By now, most Canadians and perhaps four Americans know the Ottawa Senators have advanced to the Stanley Cup finals. Shrugging off years of playoff futility, the Sens have rolled through the first three rounds in impressive fashion. It’s pretty exciting stuff, and I actually get shivers at the thought of a Stanley Cup parade down Elgin Street.
I am a fan, but I’m not a fanatic. Listening to the sports talk radio station over the weekend, I was struck by how seriously some people take the game. One woman said she knew the Sens would win because it was her birthday, and they just had to win to honour her big day. Another said she had to go outside during overtime because she just knew the Sens would score if she went outside. That’s right, honey, Alfie decided to pull the trigger on his wrist shot because you weren’t watching the game.
I made fun of these people and their silly superstitions, mocked their illogical rituals. So many poor, pathetic people pinning so much hope and happiness on the outcome of a hockey game.
I took it all back on Monday morning when I sat down for breakfast with my newspaper. The front page had a big picture of a three-year old boy who suffered from a rare form of cancer. Over the past few weeks there have been a number of stories about his love of hockey and how the community has rallied behind him so he could have the opportunity to attend Sens games and practices.
His condition worsened last week, and he wasn’t expected to make it through the weekend. On Saturday, he sat at home, surrounded by his family, and watched the Sens game. A couple of hours after their victory, he died. I teared up at the thought of the pain this boy and his family were in, and how they took such joy in being together to share their love of hockey and their local heroes.
So, I’ve been humbled. I’ll try to be more understanding in the coming week when I hear a Sens fan claim he has a lucky hat that guarantees a Sens victory. I won’t mock the woman who thinks the Sens will shut out Detroit for four straight games. And maybe I’ll let myself believe that I, too, can influence the outcome of a hockey game 1,000 miles away simply by wearing my lucky shirt.