Any time I watch this video, I stand on the edge of tears, and I just think, why?
Two suicides. One lethal accident. Wade Belak, Rick Rypien and Derek Boogaard. A plane crash that killed 44 people, including a hockey team full of good people, and wonderful former NHL players, just two weeks ago.
To be honest, I was happy to see hockey back tonight, but sad at the same time. So many good people were lost this summer. If life were perfect,they should continue to be playing the game they love. The worst part on top of hearing about their tragic deaths was the stories that emerged afterwards.
The story of the late Karlis Skrastins’ family heading to the airport, his daughters happy to go on a trip to Europe, naive to the real reason of their departure. The story of Derek Boogaard’s mourning family, his relationship with Todd Fedoruk, and an entire fanbase in Minnesota rallying behind his memory. The story of Wade Belak as the ideal family man, a wonderful father of two kids, a loving husband, and, on the surface, the happiest man alive. The pictures of Josef Vasicek, holding the Stanley Cup, high above his head in euphoric victory.
Lastly, the tragic story of “The Beast”, Brad McCrimmon. He looked to get his head coaching career off the ground, but before he could coach one game…tragedy struck.
Even if I didn’t once speak to any one of the members of the hockey family killed this summer, I still grieved with every passing loss. Each was a shot in the chest, culminating with the massive sorrow of an unprecedented plane crash which felt like someone took all of the air out of my life. It got worse with the aforementioned stories. Now, we hear stories of current NHL players valuing their own lives, and paying tribute to fallen teammates, family members, and friends.
Sometimes I wonder how long it will take for hockey to feel right again. Or will it ever feel the same? Hockey players have never felt more human or felt more real than ever before. It would have hurt more had I been in the business already, but here I stand on the outside, hoping and wishing I had known them. What’s done is done, and I never did know them, and I never will.
In times like these, it just makes you realize just how important life is. Jaromir Jagr said it best in his press conference the other day.
“You just have to sometimes think that life is a little bit more than anything [here]. It gets me thinking that it could happen to anybody, anywhere. That’s why you should enjoy every minute of your life.”
To the people I know, we’re connected by bond of the hockey family. Someday, hockey will feel right again, and our mourning for the fallen souls will conclude, and we will move on. But until that day comes, we should value what all of these people brought to our lives, and the joy they gave other people as well.
It just makes you think, Rick Rypien should have heard that ovation the Jets faithful gave him tonight…
So until next time…enjoy tomorrow. You have the power to make it great, and worthwhile.