While most sports fans tend to ride the emotional rollercoaster that comes with cheering on their favourite team, at the end of the day, sports are nothing more than an enjoyable distraction from our day-to-day existence. As much as we may want our team or teams to be successful, in the grand scheme of things, we are still talking about a form of entertainment and not real life situations. That wasn’t necessarily the case on Sunday night in Edmonton, as the Oilers took on Craig Anderson and the Ottawa Senators over at Rogers Place.
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) October 29, 2016
For those of you who were unaware, Anderson had been granted a leave of absence in order to deal with a personal matter early last week. It was revealed late Saturday afternoon that the 35-year old was on leave due to the fact his wife Nicholle had been diagnosed with cancer. Unfortunately, an injury to Senators backup goalie Andrew Hammond put the club in a bit of a pickle and the need for Anderson’s return was suddenly much more of a priority.
Winning One For Craig
With that being said, it was by no means a necessity and yet it was at his wife’s insistence that Anderson rejoined the club to help out in whatever way possible. Hard to imagine and yet that is how this played out. While none of us are inside that dressing room, my guess is it is safe to assume Sens players were absolutely floored at the gesture and wanted nothing more than to see their teammate rewarded with something special in what had to have been an unimaginable situation.
"They're proud players & they're going to play that way for a teammate." Coach McLellan on @Senators rallying around Craig Anderson
— Edmonton Oilers (@EdmontonOilers) October 31, 2016
Thanks to a 37-save performance from Anderson and the first goal of the season for Mike Hoffman, Ottawa was able to do exactly that in shutting out Connor McDavid and Co. by a score of 2-0. While it may not have been the outcome Oilers’ fans were hoping for, it was one everybody seemed completely fine with and who could blame them. In fact, it was the reaction of the crowd inside Rogers Place and that of Cam Talbot which likely made the moment all the more special for the guy standing in the opposing team’s net.
thank you – so classy. Our hockey family is so incredible. #hockeyfightscancer
— Ottawa Senators (@Senators) October 31, 2016
Take a Bow Edmonton
After embracing teammates following the final buzzer, the ovation which Anderson received after being named the game’s first-star was both heart-warming and gut-wrenching to watch. For the fans inside that building to recognize the situation for what it was and cheer in the manner they did says a lot about the people of Edmonton. In my mind, that doesn’t happen in every NHL city but it did happen here and it clearly struck a chord with the 13-year vet, who went out of his way to applauded the crowd for their generosity and do so with tears streaming down his face.
And as if the moment wasn’t already special enough, the fact Talbot took the time to wait around on the Oilers bench to applaud his opposite number’s efforts as he took his first-star twirl on the ice, was the added cherry on top. A classy move indeed and one the American netminder likely won’t soon forget. While none of us can imagine what was going through his head at that moment or for that matter, throughout the entire 60 minutes of play, there is no question it was an evening like no other for Craig Anderson and god knows it was well deserved.
Rob Soria is the Author of Connor McDavid: Hockey’s Next Great One. He has chronicled the Orange and Blue since creating his Oil Drop blog in 2011 and has also had his writings featured over at HometownHockey.ca and Vavel USA, where he has covered the NHL, MLB and ATP Tour. Rob was born, raised and still resides in Edmonton, Alberta and can be reached via twitter @Oil_Drop.