By Ellen Chlumecky
October 22nd, 2014 is a date that will now live in infamy in the hearts of all Canadians. At 9:52 a.m. when Michael Zehaf-Bibeau entered the Canadian National War Memorial, everything changed. Zehaf-Bibeau fatally shot Corporal Nathan Cirillo and then attacked the members of the Canadian Parliament. Two days before, a terrorist attack occurred in Quebec which resulted in the killing of another Canadian soldier. This tragic week has hit Canada like a wrecking ball. Citizens of Canada’s lives were put on hold while they tried to absorb what happened. During this time, everyone tried to put activities on hold until people could grasp what had happened, notably they cancelled the Ottawa Senators and Toronto Maple Leafs game.
This Saturday, October 25th the same week of the tragic shootings, Canada held a commemorative night honoring the fallen soldiers at the Ottawa Senators and New Jersey Devils game. In combined efforts with the Montreal Canadiens and the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Ottawa Senators and the New Jersey Devils organized the game at Canadian Tire Centre to be a night dedicated to the two Canadian soldiers who had fallen in order to protect others and their country. The ceremony honored not only them, but the Canadian soldiers who were first respondents to both of the shootings.
The Ottawa Senators and the New Jersey Devils stood shoulder to shoulder on the center ice circle for the ceremony. In the middle of center ice were representatives of the Canadian military. The anthem singer sang “O Canada,” which the crowd joined in singing loudly with him. The Senators also showed on the video board the Montreal and Toronto arenas pregame where the crowd sang the Canadian anthem as well.
While the shoulder to shoulder is not something you usually see in these types of ceremonies, it was conveyed a powerful message. That message was the unity of these players symbolized the unity of the players and the unity of America and Canada. This message of the ceremony was to honor the fallen soldiers who gave their lives to protect the lives of other citizens. However, the NHL was also trying to make the statement of unity through hockey. Hockey holds great importance in Ottawa and Canada as a whole, and for the NHL to come together to show support towards Ottawa says a lot about the power of sports and the compassion that the NHL organization holds for these fallen soldiers, their families, and all that were affected.