Hockey is known for its ability to bring people together, and this was never more evident this week following the tragedy in Canada’s capital. It started Wednesday night as the Pittsburgh Penguins faced state rivals the Philadelphia Flyers.
In respect to the shooting in Ottawa on Wednesday – where a gunman shot and killed Canadian soldier Nathan Cirillo standing guard at the War Memorial in Ottawa, before House of Commons Sergeant-at-Arms Kevin Vickers stopped the gunman as he entered Parliament – the Penguins bucked with tradition with a moving rendition of ‘O Canada.’
Fans were asked by the announcer at Consol Energy Centre, “Please rise and remove your hats. Ladies and gentleman, tonight our thoughts and prayers are with our friends in Ottawa and across Canada. Please join us in singing O Canada.”
For me personally, this was especially moving. After attending a Penguins home game in December 2013, I have seen Pittsburgh hospitality first-hand. But to see American hockey fans paying tribute to a tragedy in Canada so respectfully and wholeheartedly, I can honestly say it moved me to tears.
By Thursday night, several teams around the league had paid tribute to the Ottawa tragedy. The Detroit Red Wings, Boston Bruins and Minnesota Wild all played ‘O Canada’ in respect of their friends in the north. Additionally, Canadian team the Edmonton Oilers held a moment of silence before their anthems. (Videos for the Red Wings, Bruins, Wild and Oilers can be viewed in full here)
With this show of solidarity, teams throughout the league have clearly demonstrated how the hockey family comes together in the face of adversity, and I would like to express a heartfelt thank you as a hockey fan from the true north, strong and free.