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Way to muscle in on the gold

Therapist gets Olympic glory

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 4/3/2010 (2636 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

JONATHAN Toews wasn't the only Winnipegger on the ice jumping up and down, hugging and high-fiving after Canada won gold in the men's hockey final Sunday in Vancouver -- but you had to pay attention because the other Winnipegger didn't have a number or name on his back.

If you look closely at the team picture taken at centre ice at Canada Hockey Place following the medal ceremony, there's Jim Ramsay, the team's athletic therapist, in the back row with his left arm around Patrice Bergeron and his right elbow resting on Patrick Marleau's shoulder. He's the one showing off his tonsils.

Team Canada poses after winning the gold medal game against the U.S. Jim Ramsay, the team therapist, is the one in the back with his mouth wide open.

JONATHAN HAYWARD / CANADIAN PRESS ARCHIVES

Team Canada poses after winning the gold medal game against the U.S. Jim Ramsay, the team therapist, is the one in the back with his mouth wide open.

"I didn't even think about the picture until my mom, who still lives in Winnipeg, called me. She said, 'Oh my God, you're in the paper! I'm a little disappointed, though. Your mouth is wide open,' " he said.

Ramsay, who got started in the athletic therapy business at the Pan Am Clinic in Winnipeg and has spent the last 16 years with the New York Rangers, said he heard about it once he arrived back at work on Tuesday at Madison Square Garden.

"I'm paying the price with abuse from the players for being in the middle of the picture like that," he said. "They wish they were in the picture, too. They won't say that out loud but I know they wish they were."

This isn't the first gold-medal celebration for the man known as "Rammer." He was there in Salt Lake City in 2002 when the Canadians beat the U.S. and he also worked at the World Cup of Hockey in 2004 and at a couple of world championships. That's a long way from rehabbing the sprained ankles of Little Leaguers and the separated shoulders of would-be NHLers back in the late 1980s.

At Pan Am, he learned from some of the best in the business, including Dr. Wayne Hildahl, Dr. Brian Lukie and Dr. Peter Nemeth. He worked with some of the Winnipeg Jets of the day at Pan Am, including Dale Hawerchuk and Thomas Steen, and was in the right place at the right time when a full-time position with the team opened up. He worked for the Jets for five years and again found himself in a great spot, learning the hockey business from general manager Mike Smith, head coach John Paddock and future Manitoba Moose GM, Craig Heisinger, who was the team's equipment manager.

"You couldn't be in a better situation," he said.

That couldn't be said of Team Canada after the Americans tied the gold- medal game with 24 seconds left in the third period. Ramsay admitted to having his doubts.

"Going into the game, everyone on the staff felt pretty confident how we could do, with home advantage and everything. But when they scored, it was like, 'Oh, my god, where are we going with this?' " he said.

Luckily for the staff and an entire country, he didn't have to wait long to find out. But much of what happened right after Sidney Crosby scored seven minutes into overtime is a little fuzzy. "We were all jumping up and down. It was incredible. I barely even saw the goal. I saw Crosby drive the net and I looked up at the clock. The rest is a blur to me," he said.

In the dressing room after the game, Ramsay found himself with Toews, defenceman Duncan Keith, who was born in Winnipeg, and Russell's Jon Montgomery, gold-medal winner in the men's skeleton.

"(Montgomery) came in to congratulate the players. We all got our picture taken with him. It was a Manitoba team," he said, noting Andre Brin, who handles Hockey Canada's media relations, is also from Winnipeg.

"There's definitely a Winnipeg influence in that dressing room," he said.

Ramsay's connection to Winnipeg is still strong. His parents, Lil and Bob, and sister, Linda, live here and he'll be back in town in June to see his son, Mason, graduate from J.H. Bruns Collegiate.

geoff.kirbyson@freepress.mb.ca

 

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