This noontime I went to the RBC thinking that I might get a couple of interviews before the Carolina Hurricanes left for Pittsburgh tomorrow. Perhaps I could have found out how Eric Staal felt about playing against his brother, or asked Sergei Samsonov if he was happy about beating the team that drafted him. But instead of the typical interview process, I was quite surprised to find out that Scott Walker was addressing the media in a special press conference and was as shocked as anyone when I heard his news.
Walker's wife, Julie, has recently been diagnosed with cervical cancer. While she is expected to make a full, complete recovery, one can only imagine what was on the hockey player's mind during the past couple of weeks as he was competing at the highest level for the toughest trophy to obtain in all of sports.
The Hurricanes winger made the headlines a couple of times during the recent series against Boston, first when he punched Aaron Ward at the end of game 5, and then as a hero when he scored the game winner near the end of overtime in game 7. An emotional Walker choked up and fought back tears during his postgame interview, but very few knew the true reason why. Now the world knows.
Today, Walker stated that he was lucky to be a part of a hockey team at a time like this. The team is like a family, they take care of their own and he and his wife are receiving all the support needed from his teammates and their wives. When he was on the road away from his wife, he tried his best to focus on the task at hand, which was to do whatever he could to help his team win.
Paul Maurice spoke to the press after Walker and stated that he found out about the situation a week ago. When the coaching staff decided to move "Scottie" to the first line with Staal and Whitney before game 7, they were thinking, "who else is more focused at this time?" Obviously, they made the right decision.
It's amazing how some people can compartmentalize things enough to put personal tragedy aside and focus on the task at hand. Of course, the world's best athletes are trained to concentrate in this manner even under normal circumstances. The ability must really come in handy under adverse conditions.
Remarkably, two Hurricanes have been battling extreme personal issues during these playoffs, and both of them have had tremendous success. Jussi Jokinen lost his father unexpectedly in March and has two game winning postseason goals as well as a game tying goal in game 7 against New Jersey. Now Scott Walker has the game winning goal in game 7 against Boston. Remarkable indeed.
On this blog we try to touch a on bit of everything. We don't take ourselves too seriously here, but we do attempt to inform more so than entertain our readers. I'll stand by my previous article when I said with tongue in cheek that it's okay for fans to boo and dislike players, if they want to do that. But wow, Cory's recent article about taking a player's feelings into consideration certainly hit home today.
We will move on and start to analyze the upcoming series very soon.
Finally, Cory and I wish the very best for the Walker family at this time.