Hurricanes, Wings, a Scare and a Prayer

One of the most satisfying parts of being a sports journalist is the interaction with the players and coaches. Last night, towards the end of the game between the Carolina Hurricanes and the Detroit Red Wings, I was walking down the hallway on the fifth floor of Raleigh’s PNC Arena, and I saw this tall, skinny guy in a suit getting some water. I thought to myself, “Who is that?” Then, when he stood up completely I immediately thought, “Oh, that’s Eddie.” (I’d not seen him in anything other than hockey gear before).

The Prayer and the Scare

Eddie Lack, backup goalie for the Hurricanes was fine, which I knew from previous reports. But, it was so good to see him walking around like he was a season-ticket holder just hanging at the game. As we approached one another I said, “Hey Eddie, I said a prayer for you last night.” He said, “Thank you, I appreciate that.”

“Last night” refers to Monday night, March 27, and the very last play of the game between the Hurricanes and the Red Wings. In overtime, Andreas Athanasiou of the Red Wings crashed into Lack as he shot what was to be the game-winning goal. All the excitement from the game evaporated in an instant when Lack did not get up off the ice.

The moments that followed were surreal. The ultimate class of hockey was on full display as the Red Wings stayed on the ice while Lack was attended to by team trainers. Hockey is truly more than a fraternity; it is a family. The family stood by as one of their own was strapped to a backboard and then wheeled off the ice on a stretcher.

As Lack was exiting the PNC Arena, headed to an awaiting ambulance, he gave a “thumbs up” that was truly inspiring.

But, the extent of his injuries was not known at that point. Were the trainers being extra cautious? Was he seriously hurt? All we could do was wait and pray.

When I got home I told my wife about Lack and we said a prayer for him. No matter how critical I’ve been of his play in the past, he is a person first, and a member of the team I cover. I sincerely wanted the best for Lack. Thankfully, good news was soon to come.

Lack posted on social media that he was fine and heading home. Apparently, the crash with Athanasiou gave him a bad neck strain, but nothing serious or debilitating long-term. Athanasiou was out for Tuesday night’s game, saying he was sore from being cross-checked in the back by Hurricanes’ Victor Rask on the play that led to the collision with Lack.

Before we went different ways down the hall, I asked Lack what he was thinking as he laid on the ice Monday night. Lack said, “You know I could move my arms and legs, but you always worry with the concussions. I’m just happy I’m okay.” I told him I am happy too and that was it.

In the span of 24 hours, emotions had run from deep concern to being very happy that Lack is ok and very happy that I got to tell him privately that I had said a prayer for him. I left Lack, wondering to myself, where in the world he got the suit he was wearing, but that’s a topic for the future.

To top off the night, the Hurricanes won, getting a much-needed two points and extending their current point streak to 12 games. Afterwards, head coach Bill Peters said Lack is a tough guy and everyone was in great spirits. Not a bad night in Raleigh at all.