This isn't about surviving abuse, it's about hurt and finally learning something...
I'm a major hockey fan. The stereotype of being Canadian and loving hockey is me. I ask that if you read this post, you respect me and my feelings. Please don't discount them or leave comments about how it's just a game. It may be a game, but the players, especially this one in particular are very important to me. Thank you!
My team is the Edmonton Oilers. Always has been, and even though it's a love / hate relationship, they always will be. I've been cheering for them before I was ever hurt. I remember the first Stanley Cup they won, it's one of the few memories I have of my childhood - good memories, that is.
I love the Oilers. I love the players. They are my heroes. They bring a smile to my face and this indescribable feeling in the pit of my stomach with each game I watch. It doesn't matter if they win or lose, they are my boys.
I lost interest in hockey after they traded Gretzky and then Messier. I was 11. It broke my heart and I couldn't handle it. I still have the Gretzky trade on tape although I have never watched it since, and probably never will. It crushed me.
I started watching hockey again when I was 15, there was nothing else on TV so I decided to just watch, although I promised myself I wouldn't get involved with the game or the Oilers. Well, the opposite happened. I fell in love with a player. He has heart and soul like no other player. He wore his heart on his sleeve. The passion he put into every game was amazing. He soon became the face of the franchise, every one's favorite player. I couldn't remember another player as awesome as him since the dynasty and The Boys On The Bus. The things he did for the community, the children, the Stollery Children's Hospital and the game of hockey can't be put into words. He was truly a nice guy. I had the incredible opportunity to meet him while standing in line at a Tim Horton's. It's something I'll remember for the rest of my life.
On February 27th the Oilers traded him to the New York Islanders.
When I read that on TSN my heart just broke. I was crushed. It hurt. And I was very angry. At that moment I hated the Oilers, I hated the organization and most of all I hated Kevin Lowe. I couldn't believe they had done it again, they gave up someone awesome and for next to nothing.
That same night, we celebrated Messier - the Moose! - by raising his number to the rafters, retiring number 11 forever. It was a hard night, with many mixed emotions. My respect for the player they just traded grew even more as he graciously stayed away and declined to speak with the media until the next day to avoid any overshadowing of the Moose's big night. Pure class.
The next day he spoke to the media, and as I watched him break down and cry on national television I also broke down and cried. Not just because he was traded, but because it's a major loss for the Edmonton Oilers, the fans, the city and especially his family and friends.
Tonight the Oilers are playing, I'm not watching the game. I have tickets to Saturday's game, but I don't want to go. My heart isn't in it anymore.
It's huge loss.
In a way, I'm thankful. Watching this tough man cry real tears, to show such deep emotion on TV for millions of people to see taught me something that no one has been successful in teaching me.
IT'S OK TO FEEL. IT'S OK TO CRY.
His name is RYAN SMYTH. NUMBER 94. FOREVER AN OILER IN MY HEART.
He is my hero. And it hurts.