As sports fans in general (and hockey fans in particular) continue to mourn the tragic plane crash in Russia that claimed 43 lives (including players and coaches from the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl KHL team), many people have named the summer of 2011 as the worst-ever in the history of hockey. And when you consider the sudden deaths of Derek Boogaard, Rick Rypien and Wade Belak (all within the last four months), it’s hard to disagree.
This latest tragedy affects different people across the world for various reasons. Canucks fans are fondly remembering Pavol Demitra, who played here for two seasons and had an excellent 2010 Winter Olympics tournament here in Vancouver. Combined with Rypien’s death last month, Luc Bourdon’s death in 2008, and the death of Taylor Pyatt’s fiancee, Carly, in 2009, it’s been an extremely difficult three-year period for fans on the West Coast.
The Czech Republic lost 3 ex-NHL players in Jan Marek, Karel Rachunek, and Josef Vasicek. And both Lokomotiv head coach Brad McCrimmon and the recently-retired Wade Belak were born in the prairie province of Saskatchewan.
But as tragic as these hockey deaths have been, sadly these types of deaths happen every day… just to less famous people. We see stories and read accounts of people being killed by earthquakes, washed away by tsunamis, and starving to death in Africa. But for some reason we don’t always give these people the same amount of attention that we do to professional athletes.
Not to mention our own family members and friends who may be suffering from disease, illness, and disability. They often fight a silent yet noble battle with little to no fanfare.
The truth is, catastrophe and disaster bring people together. Despair can lead to hope…and we can only hope that tragedy will lead to triumph.
As much as it pained us to see the Vancouver Canucks lose game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals, recent events both inside and outside of the sporting world help put things into proper perspective.
Don’t get me wrong: I’ll still be screaming, cheering, and jumping around like a madman whether I’m at Rogers Arena or in the friendly confines of my living room.
But I hope to do so with the proper perspective. Because perspective helps us gain an appreciation of the bigger picture and reminds us as to what’s important.