When Ben Hutton arrived at Gila River Arena Thursday morning, assistant equipment manager Brian Hamilton (Red) asked the defenceman if he was taking part in the optional practice.
Hutton shook his head no, to which Red joked that he didn’t have time to practice because of the big news and all the text messages he’d be answering.
“What big news?” inquired players nearby. Hutton stayed silent, so Red covered for him. “It’s his birthday!”
Hutton smiled and left the room.
When I arrived at the rink for practice, Behind the Lens photographer Jeff Vinnick was quick to let me know it’s Hutton’s birthday. How did I miss that on the calendar? Great one Jory.
I immediately tracked down Hutton and wished him congrats on his big day. He thanked me, saying it was pretty exciting.
The following tweet was prepared.
For some reason I questioned whether it was actually Hutton’s birthday. And it’s a good thing I did. A quick Google revealed Hutton’s birthday is April 20th. Today is November 24th – it’s not even his half birthday!
As I watched the Canucks juggle the soccer ball in the hallway, one-by-one players wished Hutton a happy birthday, but something was off. They didn’t get an enthusiastic thank you in return, just a sheepish grin.
Something was up.
Chris Brumwell, vice president, communications & community partnerships, pulled me aside a few minutes later to fill me in on Hutton’s two-year contract extension. Luckily the crew back home at Canucks HQ had it covered and as news broke at 12 p.m. Arizona time, it also broke at the arena.
This led to a lot of confusion.
Henrik Sedin shook hands with Hutton congratulating him on the deal and his birthday.
“It’s not my birthday,” he said. “It was just a cover.”
Walking to the bus post-practice with Jacob Markstrom, I asked him why he thought it was Hutton’s birthday. He said all the guys were saying it, so he joined in. I mentioned that even the Sedins were out of the loop on this one, to which Markstrom replied that he was the one who told the Sedins it was Hutton’s birthday.
Ai yai yai!
The guys who knew it wasn’t Hutton’s birthday, like Bo Horvat, played along with the birthday gag because his new contract “is like an early birthday present.”
There won’t be any birthday cake tonight during a team dinner in Dallas, but there will be pumpkin pie and all the traditional Thanksgiving delights.
And there will be Hutton, smiling, even though it’s not his birthday.
People always ask me about my social media mishaps and I’ve had some real blunders. But that Hutton birthday tweet would have been wall of shame bad.
I’d like to thank Duncan McMonagle, my former journalism teacher at Red River College in Winnipeg, for failing me on a Remembrance Day assignment many moons ago because I didn’t fact check.
Apparently I learned my lesson.
Happy American Thanksgiving!
Derek Jory – @NoJoryous