Condolences from a heavy-hearted blogger must go to Jordan Staal and his family. Staal's grandfather passed away on Sunday, and Jordan's immediate schedule after getting the news included playing Game 2, attending a funeral in Canada, then playing in Game 3.
That ENer at the end of Game 2 must've been emotional.
Death is a hard thing to deal with. When we see athletes take the field/ice/court/etc., we assume that they're focused on one thing, executing to the highest level their skill allows so that the fans can enjoy a win. Knowing the darkness that must have clouded Jordan's thoughts before playoff hockey games during this difficult time is unbelievable.
I don't mean to liken Staal's ENer or his play in Game 3 to, say, Brett Favre playing well after his father's passing, but the strength and mental toughness needed to contribute to a playoff hockey game is something that you and I cannot fully understand. I know how your energy is sapped away when you are given fatal news, and being able to compartmentalize that pain enough to produce on the ice is a feat worth applauding.
Staal had a free pass to miss some games, or even had a legitimate excuse for poor play.
He didn't need any of that. Hockey might have been the help he needed.
As I pass along my condolences, I also give Jordan Staal a higher level of respect than the level at which he's already earned through his accomplishments in his first two years in the NHL.
Your youth is offset by your strength. As a Penguins fan, I am truly appreciative.
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
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