The 2011 NHL Offseason Was Tragic

Ryan Shaffer, Opinions Editor

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The past few months have been
devastating for the hockey world.
Normally, the offseason is a time for rest and family, but 2011 had
different plans.  Many players did not
make it to see the start of a new hockey season.  With the string of recent player deaths, fans
lost heroes, and families lost sons, husbands and fathers.  The 2011 offseason was the most tragic to
date.

The
2011 NHL offseason started with the decision to move the Atlanta Thrashers
franchise to Winnipeg to reinstate hockey in the Canadian city. For the first
time in over 15 years, the Jets were back, but in Atlanta, fans lost their team
that they cheered on for 12 years.  As a
Pittsburgh Penguins’ fan, I know that the thought of my team relocating to
Kansas City a few years back was terrifying.
It was great to put a team back in Winnipeg for Jets’ fans, but Atlanta
fans are surely devastated.

In
May, enforcer Derek Boogaard lost his life.
The well-liked “Boogeyman” was just the first in a string of unforeseen
deaths.  In August, newly acquired
Winnipeg Jets forward Rick Rypien, and former NHL tough guy Wade Belak were
found dead within three weeks of one another.
Both deaths were confirmed suicides.
NHL fans continue to grieve over their passing.

On
September 7, a jet carrying players and staff of the Russian team Yaroslavl
Lokomotiv, crashed shortly after takeoff.
The tragic event took the lives of 43 people, including former NHL
players Ruslan Salei, Pavol Demitra, and Josef Vasicek. The team was on its way
to play the first game of the season.
Players from ten different nations lost their lives, which caused
worldwide sadness in the hockey world.
These players were not only heroes to their surrounding community, but
role models to fans across the globe, especially in the city of Yaroslavl.

This
was the most devastating summer hockey has ever seen.  As a Penguins’ fan I cannot imagine losing
any players, let alone the entire team.
In Pittsburgh, our biggest worry was whether or not Captain Sidney
Crosby would return.  Now, we mourn with
the rest of the hockey community, and hope that these horrible tragedies will
cease to continue.  Even if you are not a
fan of the sport, I encourage you to take a moment and remember those who lose
their lives over the past five months.
We saw these players as great talents on the ice, but we will remember
them most for what they’ve done for the game, their fans, and their
teammates.  Rest in peace: Derek
Boogaard, Rick Rypien, Wade Belak, and Yaroslavl Locomotiv.

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