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Real

So, after a conference call by its Board of Governors, the NHL has decided to suspend the regular season, just as the NBA did yesterday, because of the coronavirus pandemic. What began as something that seemed foreign and far away not so long ago on the evening news is real enough now.

While I’m not at a loss for words, I’m close. It’s at times like this, when something much bigger than the relatively small world of sports and hockey’s place in it, grabs the headlines, we tend to talk about how it lends perspective.  I suppose that’s true. I know it is. That said, and maybe it’s my age showing, most of my thoughts aren’t about how this pandemic is going to impact the NHL or the Edmonton Oilers.

I’m not thinking about how some people think suspending the season might be an overreaction or how long it might take to get things back up and running once we come out the other side of a situation that seems to change by the hour. I’m not worried about how or if the end of the regular season will unfold or if we’ll have playoffs. I’m not here, on a website dedicated to the Oilers, to make light of fandom, to tell people to get a grip on the big picture and forget about hockey because it doesn’t really matter.

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Hockey matters to me just like it matters to you, but I long ago put it in a place well down my personal list of what makes me get out of bed every day and get on with my life. Still, I care about the game enough that I’m wondering if what I’m writing right now will even make sense. I’m rattled, so I know this isn’t the crispest piece of work I’ve ever turned in here. Not much hockey content. So be it.

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WHAT’S NEXT?

Perspective? Right now, I’m worried about how my family and friends will get through this, especially those who are older and are particularly susceptible to this virus. I’m not worried about those who want to argue coronavirus isn’t that serious, that it’s not much worse than the flu. I don’t know if that’s true, and neither do most of the people arguing about it on social media. I’ll defer to the medical people who know. I believe them.

I’m thinking about my son Sam and wondering if he’s safe at school, safe anywhere else but right beside me at home. Does he go to badminton tryouts today after school? We’ll decide. Does he go to his basketball academy on Saturday? No, that’s not going to happen – too many people in a confined area. Am I being overly cautious? Maybe. I don’t care.

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I’m thinking about my friend Bryn Griffiths, who is battling stomach cancer and is particularly susceptible to a virus like this. Bryn is weak and compromised and fighting for his life. He doesn’t need this. He’s still two weeks away from having the surgery doctors hope will save his life — no guarantees. There are lots of people like Bryn out there.

While we take measures to protect ourselves from further spread of the virus, I’m thinking about all the people who are homeless in Edmonton, who don’t have the wherewithal to stay clean and safe, to run to the grocery store and stock up on toilet paper and wipes and food and everything else we’re hoarding. In the bigger picture I’m, wondering if this pandemic will impact an event like Hockey Helps the Homeless May 1 and the $300,000 it raises to help those who cannot help themselves through the Mustard Seed and Jasper Place Wellness Centre.

I hope there is a way to salvage the season and for fans to watch their teams play, for the Oilers go deep in the playoffs, but it’s not first and foremost on my mind today. Stay safe. Let’s get through this. That’s all I’ve got.

Previously by Robin Brownlee