Newest Greyhounds defenceman has youngster to admireMonday, September 03, 2012 by: Brad Coccimiglio
For new Soo Greyhounds defenceman Alex Gudbranson, courage is something he knows very well and doesn’t have to look very far to find.
In fact, all he has to do is look to his younger brother Dennis.
In 2004, Dennis was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia.
The younger Gudbranson was forced to undergo six months of intensive chemotherapy and, at the time, had appeared to have beaten the disease.
It was a year later that the Gudbranson family found out that the cancer had returned.
Doctors told the family that the only chance at survival was a bone-marrow transplant.
A 10-of-10 match was found from the national Canadian donor registry list in June 2005.
By the end of August 2005, Denis had undergone a successful transplant.
“The first time you hear it (that he had cancer), it’s pretty devastating knowing that your little brother might not make it through the next couple of months,” said Alex. “The first time it was devastating and (when it returned) you can just imagine how bad it was but he’s a trooper. He’s the guy who has the most heart I’ve ever seen.”
Dennis was declared cancer-free in August 2010.
“He’s one tough kid and I definitely look up to him,” said older brother Alex. “He’s definitely my idol for sure.”
At the time of being declared cancer-free, older brother Erik had just been selected in the first round of the NHL draft by the Florida Panthers while Alex had just been selected by the Kingston Frontenacs.
Alex spoke of how the hockey community in their hometown of Orleans as well as nearby Ottawa, rallied around the family during their trying times.
“The hockey community really took care of us,” said Alex. “Other families made meals for us (Erik and Alex) while our parents were at the hospital. It was definitely trying at times. It was the toughest thing I’ve had to deal with. Sometimes playing hockey just wasn’t that enjoyable to be honest, knowing that my little brother might not make it to the next day. It was tough, but luckily hockey was there for me.”
For Alex, the 2012-13 Ontario Hockey League season brings new opportunities after joining the Greyhounds following a summer trade from the Kingston Frontenacs, a move he called a mutual one between himself and the Frontenacs.
“Every hockey year is a huge year,” Alex said. “Unfortunately I didn’t get drafted (by an NHL team), but that’s alright. I wound up getting a free agent tryout with the Colorado Avalanche so teams are looking so this year is really important and I’m hoping to get selected next June.”
Photo courtesy James Egan Photography