Inspired by name

DAN TOTH -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 12:12 PM ET


 "Be fired with enthusiasm or you'll be fired with enthusiasm."

 -- Vince Lombardi

 The words belong to the immortal football coach but still apply today to the Calgary Flames and, in particular, rookie Matthew Lombardi.

 His team has certainly been 'fired with enthusiasm' during its Stanley Cup playoff run and he's found a unique fan connected to that encouraging command, first uttered more than four decades ago.

 Vince Lombardi Jr. is son of the coaching legend, whose trademark was inspirational quotes and an unending demand for excellence.

 Although the Flames' Lombardi isn't directly related to the Lombardi family of Wisconsin and patriarch Vince, legendary coach of the Green Bay Packers of yesteryear, the Flames centre nonetheless enjoys a link to his famous namesake.

 Lombardi Jr. recently sent a letter to the Flames centre. He explained how he had performed a genealogical search, seeking a family tie.

 Although there apparently is none, Vince Lombardi Jr., offered his encouragement to the Flame before arriving in town Wednesday for a speaking engagement.

 "I got a letter from him during the season that said they'd looked into my family tree to see if I was related to them," explained Montreal-born Matthew before last night's game against the Wings.

 "Although we're not related after all, they still said they were proud a Lombardi is playing in the NHL and he considered me (part of the Lombardi family). It was pretty unbelievable when I got a letter from him talking about his family and his dad," continued Matthew, born more than a decade after Vince Lombardi, who died in 1970, coached his last game.

 "It's pretty cool, an honour and it was pretty awesome giving a jersey to him ."

 Although both sides considered getting the Lombardis together for a family meeting, of sorts, schedule conflicts prevented it.


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