He stands six feet, one inch tall. Two-hundred and ten pounds. Ruggedly handsome. A well kempt mullet, gloriously flowing with every stride of his skate blades. These are the defining features of Winnipeg Jets grinder Tanner Glass - at least, to the naked eye.
Originally drafted 265th overall in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft, Glass is now in his third season as an every day NHL player. After spending the past two seasons with the Vancouver Canucks, the pride of Regina, SK signed a one year deal with the Jets as the team finalized their move from Atlanta, GA.
Not long after his acclimatization to Winnipeg, Glass was united with line-mates Jim Slater and Chris Thorburn to form the amicably termed "GST" line; a tumultuous on-ice presence often tasked with keeping the opposition's top line in check. Furthermore, the line has bestowed energy to the rabid MTS Centre crowd with each and every shift during forty-one home dates this NHL season.
Better known as one of hockey's pugilistic sons earlier in his career, Glass has used this season to refine his game. Since his arrival in Winnipeg, he has enjoyed his best statistical season to date, marking 14 points (5G, 9A) in 69 games for the Jets. Not only are his point totals up, but Glass has only dropped the gloves seven times this year, down from seventeen in 2009-10 and thirteen in 2010-11 as a fourth line depth player for the Canucks.
Though Glass remains endearing to his fans large in part due to the fact he plays hockey "the good ol' Canadian way" - in two the hockey hotbeds of Vancouver and Winnipeg no less - his style of play isn't necessarily indicative of who he is away from the rink. He is a savvy, sophisticated and well-educated man who uses his abilities to give back to the community.
This is why I love Tanner Glass and so should you:
Firstly, Tanner Glass is an Ivy League graduate. Alumni of the prestigious University of Dartmouth, Glass completed his four years of post-secondary education with a major in history (swoon!) while a member of the ECAC's Big Green hockey program. Glass struggled through his freshman and sophomore season as bouts of mononucleosis and toxic shock syndrome (on account of the mono) briefly derailed his hockey career. Down but not out, Glass managed to score 31 goals and amass 198 PIM at the culmination of his collegiate career, which was enough to get him drafted into the NHL.
Said former coach Bob Gaudet:
"I really liked [Tanner] from the moment I watched him. He skates well, has a good skill level, can score goals, make good physical plays and he typifies the way we want to play hockey here at Dartmouth. He’s the type of player who does all the little things. Offensively he’s improved every year and he’s been great for us." - Dartmouth Sports
Tanner Glass is more than just a pretty face a chess club brain and a pair of cinder blocks for hands.
He's also a humanitarian.
In February of 2011, Pass It To Bulis - a Vancouver Canucks blog - sought out Glass to co-host a charitable game of Scrabble. Blogger Harrison Mooney and Tanner Glass went toe-to-toe in a battle of wits, while raising an estimated $8000 for Canuck Place - a hospice which provides care to children suffering from life-threatening illness.
Moreover, this season as a member of the Winnipeg Jets, Glass has joined the You Can Play movement which seeks to challenge homophobic conceptions in hockey. Glass is one of 38 NHL players signed up for the project founded by Brian and Patrick Burke in memory of the late Brendan Burke who passed away in 2010.
"A hockey locker room is a place to be accepting. The fact there are no openly gay athletes in our sport is not right. If you look at the numbers, statistically there’s got to be a few guys. Anything we can do to make it more comfortable for them, the better." - Tanner Glass, Winnipeg Sun
If that isn't enough to make your knees tremble with excitement, there's still more to love. Glass comes off in interviews as a genuinely likable guy who is humbled by the opportunity to play in Winnipeg, as sampled in the following quotes:
"It’s so small and it gets so loud it’s deafening sometimes. Even during a TV timeout you can’t talk to the person next to you on the bench. Regular season feels like the playoffs did last year. I can’t imagine it being like that anywhere else in the league. It’s a special season." - Tanner Glass, The Province
"Have you seen our home record? It's the least we can do." - Tanner Glass regarding stick salutes after home ice wins, via Puck Daddy
Justin Bourne of the Backhand Shelf created a Beerability Index which is a fantastic barometer employed to measure how much fun it would be to share beers with different types of NHL pros. Between his knowledge of history (swoon!), Scrabble prowess (double swoon!) and employment as an NHL power forward, Tanner Glasses Beerability is through the roof. And did I mention he also fights bears (infinite swooning!!!)!?
In all seriousness though, I love you Tanner Glass. In fact, all of Winnipeg loves you. The word class is overused in the hockey community, but you are a player who exudes it. This city is tremendously lucky a person of your integrity to look to as a role model. You're someone that all Jets fans can rally behind and say "I am thrilled that he represents not only the Jets, but the city that I live in". Even Vancouver residents still love you and you don't even there anymore, as witnessed by the copious amounts of mentions you received on Twitter leading up to your return to the Rogers Arena.
In closing, I wish you and the rest of the Jets the very best of luck as your season reaches it's conclusion. I can only hope that your on-ice success rivals that which you have achieved off of it in your communal endeavors. As a collective fan base, we will sit idly by and hope that Kevin Cheveldayoff and Craig Heisinger see fit to re-sign you in the off-season - hopefully to a multi-year deal. Whatever the outcome, this city will always have a place in their heart reserved for you.
All the best,