Rittich's surprise makes young fan's day
When it comes to pulling out all the stops, "Big Save Dave" always goes the extra mile.
Feature photo: Getty Images
After David Rittich watched the viral video featuring young fan Oliver Plewright’s heartbreaking reaction to the news David Rittich had been traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs from the Calgary Flames, the goaltender sprang into action.
Rittich, whose wife Nikola initially drew his attention to the video, reached out to Oliver’s father, Brady Plewright, and then arranged a FaceTime chat with the four-year-old.
“I’m just trying to find a way to get him a jersey now, so that we can make him a Leafs fan. I hope he will become one. I’m going to send him a nice Toronto Maple Leafs jersey and I hope he’s going to be happy about it. I’m just trying to figure out how to do it because I’m trying to get settled in Toronto. We are going on the road and when we do, I’ll figure out a plan," Rittich told NHLPA.com prior to the Leafs' current road trip. "I’m going to order it and ship it to him. I hope I get to see the video when he gets it.”
Rittich’s plan worked, although Oliver was a little lost for words during their conversation.
The Czech Republic native, who went undrafted before signing a one-year, two-way contract with the Flames in 2016, was happy the two connected.
“I spoke with his father first and we made it happen. Oliver, he was a little shy, but at the end of the day, when you are four years old and a player who is your favourite calls, I think we’d all be pretty shy. I wanted to talk to him, to see him smile and see that he wasn’t that sad. It was great, a lot of fun for me.”
But that act of kindness doesn’t end there.
Rittich, who won his first NHL game Nov. 25, 2017, is working on a special gift to send to his new friend.
“I’m just trying to find a way to get him a jersey now, so that we can make him a Leafs fan. I hope he will become one. I’m going to send him a nice Toronto Maple Leafs jersey and I hope he’s going to be happy about it. I’m just trying to figure out how to do it because I’m trying to get settled in Toronto. We are going on the road and when we do, I’ll figure out a plan. I’m going to order it and ship it to him. I hope I get to see video when he gets it.”
It’s hardly out of character for Rittich to step up and make someone’s day – he was part of another heartwarming video that circulated back in 2019.
When his brother Tomas, who has autism, was visiting Calgary from his home in Czech Republic, Rittich introduced his sibling to the Flames mascot, Harvey the Hound. Tomas, a huge fan of Harvey, shared a couple of hugs with the mascot and then gave David an even bigger embrace.
Rittich’s new teammates have certainly welcomed him with open arms.
Although he’s only been with the Maple Leafs a short period of time, the backstopper has earned instant respect from his new teammates.
Not long after the news broke of his trade to Toronto, the text messages began pouring in.
Mitch Marner was one of the players to welcome Rittich into the fold.
“He’s a great teammate and person,” said Marner. “He brings a lot of great energy to the team.”
“These guys are unbelievable, they’ve got a bunch of beauties here,” said Rittich. “Everyone welcomed me right away and everyone is trying to make it as easy as possible for me because it’s not easy when you come to a new team. You have to learn a new system, it’s a new locker room – lots of names – so it can be a little tough, but everyone has been so kind. I’m very thankful and I appreciate it. They are awesome guys.”
When he’s not playing his part in helping the Maple Leafs make a serious run at the Stanley Cup, he’ll dedicate some time to see if he can add one more name to the team’s fan base.
“It would be nice to see Oliver become a Leafs fan. That would be pretty great.”
And if the opportunity ever arose, what player would Rittich like to reach out to him for a FaceTime chat?
“Patrick Roy was my favourite goalie when I was growing up, so to be able to talk to him one day, that’s definitely on my bucket list, for sure.”