With over three months to go until the calendar turns over to 2012, you can already put a black mark beside 2011. From a hockey perspective, this year has been marred by tragic incidents, and senseless losses of life.
I think back to January, when former San Jose Shark and Springfield Falcon Tom Cavanagh took his own life in Providence, Rhode Island. After a short time, it was revealed that Cavanagh was tormented by schizophrenia. He couldn't bear the torment any further.
In May, Derek Boogaard took a lethal mix of alcohol and oxycodone. The autopsy showed that his death was accidental, but one must take into account Boogaard's previous treatment for painkiller addiction.
The month of August saw two more players lose their life. Rick Rypien took his own life after battling depression for over ten years. Wade Belak, also suffering from depression, was found dead on August 31st. Belak's cause of death has yet to be revealed, and I am not going to speculate. Here's what we know however- four players lost their lives senselessly. I'm not going to critique the NHLPA or the NHL for the systems and protocol they have in place for helping players (or former players) who are battling mental illness. I am simply not in a position to do so. I do want something to be done to avoid future tragedies, and I trust in the NHL and NHLPA to put measures into play to reduce or eliminate incidents such as these.
Today, the tragic news of the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl plane crash added to the horrors that 2011 has brought to the hockey community.
I'm not going to rehash the incident, TSN offers a recap HERE.
I'll say this much- it makes me sick to my stomach. I feel overwhelmed by the situation, and along with Cavanagh, Boogaard, Rypien and Belak losing their lives, one can only hope that the horrors of 2011 aren't repeated. The hockey community is close-knit. Every player, coach, front office executive, and fan is impacted by these events.
On behalf of The Cannon, I offer the families and friends of Tom Cavanagh, Derek Boogaard, Rick Rypien, Wade Belak, and the members of Lokomotiv Yaroslavl our sincere condolences.