We’re just minutes out from Sidney Crosby’s presser and I’m already numb from the pain. But not from anything speculative or from the non-stop rumour mill that Crosby generates on a daily basis. Plainly put, what the heck happened in the 2011 off-season?
Today came word of a plane crash that not only took most of the lives of those on board, but those of our cherished game. Fathers, sons and idols of many and we are still only getting sketchy info as to the identities of those who were killed. Still fresh on our minds is the still unanswered suicide of enforcer Wade Belak and the memory of Rypien and Boogaard.
As Penguins fans, we are holding are breath, waiting for whatever it is Sid has to say and what will take shape as training camp is looming. But the bigger picture has me literally frozen to my couch in disbelief to all that has unfolded after the Bruins won Lord Stanley. Actually, I was rubbing shoulders with the Cup a week ago as local hero and friend Adam McQuaid had his day with the Cup and celebrated it with the people of his small hometown.
I came away not only with the some lasting memories but a small but building anticipation for the 2011-2012 season. But somehow I cannot comprehend what the future for hockey will really mean beyond today not only for me but for fans of the game as a whole.
We put our hockey idols on a pedestal-I know I have most of my life. I have lived, breathed and been involved in the game in someway every day for the last 30 years. I've been involved and present for 2 Stanley Cup parades in 2000, and this just last week. I have celebrated like I've won and gotten my name on the Holy Grail. I try to teach my son the importance that The Cup has not only to hockey but what it means to win it. The sacrifice, the journey filled with heartache and pain. But the elation that victory and the Cup can bring not only personally but to the people in our cities and communities.
But as I use the word sacrifice I am filled with so much confusion just a week removed from seeing our 2009 Penguins engraving on The Stanley Cup. The off-season is a time to recharge the batteries and to look forward to not only getting the season going, but for me the 82 game dance that brings the real season to the forefront: the playoffs.
But too much has been lost this summer and now what happened today. People shouldn`t be dying from hockey and from anything that comes with playing the game. Substance abuse is evil and suicide is still almost something we cannot talk about in public without forming conflicting opinions. But neither is despair and fear and I`m feeling a little of both right now.
Who was on the plane the plane that crashed in Russia? Anyone you knew? Anyone we cheered or jeered for? Frankly, that doesn’t matter now or at any point. I just can’t get my head around anything that has left me so confused when it came to hockey as to what has taken place the summer. I’ve always played and cheered with the same enthusiasm my whole life and I can’t wait to throw my Fleury jersey on come opening night in Vancouver. ( Sid’s in the closet-I don’t want to jinx him) But right now, I just want to know: What the heck happened in the 2011 off-season?