Glen Metropolit won't be enshrined as an honored member of the Hockey Hall of Fame or even play in an NHL All Star game, but for every Hall of Famer who never won a Stanley Cup, there are dozens of players like Metro who've sipped champagne, beer or a stripper's breast milk from hockey's sacred chalice. (Okay, the stripper thing is speculation on my part, but it's an educated guess.)
The Canadiens were already longshots to win the Cup this season even if they make the playoffs, and their chances are significantly dimmer after Metropolit suffered a separated shoulder that doctors say will sideline him for the duration, although typically, he says otherwise. It's not about his numbers, which aren't shabby with a team-leading 10 power play goals among a career high 16 goals in 69 games. It's about his veteran savvy and leadership by example, born of building a successful professional hockey career against all odds.
This is a guy who never gives up. If you follow the Canadiens at all, you're probably aware of Metropolit's disadvantaged childhood in Toronto's notorious Regent Park projects. Hockey was his escape from that neighborhood, but it still didn't come easy. He didn't play major junior and was passed over in the NHL draft before embarking on a five year minor league odyssey that included stops in Nashville, Atlanta, Pensacola, Quebec, Grand Rapids and Portland, as well as 34 games split between three teams in the long-gone and barely-lamented RHI roller hockey league.
Metropolit finally made his NHL debut with the Washington Capitals at the age of 25 in the 1999-2000 season, but his travels and travails weren't over. There were four more demotions to Portland, as well as NHL and Europeean league stops in Tampa Bay, Finland, Switzerland, Atlanta, St. Louis, Boston and Philadelphia before the Canadiens acquired him on waivers a little over a year ago.
Some - if not most - general managers would look at a resume like Metropolit's and assume from his vagabond hockey existence that he's a troublemaker who wears out his welcome in short order. By all accounts, Metropolit is quite the opposite - a solid citizen with a tireless work ethic and a commitment to putting the team ahead of himself under any and all circumstances.
You can win a championship without a Joe Thornton, Mats Sundin or Eric Lindros, but you don't win a Stanley Cup without half a dozen guys like Glen Metropolit. The Canadiens will miss him more than most people know.