It would be remiss to not mention anything about this today.
One year ago, forty-four hockey players of the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl hockey team, including two who proudly wore the burgundy and blue, were killed in an unspeakable aviation tragedy in Russia.
Forty-four hockey players will never lace up their skates again. Forty-four players will never feel the sensation of wind passing by and around them while skating on the ice. Forty-four players who scored goals, blocked shots, and forged a bond by the fires one can only find in a locker room, will no longer do any of those things.
Our Avalanche family was doubly affected by the losses of both Karlis Skrastins and Ruslan Salei on that fateful day. Several other teams were likewise stricken by the loss of former players, and we, fans of the game, were similarly affected. Most of all, the families of everyone on board that plane, have endured the most intimate and personal of grief.
When we cheer for a team, we don't just cheer for a symbol or a carefully-designed color scheme. We have players we come to embrace. They become our players. They become our players because we adopt them as ours.
Our hockey family grows with each player we adopt. When a tragedy like this strikes, it strikes at the heart of our family, and while we may not share ties that bind like genetics or blood, we share things unique and binding to a fanbase such as community, passion, and loyalty. Today, our community and several other hockey communities worldwide took pause to reflect on the losses experienced a year ago today.
Sometimes, words are difficult to come by during trying times. Sometimes, there are no "perfect" words to capture or illustrate the complexity of emotions people feel in times like this. All we know is we feel a certain way, whether we fully understand the hows or whys, or whether it makes sense to feel that way or not.
Times like these are the times when community draws close. Knowing that there are those out there who perhaps feel the same way and don't quite know how to express those feelings can bring a sense of comfort, perhaps even relief, that there are people out there feeling the same way, that there's no reason to feel isolated in one's feelings of grief or want or lack of reconciliation of those overwhelming feelings.
Times like these are when we need each other.
Whether it's right or wrong, justified or otherwise, if anyone has felt a sense of loss or a void inside of yourself as the reminders of what happened last year in Russia are ever-present in the hockey world on this day, know that you're not alone. There are others out there feeling just like you.
We lost two of our own on that day, but we're not alone. We have each other to lean on, grieve with, and as time moves forward, rally alongside, fully immersed in the passions and joys that our great game of hockey affords us.
Perhaps on this day, it would be remiss to not mention that as well.