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The Good Sport: NHL team’s puppy to become companion for boy with autism

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The news can be depressing at times. Thankfully, the sports world usually isn’t.

Yahoo Sports is taking a weekly look at the true spirit of sport — the highlights that will warm your heart and the acts of kindness that go beyond the game.

Come on. Let’s take a load off together.

Ranger the puppy finds a new home

'Ranger' has officially left the organization after nearly a year with the team. (Instagram//@nyrangerspup)'Ranger' has officially left the organization after nearly a year with the team. (Instagram//@nyrangerspup)
‘Ranger’ has officially left the organization after nearly a year with the team. (Instagram//@nyrangerspup)

The New York Rangers have captured plenty of headlines in the early stages of the 2019 offseason.

The organization was able to sign the biggest free agent on the market on July 1 when Artemi Panarin agreed to a seven-year, $81.5 million deal. While that shook the hockey world for obvious reasons, precisely one week later the team had to announce a major departure: Ranger.

It is unknown at this time whether or not the team’s puppy leaving has anything to do with the Rangers’ tight salary cap situation. Nonetheless, following nearly a year with the squad, he’s found a new home with 16-year-old Dan Zarro and his family.

As the post on Ranger’s Instagram page from Monday afternoon explains, Dan has autism and will receive plenty of love from his new four-legged friend.

Ranger officially joined New York in August of 2018. Accompanied by his raiser Saxon Eastman, he went to Madison Square Garden daily and became a big part of the team.

His first time on the ice stole hearts and earned him plenty of attention online.

In the past 11 months, he’s garnered over 46,000 followers on Instagram and 11,000 on Twitter.

Individuals around the world became a part of his journey to become a service dog for BluePath Service Dogs. During his time in the Big Apple, he threw out first pitchesrode the Zamboni and became close with many of the Rangers, as well as their head coach David Quinn.

Unfortunately, Eastman revealed in a blog post earlier this summer that Ranger “doesn’t have the correct temperament to be a full autism service dog.” However, his “skilled companionship” will dramatically improve the life of his new friend, Dan.

Additionally, Ranger’s journey raised plenty of awareness for service dogs and began a trend of NHL teams welcoming puppies with service dog potential into their dressing rooms.

Canucks star attends fan’s high school graduation

Quinn Hughes’ career as a professional hockey has barely begun, but that doesn’t mean the 19-year-old isn’t taking advantage of the opportunity before him.

The young blueliner broke into the NHL at the end of the 2018-19 season after his campaign with the University of Michigan Wolverines came to an end. In his five games with the Vancouver Canucks, he showed that he belonged amongst the sport’s best. Now, he’s proving it off the ice, too.

Earlier this week, the seventh-overall pick in the 2018 NHL Draft surprised Jonathan Myskiw — an enormous Canucks fan living with autism and an anxiety disorder — at his high school graduation in British Columbia.

Myskiw invited Hughes, one of his favourite players, to the ceremony where he became Fawkes Academy’s first secondary school graduate.

“I could tell how much it meant to him and, for me, I think it’s important to try to do nice things and be a nice person,” Hughes explained. “I felt like this was a good opportunity to try to do that.”

Barely out of high school himself, the budding star made the magnitude of Myskiw’s accomplishment clear. Becoming the first graduate of a school specifically for those with autism and other developmental disabilities is no small feat.

“Congrats, man,” Hughes told Myskiw on his big day. “Awesome stuff. Really happy for you.”

We’re sure that Myskiw wearing the Canucks’ colours from the 1980’s and early 90’s wasn’t a bad idea, either.

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