It has been a long offseason.
The deaths of Derek Boogaard,, and still sting, and the tragedy of Lokimotov still creeps into the subconciousness whenever you see a plane take off on TV.
It seems that no matter where you turn those words are present. From Puck Daddy to TSN to the blogosphere, every community feels compelled to acknowledge their deaths before officially kicking off the regular season—to ignore them would be insincere considering the summer of pain we all experienced. And although that pain was experienced via osmosis, and unfortunately became an opportunity for some to wave the gavel of self-interest and reach a verdict that helped bolster their own cause, it was nonetheless a summer that was tragic. We did not know these individuals personally, nor did we necessarily care about them as individuals before their abrupt deaths—our knowledge of them was solely based on the game they played and the game we watched. That was our commonality.
And that’s what makes this summer mean so much. Those feelings of loss weren’t due to personal attachment, player attachment, or team attachment. Those feelings of loss weren’t because of skill set or superstardom or how many awards each guy had on their mantle. It was because they played hockey and loved the game, gave their heart and soul to the game. That made them a part of the community, every single community, even if we didn’t understand their issues or have the ability to understand what their families are experiencing and will continue to experience long after we move on. It made them a part of our us, even if for just a day, and showed that the hockey community is a resilent and compassionate one despite the fierce competition that occurs on the ice.
That is a beautiful thing.
For all of us here at Fear The Fin, the beginning of the season is a time of unadulterated passion and excitement for what lies ahead. Another strong roster, another Stanley Cup contender, and another season of ups and downs and fits and starts await. But more so than ever I think, this season is a celebration. A celebration of resilency and competition, a celebration of a game that, along with being the greatest in the world, is able to bring us together in a way that nothing else can. It is a game that has virtues beyond the product you see on the ice; no matter how scientifically you deconstruct the darker elements and lay them out for all to see, this sport transcends those things. Ultimately, it delivers love.
Life is finite, death is permanent, hockey is the thread that binds those things together. Life and death and hockey.
Let us pay homage to all of them tonight.