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R.I.P. Mike Mathers, 1972-2008

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In their history, the Washington Capitals have made 369 picks in NHL Amateur and Entry Drafts. Names like Ovechkin, Stevens and Carpenter (and yes, Joly and Volchkov) are familiar to most Caps fans. The name Mike Mathers? Less so.

The Caps selected Mathers with their eighth round pick (191st overall) in the 1992 draft, but the winger from Edmonton by way of Kamloops never made it to the NHL. In fact, he never made it to the AHL. But he did play a franchise record 379 games for the Fresno Falcons of the WCHL (now the ECHL) and is the Falcons all-time leader in goals with 150.

Mathers died in his sleep on June 1, and while his name might not mean anything to you (it didn't to me), the man apparently meant a lot to former Falcons and the entire hockey community in Fresno. The Fresno Bee shares some of Mathers' teammates' and coach's memories, memories of a guy who wasn't blessed with soft hands but worked tirelessly to try to make his dream come true, only to come up short - like so many before and after him. He might not have panned out for the Caps, but it sounds like he did alright in the eyes of those who knew him.

Mike Mathers was just 35-years-old.