Being a hockey fan is being a lot of things.
It’s being passionate. It’s being opinionated. It’s being diehard. It’s getting involved. It’s toeing the line and sometimes crossing it – and then being courteous and respectful towards your foe. It’s being able to battle or argue one minute and sit down for a drink the next.
Most of all, it’s about being part of a community.
A minor hockey player in a small outpost can find some relation to an NHL player who found the game in a similar situation. A minor hockey coach can find the same connection to a teacher at the pro level who has similar roots in the sport. Though the community is vast, the world is small and when it shakes we all feel the tremor.
And it shook again with another untimely death of a young player. As you probably know by now, Jordan Boyd, who was at his first rookie camp with the Quebec League’s Acadie-Bathurst Titan, felt discomfort in his chest and fell to the ice Monday. He was pronounced dead shortly after. He was only 16.
Boyd was just beginning to embark on his journey down the path of a prospect, but even though he was far from a household name, the stunned reactions from the hockey world quickly rolled in. The “RIP Jordan Boyd” Facebook page already has more than 30,000 members showing support. Condolences poured out on Twitter, from fans, to on-ice foes, scouts, pro players such as Eric Tangradi and Max Talbot and even from teams in outside leagues. Most of these people had likely never met, or even heard of, Jordan Boyd before Monday.
But he was a hockey person.
Alexei Cherepanov could have been any hockey player. The Lokomotiv tragedy could have been any team travelling to any game or tournament. Derek Boogaard could have been any fan or former player who has struggled with substance abuse, just as Tom Cavanagh or Rick Rypien could have been anyone who has battled depression. Jessica Ghawi could have been any one of us taking in a movie. Martin Richard could have been anyone enjoying a day out. And though not everyone in the game was directly connected to the people involved in these tragedies, they were hockey people, and in difficult times, hockey people stand together as one team.
Everyone in the hockey world is related. We feel the jolt, the pain and the unfairness of it all. We feel the connection. Jordan Boyd could have been any one of us, because we were all Jordan Boyd at one time – chasing the dream, to one degree or another.
There’s a lot to love about being involved in hockey. Not only are you a part of the most passionate supporters in sport, you’re part of an open-armed community that binds together through difficult times across allegiances, leagues and oceans. It’s why hockey has the best people of all the major sports. It’s why the hockey community is something special to be involved in.
It’s why the hockey world is so small.
Rest in peace Jordan. #JB17.
Rory Boylen is TheHockeyNews.com's web editor. His column appears regularly only on THN.com.
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