The Takeaway: Closing thoughts

Hockey is canceled and everything is stressful and bad

Item no. 1: I don’t have a ton to say today. I don’t have the effort to name these subheads for the 5 things you should know, for starters. I don’t even know if I have 5 things for you to know since zero hockey games have happened since the last time I penned this column!

I’m just going to start this off with some of the things that warmed my cold, dead heart over the course of the last week or so, in hopes they will do the same for you:

Ashlyn Harris. Just Ashlyn Harris.

A brief yet lasting glimpse of joy as nearly the entire sports world came to rest.

Simone Biles ruthlessly dragging USA Gymnastics.

Cornell gathering for one last skate after they found out their season was over. I can’t stress how meaningful it is, in these situations when everything goes to hell, to get together one last time and just be a team. I’m happy the Big Red got that. I hope every other team did as well.

Michelle Karvinen showing us there will never be enough Michelle Karvinens in the world.

BC reliving arguably the team’s biggest win in program history, an OT thriller over Clarkson that got them into the 2016 national title game:

The Oshies naming their kid after the only goaltender to shut out the entirety of the NCAA Tournament.

BU winning the latest and most nail-biting version of the Battle of Comm Ave we’ve ever witnessed.

Item no. 2: There is at least one hockey thing to talk about this week. It’s not really new, but it’s one of very few remaining undecided things that will actually be decided: the 2020 Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award winner.

Our three finalists this year are Clarkson’s Élizabeth Giguère, Northeastern’s Alina Müller, and Wisconsin’s Abby Roque. Roque has had a great season. Müller is going to be the best player in the world very shortly. But Giguère has been the best player in the nation going on two years. She lost a 40-goal scorer on the wing opposite her and still she’s been the best player. I’d like to submit, in my opinion, that this should be her year. We’ll see what the committee decided themselves whenever the award is finally announced.

Item no. 3: Everything is so fragile, isn’t it? It’s the best of the world we live in, and the worst of it. I think that’s been magnified times a hundred thousand over the last couple of weeks.

In hockey, we’ve always known this. It’s actually, as crazy as it sounds, what draws me into this sport and holds me here so tightly. I’ve written about this before, so I won’t prattle on here. But we all know it to be true. You can play the best game of your life and lose it in the dumbest way possible. Even when you do win, it’s fleeting. Because we are not suspended in singular moments of time. Players leave. Coaches leave. The puck drops again.

But I think it’s exactly that fragility, that fluidity, that gives these things so much meaning. As a team, you set out to do the simple, everyday work of striving to be better. You wholeheartedly place your trust in the person next to you to do the same. You don’t get to do it forever, though. Eventually you come to the end, or the end is taken away. No matter. There is a strength to that bond that outlasts any finite measure of a game, or a season, or a career, specifically because it was forged in uncertainty, in toil.

I’m hardly qualified to speak about sports, at a maximum, so I should probably just quit here instead of talking about the world at large. I’ll just say this, though. We’ve expected our systems and constructs and general way of life to continue as normal in the face of practically everything. We’re learning that they can’t. We can so clearly see, now, how much we rely on each other to make all of it work on a daily basis—and who carries the brunt of that burden. It isn’t, if you were curious, the most privileged among us.

We are tethered together by the most delicate threads. I’m not going to give some spiel here about how if we all just come together and hold hands around the campfire, those threads will never break. Of course they might break. The entire point is this: in the face of that, will we still make the choice to pick each other up, and care for each other, and do the work to be better together?

Item no. 4: Yesterday was supposed to be the national championship game. While I’m personally devastated that we won’t get to crown a winner for the season, and tell their story, I’m also finding it hard to worry so much about hockey right now.

I’m thinking of the doctors and nurses and other healthcare workers on the front lines, walking into an unfair fight with little or no protection for themselves. I’m thinking of the people around the globe who are already making impossible decisions about who gets treatment and who doesn’t. I’m thinking of the people who have lost their jobs and any semblance of security.

I’m thinking of the people who are sick. I’m thinking of the people who lost their lives.

I’m thinking of the parents who are trying to homeschool their kids, or just keep them entertained hour after hour. I’m thinking of the 5-year-olds, the 15-year-olds, who are watching scary things on the news, can’t see their friends, and don’t have any sense of normalcy. I’m thinking of the parents who can’t hug their kids and the grandparents who can’t hug their grandkids, and vice versa.

I’m thinking of the people volunteering to go shopping for the most at-risk members of our communities. I’m thinking of the people working tirelessly to keep food banks stocked. I’m thinking of the people donating supplies of personal protective equipment to hospitals and those most in need of them. I’m thinking of the people at shelters and rescue groups who continue to care for homeless pets in the midst of this.

You are the absolute best of us. You always have been.

Item no. 5: A very good friend of mine, Peter Elander, has taught me a lot about hockey. I think he’s taught me way more about life, though. If you know Peter, you know that one of his favorite quips is this: “It’s nice to be important, but more important to be nice.”

I’m hopeful that, even in these uncertain, chaotic times, we’ll find it within us to lean in towards the latter. Stay home. Be kind. Be well.