It’s been a long season for the Seattle Sailors. The team has struggled on both ends of the ice, and is on pace to finish with the lowest season win total in SHL history. Practically the only time they make headlines is when their hot-tempered coach goes on a rampage.
It’s also been a long season for Sailors D Dean Humphrey. The lanky blueliner, nicknamed “Crazy Legs” for both his excellent speed and somewhat awkward-looking skating style, has spent the season on Seattle’s third line, where he has yet to record a goal (though he has 11 assists). His most memorable moment this season came when he tripped over his own stick on a breakaway and fell down, costing the Sailors a shot at a goal.
Given the Sailors’ sad record and Humphrey’s unremarkable performance, the defenseman was surprised when he started seeing oversized renderings of his own head dotting the stands at Century 21 Arena in midseason. And he was even more surprised when he started seeing a banner in the upper deck reading “Dean Humphrey Fan Club.”
“I mean, I’ve never done anything to deserve a fan club, really,” said Humphrey. “And I didn’t think I really had any fans outside of my own family.”
At first, Humphrey assumed the sign must be a joke. But upon further investigation, he discovered that he does indeed have a fan club — one that numbers over 100 members. As unlikely as it seems, he is the first and to date only Sailors player with his own fan club.
The Dean Humphrey fan club was the brainchild of Kyle Winstrop, a college student and part-time barista from Bellevue. He was inspired to create the club on the night the Humphrey tripped over his own stick. “Me and my friends were in the dorm watching the game when that happened,” said Winstrop. “And we all broke out laughing. Like, this guy gets paid to do this, and he trips on his own stick? He’s my hero! We formed the Fan Club that night.”
While he admits that the Fan Club started as a joke, Winstrop said that his attitude shifted to genuine adoration over the course of the season. “Crazy Legs is an amazing dude, man,” said Winstrop. “If you saw him on the street, no way he looks like an athlete. But he goes out there and plays anyway, and he doesn’t give a damn what you think. We in the Fan Club admire that kind of attitude. Watching him play and seeing him in interviews, you can tell he’s a freak at heart. And Seattle is a town full of freaks, so he fits right in.”
Last Tuesday, the Fan Club showed up en masse to see their hero play against Michigan. Humphrey met with them before the game, signing autographs and shooting the breeze with them for over half an hour.
“They’re a cool group of guys,” said Humphrey. “We talked a lot about music and gaming and life in general, not just hockey. It was a lot of fun to meet them. It kind of proved that this whole thing is real, not just a big prank.”
Winstrop was similarly delighted by the meeting. “We actually got to meet the man himself,” said the Fan Club president. “And he was just as awesome as I imagined. I can die happy now.”