LEDUC, Alta. – As John Dick was flying from Australia to Alberta to be with his dying father, he decided that they would spend the next few awful, idle weeks in hospital watching hockey on TV.
They would make wagers on games and rekindle fond memories of a young boy and his dad cuddled together on the couch together as they hooted and hollered at the Edmonton Oilers.
“I was gonna rely on hockey for keeping his mind off of this horrible thing that’s happening inside of his body,” Dick recalled Monday.
The plan changed shortly after Dick got home to Leduc, a city just south of Edmonton. The NHL locked out its players and recently cancelled all games through Nov. 1.
Dick explained that his dad, who is suffering from terminal throat cancer, is on morphine and other medications that often make him forget about the lockout.
Most nights, while sitting in a small hospital room, Dick has to remind his father why they can’t turn on the game.
“He’s stuck watching the Kardashians ’cause there’s no NHL.”
Fed up with the lockout, the 31-year-old budding filmmaker decided to make a video pleading with the National Hockey League and its players to get the season started for his dad and other disheartened fans.
The video, titled “NHL Lockout Kills Dreams,” has been viewed about 50,000 times since it was posted on YouTube last Thursday. In the video, Dick’s father, 58-year-old Bruce, is shown lying in bed in his hospital gown and hooked up to whirring machines.
His son talks about how watching hockey used to give them both inspiration and comfort.
“How do I feel about the situation in the NHL?” Dick asks in the video. “I hope that the doctors and nurses that keep my dad alive get a raise and that you guys get your asses back on the ice before it’s too late.
“Remember what we play this game for.”
Dick said he and his father are surprised by the video’s popularity and the touching comments some viewers have posted. During his daily visits, Dick reads the responses to his dad.
“He gets pretty teary-eyed over it. I don’t think he expected people would care.”
One person recently posted: “Brings back so many painful memories as it reminds me being at the hospital at my mom’s bedside as she was dying of cancer too. I hope your dad will stick around to see the lockout end.”
Dick said that’s his wish as well—watching one last game with his dad before he dies.
Doctors told the man in August that he had four to six weeks left to live. Dick, who has spent the last 10 years living in Brisbane, quickly jumped on a plane.
His girlfriend in Australia also came to visit last month. Dick said he got down on one knee in the hospital room and proposed in front of his family, because his dad isn’t likely to live to see the two of them get married.
Dick said he was so excited that his father got to be part of the big moment that Dick rushed over to give him a hug before putting the ring on his girlfriend’s finger.
“I wanted to get dad involved with life. Because when you’re passing away like that you start dissocializing.
“I wanted my dad to be part of something.”
—By Chris Purdy in Edmonton