Blues Host Wounded Warrior for a Game

Corporal Todd Nicely, a Blues fan from Arnold, was injured in Afghanistan

Thursday, 03.28.2013 / 3:57 PM / St Louis Blues - News
By Chris Pinkert  - St. Louis Blues
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Blues Host Wounded Warrior for a Game
Todd Nicely, a Blues fan from Arnold that lost both arms and legs in Afghanistan, enjoyed the Blues\' morning skate and game on March 28.



In our society, hockey players and other athletes are often considered heroes.

But ask any one of them about it and more often than not, they will point to someone else they consider to be much more heroic.

Like Todd Nicely, for example.

A native of Arnold, MO, Nicely enlisted with the Marines and was deployed to Iraq in 2008. After returning home, he was later deployed to Afghanistan, where he was placed in charge of a group of 12 soldiers. On March 26, 2010, in his fifth month of duty in Afghanistan, Nicely was performing a routine security patrol with his group when he stepped on an improvised explosive device and lost both arms and legs. After receiving emergency medical help, was transported to the Walter Reed Military Advanced Training Center in Washington D.C., where he received physical and occupational therapy.

Today, he lives with his wife Crystal at the Lake of the Ozarks. He is one of only five quadruple amputees from the Afghanistan War to survive.

Todd Nicely (left) gets an autograph from defenseman Ian Cole before the morning skate on March 28. Nicely was a guest of Craig and Matt Steichen, who recruit former soldiers through Wounded Warriors and take them to sporting events throughout the country. Learn more about the Steichens and their journey at www.All32in17.com or on Twitter @All32in17.

On Thursday, the Blues invited Nicely to the morning skate to meet the team. Nicely and his extended family will watch the Blues face off with the Los Angeles Kings from a suite, where they will honored during a stoppage in play. He also will take an Olympia ride during an intermission.

“It’s nice to get to meet these guys and find out that they’re just like the rest of us,” Nicely said Thursday morning. “They get paid to do what they love, so it’s nice to get to speak to them and see what kind of people they are.

“It’s not often you get to meet the hometown team that you root for.”

Blues captain David Backes presented Nicely with a custom Blues jersey, while Jamie Langenbrunner took Nicely to the Blues bench to watch the team practice and also gave him a tour of the locker room.

“I look up to (guys like Todd) more than any one of my heroes growing up,” Blues defenseman Barret Jackman said. “Todd is a guy that lost all four limbs and still goes out there and has a smile on his face and tries to make a difference. That’s a true hero. What we do is a luxury. What he does is a true inspiration.”

Last year, sports fans Craig and Matt Steichen decided to attend a game in every NFL stadium. What started as a simple father / son challenge has become bigger. At every game they attend, the Steichens have brought wounded soldiers along with them. Now that their football challenge is complete, the Steichens are continuing the tradition with visits to NHL arenas and MLB stadiums.

“I thought the whole thing was going to be about football, but it ended up being about giving back and trying to inspire others to go out and do the same,” Matt Steichen said. “The stories I’ve heard from these (soldiers), everything I’ve gotten to see and what we’ve gotten to experience together is amazing.”

Matt is a banker in Chicago by day. On his days off, he recruits wounded soldiers for their next sports event. Today in St. Louis, it’s Nicely and his family.

“Tomorrow, I have to be at work at 8:15 a.m. in Chicago,” Matt said. “My wife asks me how I do this. But at the end of the day, you look at (Nicely) smiling…that’s how I do it.”

Nicely’s entire 12-man infantry returned home safely from Afghanistan. And despite considering that to be among his life’s greatest accomplishments, Nicely insists he’s no hero.

“I take the term ‘hero’ loosely,” he said. “A few of my buddies are heroes. They’re the ones that didn’t come back. I tell people I’ll take ‘inspiration’ or something like that, but hero? That I’m not.

“My buddies are heroes.”

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WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 z - ANA 82 54 20 8 266 209 116
2 y - COL 82 52 22 8 250 220 112
3 x - STL 82 52 23 7 248 191 111
4 x - SJS 82 51 22 9 249 200 111
5 x - CHI 82 46 21 15 267 220 107
6 x - LAK 82 46 28 8 206 174 100
7 x - MIN 82 43 27 12 207 206 98
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10 NSH 82 38 32 12 216 242 88
11 WPG 82 37 35 10 227 237 84
12 VAN 82 36 35 11 196 223 83
13 CGY 82 35 40 7 209 241 77
14 EDM 82 29 44 9 203 270 67

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2013-2014 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
A. Steen 68 33 29 17 62
T. Oshie 79 21 39 19 60
D. Backes 74 27 30 14 57
J. Schwartz 80 25 31 28 56
A. Pietrangelo 81 8 43 20 51
K. Shattenkirk 81 10 35 1 45
V. Tarasenko 64 21 22 20 43
D. Roy 75 9 28 -1 37
J. Bouwmeester 82 4 33 26 37
V. Sobotka 61 9 24 14 33
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
B. Elliott 18 6 2 .922 1.96
R. Miller 25 30 4 .918 2.64

 
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