been something the team would discuss through the next couple of weeks. On Thursday, the pain of losing Stelter remained too fresh to take into account that. Nevertheless, Stelter’s impact was obvious, and his heart, his will to fight and the memories he’s left out will remain with the Oilers for a long period.
“We lost just a little boy who displayed only courage every day,” Woodcroft said. “He could inspire a team, he could inspire a city, had the support in the united states and the hockey world.
“As a father, when i said earlier, it had been special for me personally to start to see the effect he previously on a lot of people. I understand that I’m just thankful for my time that I got eventually to spend with him. We lost a bright light, but his spirit will go on for certain.”
Photo: Mike Stelter thanks to Edmonton Oilers