Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Why hockey is the classiest sport

Let's say you are an 18 year old defenseman who has been playing hockey your whole life. And your big brother is a Hobey Baker Award winner and has made it to the NHL.

You're headed to a first rate university, one which has won the Frozen Four seven times. And you've been awarded a scholarship to attend college starting this fall.

You've been invited to the NHL Scouting Combine held this year in Toronto. You are ranked 60th overall among North American skaters eligible for the draft, and there were indications he might be drafted as high as the second round.

And then you are diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a thickening of the heart that has been cited in the sudden death of young athletes. This diagnosis is confirmed at the Mayo Clinic.

So instead of hiding the results, you "immediately informed [the hockey team's head coach of your] condition." (link)

And the school, instead of saying "too bad, so sad, you lose, see ya bye." and revoking the hockey scholarship, the head coach "...quickly told the [you] the school would honor [your] scholarship and also make him part of its hockey program." (link)

And you are thinking, "Wow, here I have this devastating news and I will probably never play hockey again, and then someone actually steps up and does the right thing so I have an opportunity to go college and get a degree and still be part of the game I love."

And then comes the day of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, which was going to be one of your greatest days. After the medical news, I certainly wouldn't have blamed you for going on a three day bender. Because you are such a stand up guy you, "informed NHL teams that [you were] removing his name from draft consideration because of his diagnosis."

Instead, the owner-to-be of an NHL franchise, says to himself "The kid worked his whole life to be drafted in the NHL. I didn't see a reason why he shouldn't be." And so, with the last of the team's eight picks, in the seventh round of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, you become the 203rd overall pick. (link)

"[You] will always know [you] got drafted in the National Hockey League," [the owner] said. "I almost get choked up. He worked too hard not to be drafted." (link)

There is a chance that more tests will show a less-dangerous condition he called "athlete's heart," in which the heart's lining thickens and grows because of exercise. But it will be six to eight weeks results are known, and another three months, if the results are good, to see if the heart reduces. If it does, it could mean a renewed athletic career.

"But it's almost a false hope," [you] said. "It's less than a 1 percent chance, so unless there's a miracle, I don't see it changing."

And so, it's a hat trick of class actions brought to you by the following cast of characters:

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