Shift change: Ex-Everblades call SWFL home, thriving in new careers

Four firefighters among former Blades blazing new career paths in SW Fla.

William DeShazer/Staff
Estero firefighter Lt. and former Everblades player Terry Lindgren, left, instructs firefighter Anthony Fite before vertical vent training at the Estero Fire Station on Wednesday April 24, 2013.

Photo by WILLIAM DESHAZER // Buy this photo

William DeShazer/Staff Estero firefighter Lt. and former Everblades player Terry Lindgren, left, instructs firefighter Anthony Fite before vertical vent training at the Estero Fire Station on Wednesday April 24, 2013.

Shift change: Ex-Everblades in new careers

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They came to play, then decided to stay.

Many of the biggest names in Florida Everblades history have made Southwest Florida their homes after their playing careers were finished.

Longtime Everblades stars, like Tom Buckley and Ernie Hartlieb, are now thriving in their new careers, and many met their future wives while playing for the team. Many, like firefighters Terry Lindgren and Matt Pagnutti, are still considered community heroes in their new line of work.

And a few are sharing their love of the game, coaching youth teams.

The players hail from the frozen North, and like many Southwest Florida residents, decided shorts and flip flops were a better look than winter coats and gloves.

“Most of them are Canadian or from God forsaken outposts in the north,” Everblades team president Craig Brush said. “They come to Southwest Florida and find it’s a pretty nice place to be. Our players are always readily available to the public, so they often make a lot of contacts and they use that local celebrity to the best advantage. A lot of the guys have made nice careers for themselves down here when they were done playing for us.”

Many of the former Blades remain friends and get together frequently, whether it be in charity hockey games or backyard barbecues. They all remain connected to the team, as well.

“I’m glad to call them all my friends,” Brush said. “Friends that are my children’s ages, but friends nonetheless. Last year when we got to the finals, a lot of those guys attended all the finals games. They were as happy to see us win (the Kelly Cup) as the players on that team.”

The Daily News caught up with six former Everblades standouts, and they couldn’t say enough about Southwest Florida, their new careers and their time with the area’s most popular professional sports team. Today’s entry is Part 1 of a five-part series.

Sunday:Four former Everblades put out fires instead of killing power plays

Monday: Brent McDonald

Tuesday: Ryan Brindley

Wednesday: Tom Buckley

Thursday: Ernie Hartlieb

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