Hockey Fights Cancer has Special Meaning in Dallas

The next time to you feel like whining about the weather, traffic or other trivial every day life inconveniences consider how Bekki Nill might respond. Bekki Nill, wife of Stars’ General Manager Jim Nill, has been battling cancer for 15 years.

Last night Bekki Nill dropped the puck to kickoff the Stars annual Hockey Fights Cancer night. For the third season in a row, she also hosted a suite for breast cancer fighters and survivors. Prior to moving Dallas, Bekki was also at the forefront of the  Detroit Red Wing’s Hockey Fights Cancer initiatives.

Unfortunately the Stars lost the game 6-2 to Jaromir Jagr and the Florida Panthers.

The Stars wore special lavender colored jerseys during warmups. Perhaps they should have worn the jerseys for the actual game as well to remind them to focus on the details (the jerseys will be available for bidding online by visiting the Dallas Stars Foundation website). Or maybe all the Stars players should have shaken Bekki’s hand as captain Jamie Benn scored both Stars goals after shaking Bekki’s hand during the puck-dropping ceremony.

Bekki Nill

Bekki first met her future husband in St. Louis where she was a collegiate student athlete and Jim was an NHL rookie with the St. Louis Blues. They would marry in 1984 and the Nill family would go on to call many NHL cities home during Nill’s 34 year NHL career as a player and in management.

Bekki was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1999. After chemotherapy treatments and radical surgeries, Bekki was cancer-free for 10+ years. In 2011 she felt one of her shoulders lock up and knew something was wrong. The cancer was back. This time the cancer was in her liver. It is not considered a curable cancer, but Bekki continues to fight.

During the 2nd intermission last night, the Stars’ Fox Sports Southwest telecast showed a touching video of Bekki Nill being interviewed by Stars reporter Julie Dobbs. As many Stars’ fans know Dobbs had her own battle with breast cancer in 2013. Dobbs was diagnosed in September 2013 and was declared cancer-free six months later.  See the touching video below.

While it wasn’t a great night for the Stars from a wins/losses perspective, it was another successful step in a joint effort between the NHL and the NHLPA. The Hockey Fights Cancer program has raised over $15M since 1998.

For more information on this initiative see Hockey’s Most Important Fight by my THW colleague Rick Rischall.

Lastly as a reminder to us all, the next time you feel beaten down by life’s trivial inconveniences count your blessings and be thankful for the day. For every day.