The number on Derek Hulak’s jersey is going to mean a little bit more this season.
Hulak will wear No. 24 this season in memory of his close friend Cody Smuk, who passed away this past June after a battle with cancer. Smuk was just 26 when he passed, and had played with Hulak for four years at the University of Saskatchewan.
Hulak brought awareness to Smuk’s fight last season when he wore a sticker honoring his former teammate, and scored a goal, in Texas’ 4-0 win against Charlotte.
The team also helped his cause and raised money for Smuk. And the effort extended to the stands as some young fans donated part of their Christmas money to the fight.
Hulak talked about the decision to wear No. 24 after practice today:
What didn’t you learn from a guy like Cody as a person? We lived on the same street growing up, so I knew him my whole life. I’m pretty proud to have been able to call him one of my best friends. He was just a guy, that in every situation, he just stuck his head right in and went to work and didn’t finish until the job was done.
Whether it was on ice, you know, with the U of S Huskies for four years that I was lucky enough to play with him. Whether it was minor hockey, junior hockey. Wherever he was, that’s kind of the mindset he had. Off-season training, or if it was working a summer job. He was the hardest worker that I know and he never made excuses.
For me, kind of wearing that number will help to remind me, first of all whatever I’m going through is nothing compared to the fight that he went through. And kind of a little bit of a perspective, he never asked anything of others. He was always a guy to just dive right in and he would always help others whenever needed. He was a guy who worked hard, and he was good at everything he did.