This isn't exactly a hockey blog directly but I felt strongly enough about the subject matter that I would write it anyways and I hope everyone takes something away from this piece.
Some of you may have heard the story of a young 8-year-old boy named Connor Michalek who recently lost a battle to pediatric brain cancer.
Connor wasn't a hockey fan, Connor's passion in life was wrestling. His favorite wrestler? Daniel Bryan (Bryan Danielson). Just like many other children who are unfortunately struck with life-threatening illnesses at a young age, Connor found something to escape his daily battle just as many of us find our escape in hockey.
Two years ago Connor met his idol in Danielson, a well-traveled professional wrestler known as many fans and industry insiders as the best ring technician of his generation. For those of you again that don't follow the wacky world of wrestling, Daniel Bryan, as he's known, is a symbol of a blue-collar work ethic and dreams coming true. He grew up in Aberdeen, Washington forever dreaming of becoming a professional wrestler. Earlier this year he helped Connor's dream come true as well when Connor walked down the ramp and into the ring to have a match of his own with all the WWE wrestlers watching.
The perfect escape.
Earlier this year Connor's family was unfortunately informed the cancer had progressed and that he didn't have much time remaining. Having met Danielson two years prior and having a close relationship with him, the WWE helped orchestrate an emotional week for the family. Connor got to spend most of the week with the WWE team during their busiest time of the year, Wrestlemania season.
Wrestlemania is the wrestling world's version of the SuperBowl, World Series, NBA Finals, World Cup and Stanley Cup Finals.
Connor got to walk the aisle with all the wrestlers watching and have his dream come true with a match. He also got to meet each superstar and spend countless hours cracking his quick whit with some of the industries big names. The weekend culminated when he got to watch his hero in Bryan capture the World Heavyweight Championship, the biggest title in the sport of professional wrestling.
A few weeks ago Connor passed away.
Connor and his family have been battling his cancer diagnosis for years with numerous operations and treatments that put stresses on the young child's body. But when wrestling was on, Connor found a way to smile and be himself.
He forgot about the everyday struggle he faced.
All of us are finding an escape into the Stanley Cup playoffs and forget about the struggles we face in our lives. Sports have become such a great escapism dating back to the days of the old Roman Colosseum when poverty struck the great empire of Greece. It was there for many that endured the great depression when Howie Morenz got most to forget about the economical meltdown that was occuring outside the arena walls. Throughout every World War sports has provided us with something to gravitate to that unite and inspires us all.
Whether it's carrying forward through a divorce, the loss of a loved one, moving in a new direction in our lives, having a bad day or even taking a break from the stresses of where this month's rent is going to come from, remember what this game of hockey gives you.
In the grand scheme of things we forget that sports is more than just wins and losses, whether your team or my team won a trade and what free agent is going to sign where this summer. Sometimes we forget to just enjoy the moment and be captivated by the spectacle and pageantry of the arena or what's displayed on our television.
The next playoff game you get a chance to sit down and watch, take a second to stop and take it in and remember what hockey means to you and your life.
Sports have such a great impact in our lives and for some sports is a reason to fight for another day.
In loving memory of Connor Michalek 2005-2014.
Shane Sander is a regular featured contributor for The Hockey Writers and PuckRant. Follow Shane and all of his work and upcoming appearances on Twitter @SanderTHW or on Facebook via the PuckRant and The Hockey Writers fan pages.