Canucks and Beyond

Perspective on a Nice Kid

05/29/2008 at 8:12pm EDT

A warning in advance—this post is more personal than hockey-ish. But that seems appropriate today.

When the news came in about Luc Bourdon’s death this morning, I had been idly writing a post I’d been pondering over the last few days. I’d been thinking on the subject of how hockey fans might sometimes benefit from a perspective served by less “analysis” and more “passion.”

I think that hockey fans—while blessed with a remarkable depth of media coverage (particularly online) of their favorite sport—also lose something with all that exposure. That after a point, perhaps the endless analysis and critique makes us cold to the emotional connection and passion we once had for the game.

And so hockey becomes something which is no longer about our childhood heroes and their beautiful, skillful plays. Instead we become preoccupied with the most finite statistics and breakdowns, and occasionally mean-spirited (rather than useful) criticism.

As a result, so many fans seem to be having less fun with their favorite sport, since everything is subject to a mental ‘video replay’ and nothing is left of the game to just be enjoyed and experienced for what it is—a passionate sport with passionate people. Both the players and the fans.

Which brings me back to Luc Bourdon. I didn’t know him at all and am in no position to eulogize his loss, but by all accounts he was a nice young man. Yet for most of us, our acquaintance with him was simply as a talented hockey player with a great future.

But today I think it’s important to remember that he was both things—the nice young man and the talented hockey player.

A member of CDC named 70Blue shared the vignette I’ve reprinted below, a short memory of Luc Bourdon. It’s not a big, dramatic story, but I think it puts his loss into perspective perfectly for all of us who only knew the hockey player, and not the man.

Let’s remember that inside that jersey, inside the world of men, Luc was just a boy. Think of what you were doing at that age (which for me meant College and acting every bit the ass that being young affords you) and remember just how unprepared you were for the world.

I am especially saddened because I have a very personal, very selfish memory that, at the time, would serve as comic relief when recounting my daughter’s precociousness and love of all things Vancouver.

We have lived for some time in Houston, Texas and every year we infest the Toyota Centre to see Houston’s AHL club play the Moose. My daughter, who is now 4 loves to paint her face, wear her Team Canada jersey and sing the national anthem. She has a more than passing knowledge of The Canucks and she had taken quite a shine to both Luc and Mike Keane.

I took her to the glass so that she could see Keane and Luc warm up and she loved to stand on the outside dasher and bang the glass as they would skate by. This time around, she caught Luc’s eye and he came up and banged the glass for her with his stick and they shared a tangible moment. He smiled at her and put his glove on the glass so that she could put her tiny hand out and they could connect between the glass.

Before the game we were able to meet Luc and he gave my daughter a puck and was ever so thoughtful to give her a high five before going (late) to the dressing room. For weeks after she referred to Luc as her best friend and even brought the puck to her Montessori school for show and tell. In Houston, a puck has the same awed reverence that a moon rock or sasquatch would have.

So, that’s it. Just a nice kid who did a nice thing.

I imagine Luc gave many others memories like this.

My original post this morning was to finish with that standby cliché, “it’s just a game, it’s not life and death.” But as Bourdon’s death illustrates so vividly, it’s not a cliché at all… it’s something every one of us should remember.

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