Hockey Nerd

A Different Perspective on the Numbers

February 28, 2017

MYHockey essentially converts hockey game to numbers and applies those numbers to teams.  One could argue something as beautiful as a hockey game should never be reduced to numbers.  And the same can be said about life itself.  But sometimes it is hard not to.

 Ten years ago this week my name was on the front page of a small northern Indiana newspaper.  I didn't find out about it for weeks.  To this day, there is no pride in making the front page.  I'm sure no one really remembers seeing my name anyway.  The article, thankfully, wasn't about me or my family.

 The article was titled, "One dead in DeKalb wreck on I-69".  A southbound semi tractor-trailer lost control, crossed the median, straddled the entire northbound lane and continue to move southbound into oncoming traffic.  The small truck traveling just in front of me had no time to react, they made impact at something close to full speed.  I was one to two seconds behind that vehicle.  Call it what you like (luck, amazing reflexes, a superior built vehicle, or divine intervention), my vehicle was collected in the wreck at an estimated speed of 35 mph.

 My son played two hockey games that afternoon and evening in Detroit.  The newspaper article stated that neither I "nor any of his passengers were injured."  A physically true statement.  Something I've been grateful for ever since.

 MYHockey is an information website with much to offer, but you, the viewer, gravitate towards the math.  We use hundredths of a point (goal) to differentiate teams.  That February day on I-69, math was on my side.  One second ahead and our fate would have been totally different.  A few seconds either way and it would have only been a "close call".

 My family was on the right side of the math.  Other hockey families have been less lucky.  Whether it's very public tragedies like the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl plane crash or less public tragedies like a one car accident or a skater catching a blade and hitting the boards wrong, every once in a while members of the hockey family are on the wrong side of math.  The what-ifs can nearly kill those who survive, both victim and family.  I am sure the drugs and alcohol used to deaden the memories of survivors have ended more than a couple lives before their time.  "I shoulda..." scenarios play over and over in your mind.  It can be debilitating.

 I honestly can't say why my family got to walk away on that day while others did not.  I have my own personal theories, but they are just that, personal theories.

 I do know that children who don't play hockey have very similar rates of death and paralysis as non-hockey players.  I'm also reasonably sure that staying home and forcing your child to play a "safer" sport doesn't actually lead to a lower death rate.  It may lead to a slightly different list of causes for death and injury, but not the numbers.  This is where my unwavering belief in numbers and facts serves me well.

 It took me a few months, but I ultimately realized we will never know when it is our time.  But it shouldn't matter.  I might become a centenarian or I might unknowingly be living my last day.  Either way, take the advice of theologian Tim McGraw and "Live Like You Were Dying".  That might have a different meaning to each of us.  In some ways I could argue every hockey family is doing just that.  And while we all fail from time to time to live up to that motto, I am challenging you (and more importantly, myself) to live it every single day.  Yes, you still need to go to work and you still need to pay your bills.  It's not necessarily what you do, although that can be part of it, but it's how you live your life, how you interact with the people you surround yourself with.  It's not about the numbers and shouldn't be about the numbers, until, unexpectedly, it is about the numbers.


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