It was a beautiful October morning in New England. The plan was to get on the 9:05 train to Boston for a doctor’s appointment that I canceled three times, then meet a friend for lunch.
With coffee in hand, I parked my car at the commuter rail lot, stuck my dollar bills in the parking station and hopped on the train. Settling in, I was looking forward to reading the morning papers which included all the stories on the Patriots-Jets game the day before and the upcoming debate that evening. I pulled the papers from my bag, and remembered to get my wallet out to pay the conductor who would be down the aisle any second. Then it happened. I had no wallet. Not in the bag, not stuck between the papers, not on my seat, not under the seat. My heart raced as I tried to retrace in my mind how I lost it. I had it when I was stuffing the bills into the parking pay station. Now it was gone.
The train was making its first stop, and I raced to get off. The conductor, noticing my complete panic mode asked if he could help. ”Lost my wallet at the previous stop,” I said. He replied, “Hey, don’t worry about it, you can pay next time.” As I jumped off the train I yelled back, “I have to find that wallet… now!”
So there I was, a good two miles from my car and hopefully my wallet. The tracks were fenced off, so it was impossible to walk along them, not that I would any way. “Never go near train tracks.” I’ve been telling my kids that for 15 years.
The only way back was to walk on the shoulder of a highway. There I was with my huge tote bag, 10-pound laptop, and high heeled boots, (that were definitely ‘not’ made for walking.) I was overheated in my leather jacket because of my fast pace, so that went in my bag too. Now sweating through my sweater, I realized there was no chance that wallet would still be there. Looking at my watch, I knew I could not hoof it back to the train station in time to drive to Boston and be on time for my appointment. My day would be spent on the phone, canceling credit cards and replacing identification. I wanted to either cuss or cry. I was starting to do both.
Next thing I know a guy in a pick-up truck pulls over and says, “Alice, do you want a ride?” I looked over and said, ” Yes! ” This guy could have been a serial killer. I didn’t care. I was getting in that truck. He said my name, but that didn’t necessarily mean I knew him. After all those years on local TV people sometimes say hello with my name, which is nice, but doesn’t mean I should be jumping in cars with them.
So I’m in the truck and I look over and realize the good Samaritan is Mike O’Connell, the former Boston Bruin, former Bruins GM, and a fellow resident of my town. ”Wow, I didn’t recognize you Mike,” I said, a little embarrassed. O’Connell looked like the guy in the Ford truck commercials- baseball cap, three day beard, barn jacket.
I told Mike what happened. He took me back to the train station and to my car. ”Do you want to go see if it’s still there?” he asked. I said, “Sure, why not?” I had less than zero confidence I would ever see it again.
We walked over to the pay station; it was not there. Then Mike looked under the pay board, and there it was, in the deep grass. He crawled under the board, grabbed the wallet and handed it to me. I gave him a hug, a huge thanks, ran to my car and made my appointment on time.
Even though we live in the same town, I had not seen Mike O’Connell in some time. After the LA Kings won the Cup last spring I saw Mike and his wife Rosemary out for a morning walk. I was on a run and on the other side of the street. I yelled over “hey Mike, way to go!” with a big thumbs up. O’Connell is now with the Kings organization and he was part of the 2012 Stanley Cup Championship. The old mug was in our little town last month courtesy of Mike O’Connell who took it to the village common for all to touch and photograph.
It didn’t work out with the Mike O’Connell as the Bruin’s GM. He joined the Kings six seasons ago with the title Pro Development an Special Assignments. O’Connell is now a grandfather and enjoying life in the same town where he grew up and learned how to play hockey.
As a player, O’Connell was a solid blue-liner for the Bruins from 1980-86. He became GM of the Bruins in 2000, and was left holding the bag of a team that was a shell of its former self. A half a dozen players left as free agents in the wake of the 2004-2005 lockout, and the Bruins paid the price. O’Connell was the guy who took the heat for trading Joe Thornton. All these years later, the Bruins have their Cup, Mike O’Connell has his Cup and Joe Thornton is still waiting.
There are plenty of Mike O’Connell fingerprints on the 2011 Stanley Cup champion Bruins. Both David Krejci and Patrice Bergeron were drafted on O’Connell’s watch. He acquired the draft pick that turned into Milan Lucic, and he was the only person in all of hockey that thought 29-year-old Tim Thomas wasn’t ready for the scrap heap.
One of my first stories as a reporter at WSBK, was a family feature on the O’Connell’s. It was 1982. He wife Rose were proud parents of their first born- a baby girl. That daughter has her own baby now, and Grandpa has his Cup. Sometimes good guys do finish first.
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