One Winnipeg hockey dad wears a permanent reminder that grassroots can have a lasting impact.
Earlier this year, Fort Richmond resident Paul Falco — an avid Boston Bruins fan — made a no-holds-barred bet with 11-year-old Cali Mazur.
Cali, who lives in Richmond West, plays on the same hockey team as Falco’s daughter, Chloe. Falco bet Cali — a goalie and lifelong Montreal Canadiens fan, who always wears their apparel to training — that if the team won the city championship he would get a Habs tattoo as his punishment.
After a mixed start to the season, the Richmond Kings Atom A-2 girls hockey team gained momentum and went on to become city champions.
True to his word, Falco got the tattoo — but on his terms. He threw some ideas at his tattooist — Jay Pelland of Ink Illusions Tattoo Studio in Osborne Village — and they came up with the idea of the Bruins bear eating a Habs logo.
And with the Bruins recently in town to face the Winnipeg Jets — and the Canadiens set to arrive on Dec. 22 — rivalries were renewed as Cali recalled the moment she first saw the result of her prize-winning bet.
"I was pretty surprised," said Cali, whose grandfather Eddie Mazur won the Stanley Cup with the Habs in 1952-53.
"I knew he would at least put on a temporary tattoo, but I wasn’t expecting him to do it for real. It was pretty funny and a memory I’ll cherish forever."
Falco, who has several tattoos, said he hoped the bet would inspire the team to achieve the ultimate success.
"After a few games of the season, I saw how good the team was. I knew they had a chance," he said.
"They loved the tattoo when they saw it."
Cali’s dad, Mace, said Falco is not only a man of his word, but an inspiring presence for the team.
"It was the funniest thing ever. When he did it, I couldn’t believe it," said Mazur, noting the team won the championship in colourful fashion after winning head-to-toe hockey gear in a national Scotiabank contest.
"He does have some tattoos already, but he’s not a rough-and-tough guy. He looks a bit intimidating, but he’s a really funny guy and quickly won the girls over."