The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Chiefs

November 30, 2008

Mike Mastovich | ‘Rocky’ back for some hockey

Rocky will return to Cambria County War Memorial Arena this evening.

Garrett Burnett, a fan favorite during his 34 mostly memorable and often colorful games with the Johnstown Chiefs, will traverse the halls he once roamed while wearing a black cape with his nickname scripted across the back. Burnett and Somerset County Olympian Sam Sacksen will participate in promotional appearances during the Chiefs’ game against Florida.

Anyone still possessing a black T-shirt with Burnett’s image and a blood-dripping No. 55 certainly remembers this tough guy. The Chiefs and former coach Nick Fotiu helped Burnett work his way to the NHL with the Anaheim Ducks for one season. Rocky was poised to stick in the show a bit longer after securing a one-way NHL deal, but the lockout and a changing climate when the game returned diminished the need for fighters.

Burnett remembers Johnstown and its fans. He’ll appreciate this visit even more because of recent life-threatening events that left him in a coma and resulted in his having to relearn basics we take for granted – walking, talking and eating.

“In my life, I never got to be successful in anything without having sacrifice,” Burnett said Saturday, prior to attending the Pittsburgh Penguins game at Mellon Arena. “This is more adversity. It’s kind of a huge speed bump I’ve got to try to overcome. I feel I can overcome it by being strong and having a strong family on my side.

“Mentally, I will try to live on and not get too caught up in it. Hopefully that will lead me to some better days ahead. The past two years have been pretty miserable to deal with.”

Burnett allegedly was assaulted in the early hours of Dec. 26, 2006 outside of a night club in North Delta, British Columbia.

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