Washington Capitals forward Brooks Laich has been named a nominee for Sports Illustrated's coveted Sportsman of the Year Award.
Laich has strung together three straight 20-goal seasons, but he wasn't nominated for anything he did on the ice. In fact, he was lauded for something he did in one of his lowest moments.
Capitals fan Mary Ann Wangemann and her 14-year-old daughter were driving home from Verizon Center after the Caps' crushing Game 7 loss to the Canadiens last spring. They hit a pothole and got a flat tire, and were waiting on the side of the road for help when an SUV pulled up, and out stepped Laich.
Laich took off his suit jacket, pulled out the spare, jacked up the car and changed the tire for the mother and daughter -- who were still wearing their Capitals gear.
"He was like an angel, I'm telling you," Wangemann told the Washington Post. "Can't say enough nice things about him."
"Many of the men and women who have earned the award have changed their sports, their communities and sometimes even the world. This year there should be consideration for a man who changed a tire.
"Too often professional athletes seem to live by separate rules if not on completely different planets. They behave as if they are above us. But on a sad spring night in D.C., a small-town Saskatchewan guy lowered himself to the pavement."
SI will announce the winner of the 2010 award on Nov. 30. Among the other nominees are Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Roy Halladay, professional golfer Lorena Ochoa, the Butler University men's basketball team, and University of Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy.
Laich would join Bobby Orr (1970), Wayne Gretzky (1982) and Bob Bourne (co-winner, 1987) as NHL players to take home SI's award. Also, the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team was honored as a group in 1980.