Craig Anderson left the Ottawa Senators last week after hearing the news that his wife, Nicolle, had been diagnosed with cancer. It wasn’t an easy decision, but after back-up goalie, Andrew Hammond, went down with an injury, Nicolle Anderson pushed her husband to rejoin his second family, as they needed his help.
We all know the story after that. After an incredible 37-save performance, Craig Anderson and the Ottawa Senators shut out the Oilers last night. The game finished on a very emotional note, with Anderson skating back onto the ice as he was announced first star. Rogers Place remained packed, as all the fans stayed to pay their respect to Anderson while giving him a standing ovation. Cam Talbot had even stayed on the bench to show his respect to his fellow goaltender. It was a great moment in hockey to see fans and players put aside the outcome of the game to care for an opponent and his family.
After gong through the #Sens room post-game you realize the OIlers didn’t have a chance tonight. Ottawa wasn’t losing this one.
— Mark Spector (@SportsnetSpec) October 31, 2016
The amazing thing is that this wasn’t the first time in hockey history where fans and players have come together to care for a fellow player/coach/fan. Here are three more:
Martin St Louis
On May 8th, 2014, Martin St. Louis’ mother passed away unexpectedly from a heart attack. The Rangers had just landed in Pittsburgh after going down 3-1 in the series to the Penguins. There is never a good time to hear the news that St Louis heard that night, and the fact that it was the second round of playoffs, made the situation even more difficult. St Louis flew back to Montreal that evening to join his family. After long discussions with his family and team management, Marty made the decision to join the Rangers for Game 5 the following day.
I cannot relate to what St Louis went through that week, but it amazes me how he had the courage to continue the playoffs with his team. This emotional moment was caught on tape during Marty’s pre-game warm-ups as Canadian Olympic teammate, Sidney Crosby, approaches him to pass on his condolences. Once the puck dropped, Crosby and St Louis were enemies as usual, but for that one moment before the game, they were people putting everything aside to discuss something more important than the game.
The New York Rangers rallied that night for St Louis and his family, beating the Penguins 5-1. For the first time in franchise history, the Rangers came back from a 3-1 series deficit to beat the Penguins, eventually landing themselves in the Stanley Cup Finals. This was the first time out of five appearances that the Rangers had beaten the Penguins in a playoff series as well.
The national anthem sung at the first game in the TD Garden after the Boston Marathon bombings is one of the most emotional anthems you’ll ever watch. After the Senators-Bruins game was postponed due to the Boston lockdown, fans filled the arena when Buffalo is in town for the next game, with ‘Boston Strong’ signs and American flags. Sports teams across the country also held pre-game ceremonies and moments of silence in tribute to Boston, and those affected by the attack.
The building erupted when Daniel Paille scored the first goal for the Bruins, which had the whole city excited. Boston ended up losing the game in a shootout to the Sabres, but at the end of the day, it didn’t matter. What mattered is that the country came together as one to prove that terror attacks will not break them. The game concluded with players from both teams saluting the crowd in solidarity.
The first home game for the Montreal Canadiens in 2014 after the passing of Jean Beliveau, a 10-time Stanley Cup winner, was one to remember. With his family in the building, the Habs honoured Beliveau in a pre-game ceremony that brought Mrs. Beliveau to tears, while waving and thanking the crowd. This is another very emotional national anthem. The anthem is one of the best ways for fans at the game to express themselves. Emotions are high, so the fans express that through their country’s song.
I’m not asking you to watch this whole video, but as seen at the 8:55 mark, the Canadiens organization honoured Jean Beliveau by leaving his seat, beside his wife, empty with his jersey draped over it. Montreal showed an incredible amount of respect with this move, as it ended their 422 game sellout streak. To this day that seat is dedicated to Jean Beliveau, and a ticket for it cannot be purchased.
These are just a few, of an endless amount of moments where players and teams have put the game aside to show respect for somebody. Other examples off the top of my head include the Paris attacks, the Orlando shooting, and the passing of Gordie Howe.
Situations like these remind us that hockey is just a game, and we are all out there for the same reason. When one of us struggles with the harshness of life outside of the game, we are all there for one another.