Anderson Does What He Loves for Who He Loves

Sunday night was a perfect example of why sports mean so much to so many people. As many hockey fans know by now, Ottawa Senators goaltender Craig Anderson is currently going through a challenging time in his life right now as he discovered that his wife Nicholle has cancer. People became curious when he left the team in the midst of the Western Canadian road trip, for what the team announced as a personal matter at home.

After a few days, the difficult news came out and suddenly the game meant nothing to Anderson. The only thing on his mind was the well-being of the love of his life. How could anything ever be the same again? How could someone ever focus on hockey after realizing how much more difficult life will be?

Anderson, Heart of the Team

The Ottawa Senators decided to dress Andrew Hammond and Chris Driedger against the Calgary Flames on Friday. But with Hammond going down with an injury, the Senators needed some help. Nicholle Anderson, who knows the Ottawa goaltender better than most, knows how important the game is and knows how important the starting goaltender is to the team. She urged her husband to rejoin the team in Edmonton and to continue his life passion. With her utmost support, Anderson returned to the Senators and delivered one of the greatest performances of his career.

He also delivered a shutout against the Vancouver Canucks before he returned to his wife, although that performance did not have the same sort of emotion that this one had, given the news he received.

Anderson’s teammates played for him, while he played for her — as if everything depended upon it. His performance that night showed us why we love hockey and how it is much more than just a game.

As role models to many people, we often forget that hockey players are just like one of us. We cheer for them when they are seeing success, and boo them when they disappoint us. Sometimes it gets so bad that we drive them out of town. But when something so personal hits so close to home for a player, we can’t help but feel for and relate to him.

Making It Real and Personal

We may think about what’s going on in his mind, or about our own loved ones and if something like that happened to one of them. For many of us, we can think back to going through something similar in the past. It is in these moments, where we identify not as simply hockey fans, but as humans that connect with one another through those feelings.

Sports help us bridge the gap between athletes and fans while connecting the community in the process. Had Anderson declined his wife’s suggestion to return to the Senators, fans may not have had as much of an opportunity to connect to his situation off of the ice. His return, however, brought fans together and made them proud to be a part of this community.

You don’t have to be a Senators fan to be cheering for this team, at least for a little while, given the circumstances.

Right now, we are all cheering — for him and for her.