Great piece by Iain MacIntyre (Vancouver Sun) on the Canucks’ decision to cancel practice and attend Remembrance Day ceremonies at the National War Memorial instead.
Believing there are things more important than hockey – yes, even Tuesday’s 2-0 loss to the Montreal Canadiens – Canuck general manager Mike Gillis and coach Alain Vigneault have cancelled the usual morning skate in Ottawa and instead will walk with staff and players to the War Memorial to observe Remembrance Day.
For once, these National Hockey League millionaires have no special privileges. They’ll merely gather in the hotel lobby, and walk solemnly with their poppies and thoughts to the cenotaph, joining the crowd of thousands who gather annually at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.
They’ll watch and listen, see wreaths laid near the tomb of the unknown soldier, see the faces of war’s survivors and ponder the millions of lives sacrificed for freedom.
Perspective, Gillis believes, is a powerful thing.
“When you participate in the NHL, it’s easy to lose sight of other things that are very important,” he explained Wednesday. “It’s good for everyone to have some perspective about life. If these guys can go and see the emotions and the interaction of veterans, it will be a healthy and lasting memory.”
[update: 11/11/2010, 12:20 PM]
From Ben Kuzma (Vancouver Province), Canucks players share their memories of loved ones who served.
Sami Salo lost one grandfather to conflict in the First World War and another in the Second World War. Growing up, he was too young to understand what they endured, but a mandatory one-year stint in the Finnish army gave the Canucks defenceman needed perspective. That’s why he was excited to experience the national ceremony in Ottawa, where he previously played but never saw the event live. And going through basic training helped Salo understand what his grandfathers sacrificed.
Christian Ehrhoff had a grandfather who served in the German air force in the Second World War. He was captured on the Russian front and the Canucks defenceman was thinking of him Thursday.