Each day I got closer to leaving the paper, I was deeply touched by the people who reached out to me when I was going through a rough time, about to leave a job I loved and had wanted since I was 14 years old, to cover hockey.
Not the number of people but the people.
A former college hockey coach who has moved on to bigger and better things sent me a very encouraging email when I arrived home from one of my last days from work. It further affirmed my belief that the hockey world isn’t as much of a big world as it is really just one big community. We saw that during the Lokomotiv tragedy. We saw that with the deaths of Wade Belak, Rick Rypien and Derek Boogaard. We saw how people cared. We saw compassion. We saw people reach out to each other and help.
But the same night I received the email from the NHL coach – and I was still emotional and in shock – I found some hope, as I stumbled upon the story of Bracken Kearns.
Kearns made his NHL debut at the age of 30, when some hockey players are on the edge of becoming a has-been. Or a never-was.
Kearns chased the dream.
Kearns played in two games this season with the Panthers before being returned to their minor-league affiliate in San Antonio.
“It’s not a downer,” Kearns told the CBC. “Nobody likes to get sent down. But it was such a great experience and it went by so fast. It has been unbelievable being back.”
Let’s talk a little more about chasing the dream. And I’ll make it quick.
One of my favorite movies is “Rudy.” Not just because I’m a Notre Dame fan, but because there’s a very prophetic line in a story of a guy who chases down his dream. Rudy and his best friend, Pete, are sitting together during a lunch break at the mill, and Pete gives Rudy a Notre Dame jacket as a birthday gift.
“You’re the only one who ever took me seriously, Pete,” Rudy says.