The Biggest Post Season Battle
While the Blue Jackets regroup for next year, and sixteen other NHL franchises battle for the cup, long-time CBJ broadcaster and former Miami University Redhawks coach Bill Davidge is fighting an even bigger battle.
To be honest, I struggled with this piece -- a lot. I tried tying the topic into a broader hockey context, but it came out somewhat banal and contrived. I took a stab at an elaborate piece, but it too fell short in terms of both tone and substance. So, after more trials and errors than I care to admit to, I surrendered to one of the oldest adages of them all -- Keep It Simple. And short. Let's try that.
It is widely known that Blue Jackets' broadcaster Bill Davidge was diagnosed with multiple myeloma last September. Despite that diagnosis, Bill was in front of the camera and behind the microphone all season long, while undergoing treatment. The smile, the firm handshake and the insatiable willingness to talk about hockey -- anytime, anywere -- have never wavered or faltered. With the season now over, Bill has moved on to the next phase of his treatment protocol. Bill went into The James Cancer Hospital yesterday to undergo a bone marrow transplant -- a key step in the treatment of this form of cancer.
Part of my difficulty in writing this piece is that it hits close to home. Eight years ago, I was in the James with a diagnosis of Stage IV cancer. Although of a different type than Bill's, the treatment was long and challenging and I too continued to work throughout the process. So, I understand a bit what Bill has been facing and thinking over the past 7 months. However, that understanding makes what Bill has done all the more remarkable, in my book. While I went to work, it was in the relative anonymity of the private workplace. I could engage or disengage with the broader world as my health and attitude permitted. Bill has not had that luxury. He has kept himself front and center throughout the whole process, undoubtedly including many times when the last place on Earth he wanted to be was in front of the camera. Trust me, folks. That takes guts -- lots of them.
To say I know Bill Davidge well would be a gross overstatement. I have had the privilege to deal with him in the course of my covering the Blue Jackets over the years, and we'll chat briefly whenever we run into each other. But that's part of Bill's charm --- you don't need to spend much time with him to understand what a fine gentleman he is. Unfailingly polite, tough as nails, and always, always ready to talk hockey. Bill graduated from Ohio State the same year I graduated from Stanford -- back when it was the Big Ten and the Pac-8. He did his graduate work at Miami University (and put its hockey program on the map), which is where my son received both his undergraduate and graduate degrees. So, perhaps all of those parallels have lined up to make this a necessary endeavor on my part. Who knows?
There are a few things I do know. Hearing that diagnosis and going through the ensuing treatment are transformative experiences. You come out the other side a different person. Perhaps not externally, but inside you view life and the world just a bit differently than you did before. If you're lucky, that change is a positive one, enabling you to cherish life just a little bit more than you did before. I like to think I've done that, and watching Bill Davidge, I can guarantee you he has.
The whole point is that Bill Davidge is going to be in a battle this off-season. He has the best team in the world at The James helping him fight it, and he has the toughness and the terrific attitude required to beat this thing. The support of those around me was a huge part of my recovery, so please consider taking a moment out of your days to send positive thoughts and wishes to Bill and his family in the days and weeks to come. I think I speak for all of us at The Cannon -- and in Blue Jackets Nation -- in wishing Bill a successful treatment. We need him to call then next "goal scorer's goal" at Nationwide.
Thanks for bearing with me on this one. Stay tuned.