Four Times The NHL Rallied Together

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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. 

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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

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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. 

Boston Strong

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. 

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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. 

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Jean Beliveau

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. 

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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.


  • Oiler Al

    I say this with all respect to Mrs Andersen, but I, wonder how many other people in the crowd of 18,000 +
    have someone in their lifes at this time struggling with cancer etc., and did not get a standing ovation.

    Are well wishes for famous athletes only.?

    • Natejax97

      No Bud,

      When things like this happen, it gives us a chance to all stand and rally together against a terrible disease. And there is an honest sentiment and the reason why it is so wonderful is exactly your point. Almost everyone is touched by cancer in some way, so we can relate, we can reflect, and we can all know that we are not alone. That is what that was about at the end of the game last night.

    • Leef O'Golin

      I see your point, but most folks don’t get booed at their jobs either. I just think it’s comforting to see that people can rise above petty rivalries when things get seriously rough. If seeing real-life tragedies like these play out on TV make us more empathetic people than there’s hope for us yet. Cheers.

    • Rocklobzter

      Wow I wonder if you even thought before you wrote that… Obviously you can’t support and applaud every single person and family affected by cancer, but Jesus show some class bud.

      • Oiler Al

        Baggedmilk, for the record I am on your site many times a day,don’t always chirp in [show up as you call it].
        Agree or not my comment raised over 300 hits for you business. After reading your SA comment I decided not to respond to the various comments giving you yet more hits.

        I know you realize “guys” showing up pay your bills.

    • Shredder

      The problem with your comment is that you don’t understand that athletes are not just people, but symbols. If someone in my family had cancer, there wouldn’t be a standing ovation, true. But my family would rally together, and prepare for a fight.

      When an athlete’s family has an issue like cancer, the whole NHL and fanbase hears about it. What’s great isn’t that we’re just wishing him well, while my family wouldn’t get that kind of respect, it’s that symbolically everyone bands together and tells cancer to f*** off, and that as a human species we’re there for each other. That kind of banding together is representative of the human spirit and inspires other families to help each other out in tough times.

      Don’t think of it as ‘everyone deserves a gold star for going through their tough times’ – think of it more as let’s show how humanity is able to band together around a cause and help each other out. I’d pick someone famous as that symbol, wouldn’t you?

    • Derian Hatcher

      “We cheer for the underdog because we see ourselves in them”

      To This Day – by Shane Koyczan

      I just know that if you have been in any similar circumstances, people would be cheering for you and your wife.

    • Not to jump on, but this is such a idiotic statement I have to. “…I wonder how many other people in the crowd of 18,000 have someone in their lifes, (should be lives)….” THIS WAS FOR THOSE PEOPLE and THOSE PEOPLE WATCHING who are struggling with cancer…

    • Sheldon "Oilers Fan for Life!!!"

      We all live through our sports stars etc. When we honor them we also honor those whom are not named in the process. These kinds of public recognitions change the thinking of everyone in regards too things that often carry a stigma. All of society should welcome them and embrace the societal changes that they can bring.

      • Oiler Al

        I get some fans idolize their sports stars ,I simply asked the question ” are well wishes for famous atheletes only?I didnt call anyone names or disrespect the Andersons or the stigma of cancer.

        The same Anderson would normally get booed, if the
        story of his wifes illness was under wraps.In fact
        there is no story if Anderson isnt a star of the game and would not skate out for the star salute.

        There are thousands of folks that go through trying issues with health etc, and there are thousands of folks that donate to cancer funds, hospitals etc. collectively adding up to more than athletes contribute.

  • stonedtodeath61

    I came on here yesterday to wish the Oil well, talk some hockey with Oiler fans and get a vibe for your team. It was a good experience as I was not looked upon as a troll. I had no idea Andy would start at that point and felt a loss was in the cards with an AHL goaltender V the Oil. You folks are a class act. The ovation for Andy and Talbot hanging around was impressive. The tweets from oiler bloggers, writers and fans following the game were over the top. as an organization our club has had a tough few years. Our GM- Cancer, assistant coach passing from cancer, the loss of a daughter of assistant coach Luc Richardson. Even our PA announcer has cancer at a tender young age. To get that support for Andy last night was amazing. Thanks for being real. Still a Sens fan but unless we meet in the finals, I am your newest Oiler fan. You’re amazing.