HARTFORD, Conn – So here’s all that Hartford Wolf Pack goaltender Dov Grumet-Morris has going on…
He has an 18-month-old daughter at home, his wife Rachel, who is a research physician, will be having their second child within the next two weeks, and he just got traded almost across the country, from San Antonio to Hartford.
Ho hum, pretty dull life, right?
Grumet-Morris, who was dealt to the Wolf Pack by the San Antonio Rampage December 13 in exchange for future considerations, is balancing being a dad with the challenges of hockey’s most demanding position. He is the first to concede, however, that Rachel faces an even bigger juggling act, dealing with being the mom of a toddler, the final stages of pregnancy, a husband whose work address just changed by about 2,000 miles, and a gig of her own doing blood platelet research for trauma surgery with the U.S. Army.
Not a lot of room left on that plate.
“It’s tough, she’s an amazing woman,” Grumet-Morris said Wednesday of his better half’s situation. “But I think we’re both people who aren’t satisfied with just kind of existing. We definitely want to continue to push ourselves, intellectually, professionally, and then having a family is also something that we’re not willing to compromise on.
“We wanted to start a family, and I know some people think it’s either-or, especially in this line of work, but I believe that working and doing things away from your home life sets a good example for your kids, and helps them to strive to do, not necessarily what it is that you and your wife do, but to understand that hard work is what not only provides for your family, but also gives you something that’s important in your life.
“I want to succeed in my job because it’s important to me, because I want to feel fulfilled as a person. And I don’t think I could be as good of a dad, and I don’t think my wife can be as good of a mother, without those other things in our lives, because it pushes us to be better and makes us more complete and happy.”
His wife obviously gets plenty of intellectual stimulation in her job at the Institute for Scientific Research in San Antonio, but how does Grumet-Morris, who holds a Harvard degree, push himself intellectually in the environment of pro hockey?
“I take classes on the side, I’m studying for graduate-level entrance exams,” he said. “So I do things on my own to push myself. It might not be exactly on the same pace that it would be if I had a normal job, but that’s OK. I enjoy myself here at the rink, and then I try to do things outside of the rink as well.”
According to Grumet-Morris, the job of goaltending, by its very nature, offers plenty of opportunity to better oneself.
“It’s fun, it’s physically demanding,” he said. “It’s not intellectually stimulating in the traditional sense, but as a goaltender, it is more of a thinking position. And so there is a lot more that you can do to challenge yourself mentally.”
An individual with an Ivy League education might tend to over-think the game, but Grumet-Morris’ playing style exudes less of a cerebral, technical approach and more of a reliance on battle level and athleticism.
“I would probably say that my style is indicative of my age, and the teachings that I’ve had growing up,” Grumet-Morris analyzed. “I’ve added a lot of technique over the years and I do some things, but I feel that it’s an athletic position, you’re a professional athlete, you can’t just surrender to your technique and say, ‘This is the only thing I’m going to do and that’s it.’ Because at the end of the day, we talk about competing on the ice, and that takes different forms for different players, but the way that I believe it manifests itself for goaltenders is to fight to stop the puck, and not just to be a slave to the technique. So for me, that’s the mantra that I play off of.”
The role of goaltender also demands intense focus, and it would seem as though things like fatherhood, being away from one’s family, studying for graduate exams, might distract from that required concentration. Grumet-Morris feels, though, that they can also be a help.
“It depends on the person,” he said. “Some guys take a very simplistic approach. They don’t really think about much, they just kind of play. And I think in those situations, for those players, it’s best when it’s less-is-more, there’s not much going on outside of hockey. Conversely, there are other players who will sometimes over-analyze things, and in that case it’s actually better when they have other things away from hockey, so they’re not continuously mulling over the same things all the time.”
So Grumet-Morris relishes the fullness of his life away from the rink, and looks forward to the fun and competition that he finds on the ice and in the locker room. Not every pro hockey player is an Ivy League grad, but it’s clear that Grumet-Morris finds much in common with his fellow Wolf Pack personnel. What about Rachel, though? Does a woman who spends her working hours in hospitals and medical labs enjoy the company of other hockey players’ wives and significant others?
Grumet-Morris says yes, that is, when Rachel has time to come watch her husband perform.
“Usually, we’re actually living in two different cities, although we’ve been living in the same city for the last couple years,” Grumet-Morris said. “So she doesn’t get a lot of interaction, as much as what most of the other wives get. She has friends on every team, but she actually doesn’t come to a lot of games, for three reasons now. One, she works a lot, so she literally doesn’t make the games because she’s working. Two, she has now one kid and another on the way, so she’ll have two kids, and that’s a lot, to bundle everyone up and come to the rink. The third is, I’ve played 550 pro games, plus 145 college games, and quite frankly, I think she’s just tired of watching games.”
Grumet-Morris has definitely not tired of playing, even as his life gets ever busier and more complex. And he is thrilled to be back in Hartford, where he had a fine stretch run with the Connecticut Whale in 2010-11, even given the difficult timing of the move.
“I’m certainly very happy to be here,” he said. “I’ve been here before, I enjoy the organization, and I want to be part of a winning team. I want to be part of the solution to help Hartford make the playoffs this year, but it’s not necessarily the most convenient time for me. But my wife’s a very understanding woman, and I think that this is a great opportunity. We will work out the details, the logistics of making this situation work for our family.
“We plan on moving the family out here to Hartford in the next month, and we want to be here.”
Story by Bob Crawford of the Hartford Wolf Pack