Words cannot express the magnitude of the tragedy that befell the hockey world on Wednesday.
As I sit here trying to come up with a catchy or profound opening sentence, it has dawned on me that I don't need to relay the significance of today's events—anyone reading this understands the deep impact this tragedy has had on the hockey community.
I wrote an article about it here, but I've given myself 48 hours to process what happened before I blogged about it.
Don't get me wrong—I don't expect or pretend to be anywhere near as affected by the tragedy as the player's family members or former teammates.
But this event has really brought out the family aspect of the hockey world. We are all one big family. Hockey players and fans are a special breed. So this hits home for all of us.
When I read the reports that hockey ranks fourth among the four major sports in the US, I can't help but assume hockey counters that by having the most passionate fan base out of the "big four." I do follow other sports, but hockey is the one that I think has the most dedicated fans.
And that's what makes us one big family.
We may be a small group compared to droves of football, baseball and basketball fans, but we care most about our teams, the players and the sport.
So when we lose one of our own, or in this case, an entire team, it really strikes at our core.
If a plane crashed in China carrying an entire Chinese league basketball team, I don't believe that the NBA, its member teams or its players would rally around the victims the way the hockey community has.
I don't mean that as an assault on the character of those people, just as a testament to the nature of our sport.
It speaks volumes to the strength of the hockey community that the KHL is determined to maintain the Lokomotiv team, that players are voluntarily committing themselves to play for the new team and that the league and team has rallied around the families of the victims and pledged to take care of them and see to their well being.
Hopefully a tragedy like this never happens again, and hopefully the memories of those lost in the crash never fade.
They will always be a part of our family.