The Shovel Guy is digging the attention

MORRIS DALLA COSTA -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 11:22 AM ET

The Memorial Cup is a showcase for the stars.

Sidney Crosby of the Rimouski Oceanic. Corey Perry of the London Knights. Shovel Guy from the John Labatt Centre.

Shovel Guy from the John Labatt Centre?

It just goes to show that no matter how insignificant a job or how low-key an existence you have, fame can be just around the corner. But just who the heck is Shovel Guy?

He is Andrew Kitt, a soon-to-be 25-year-old JLC worker.

He's a cross between Abe Lincoln (tall, lean, black hair and Abe-like beard) and George Stroumboulopoulos (nose-bridge piercing, two nose studs). Kitt, or simply Shovel Guy, comes out on the JLC ice surface during television timeouts of the Memorial Cup broadcasts with his shovel to clean up excess snow along the boards.

"I'd come out and Section 113 kept cheering when I skated by," said Shovel Guy, who has been working at the JLC almost two years. "A reporter from The Free Press wrote a few lines about it and when I got to work, they were razzing me about it. So I decided to play on it a little bit. When I skated by, I gave that section a little hand wave."

Maybe it's the jubilant atmosphere in this city. Maybe people just want to have fun. Whatever it is, the little wave took off.

Against the Ottawa 67's, Shovel Guy would come out to a rousing ovation. As he skated along the boards, fans would stand and cheer and pound the glass.

Whenever he would come out, the scrawl below the scoreclock would read, "Let's hear it for the Shovel Guy."

"It's caught me by surprise," Kitt said. "They put it on the big screen and soon half the place was cheering."

Years ago one of the most popular members of the grounds crew at Tiger Stadium was Herbie (Shortdog) Redmond. When he he raked the infield after the fifth inning, he would wave, doff his cap to the crowd and dance. The crowd loved him.

Shovel Guy has been such a hit that plans are being made to make him even more visible.

"We have a few surprises planned," said Dave Harris, director of marketing for Global Spectrum.

Meanwhile Shovel Guy was conducting newspaper and radio interviews yesterday, a usually introverted individual thrust into the limelight.

"Usually I'm on the fence," he said. "When the time comes, I can be fairly out there, but most of the time I'm laid back. This has been a big change doing this. Before, I was out there in the background doing my shovelling. Now everyone is watching me picking up snow."

Who knows what the future holds.

"My agent is working on a feature film deal with Miramax or some of those other guys," laughed Shovel Guy.

What might happen to his shovel if the Knights win the Memorial Cup?

"Who knows, maybe it will end up in the Hall of Fame or in a trophy case in the concourse," he said.

No matter what, Shovel Guy is going to enjoy what's going to be more than 15 minutes of fame.


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