The following was written on September 9th, 2011.
Hockey fans aren’t like other fans. We don’t wash our jerseys out of superstition.. all season. We put voo doo dolls in the uniforms of opposing teams. We forgo the beach on the last days of summer in favor of watching prospects practice in a frigid ice rink. We spend a large part of the season disagreeing with each other very loudly.
After a summer where three enforcers left us far too early, our community has been united in mourning again. We are shell shocked by the horrific plane crash that decimated Lokomotiv Yaroslavl, killing 44 of the 45 people on board.
I haven’t followed the KHL since Lightning players went to Russia during the lockout. In spite of this, Wednesday’s heart breaking news has shaken me to the core. I have been a wreck. Judging by the comments of other fans around the world, I am definitely not alone in this.
The world of hockey is a whole lot smaller than it appears. That is no more evident than right now. It seems as though players on every NHL team knew one or more of the men on the plane. Steve Yzerman and Pat Verbeek knew head coach Brad McCrimmon. Dominic Moore played with Pavol Demitra in Minnesota while Brett Clark was Ruslan Salei’s teammate in Colorado. The connections spread out over the map like a spider web. For my team and yours too.
In trying to figure out why people on the other side of the world from Russia and the KHL are feeling so deeply about this tragedy, I hit upon a common thread. When you meet a fellow hockey fan, you meet a friend. Everyone involved in the sport from the front office to the nosebleed seats is a fan at heart. That is why we are so tightly knit. It doesn’t matter what team you root for or what country you call home. We are a family.
After being knocked down so many times this off season, I am so thankful the hockey family is strong enough to hold each other up. We dry our tears, straighten our backs, and look forward to a clean sheet of ice.