Monday, February 18, 2008

Trying to Make Some Sense

Every day we take the time to tell you about the happenings of the Ranger prospects. To us it is the best job to have in the hockey world as we get to see the future of the Rangers today.

We get to see wide eyed teenagers who are chasing the dream of playing hockey in the NHL when we first meet several of these young men it is almost comical.

For them we are their first experience with those who cover the Rangers and for us it is fun because we are watching those who want to become Rangers. We get to know these young men, sometimes their families as well during the time when they are Ranger prospects.

We tend to get closer to these prospects then those beat writers who cover the Rangers because they are not in New York. We watch as they learn how to improve their games, how they grow their bodies and grow as people.

For every question we have for them it seems they have one for us. They remind us that despite living an adult lifestyle they are just teenagers and teenagers ask a ton of questions. Maybe it is because they are looking to learn from us that makes this job so much fun.

It is a learning experience for us as well because we see close up what these prospects go though to chase that dream of hopefully one day becoming New York Rangers. We see how the scouts work with them to help them improve, we see their sweat, their pain and sometimes their heartbreak too when they deal with some of the adult emotions for the first time.

There is also those times when you know some of these prospects are not going to get that Ranger contract they have worked so hard for. Some move on to other pro teams in the lower leagues trying to make a living playing hockey. Some go to school or discover new lives after hockey.

Then there are the kinds of stories you pray that you never will have to write and today is one of those days. Today instead of projecting which Ranger prospect we think is heading to Hartford on a ATO (Amateur Tryout contract) we are talking about a young man who passed away and nobody knows why.

We did not know Mickey Renaud ourselves since he was a draft pick of the Calgary Flames but we know his kind of story. If anything we would have loved to cover him because our favorite players are those who are taken in the lower rounds (4th round and on) as they are our underdogs.

Players like Renaud are the ones who have to work that much harder, are the ones who people do not think are going to make or simply are those diamonds in the rough. Anytime someone like a Renaud makes it then it says "Yes dreams can come true with hard work".

See players like Renaud are what you dream of covering, the ones who with their hard work, with their dedication and their desire overcome the odds and make it. For us it is the stories like Nigel Dawes and Ryan Callahan who were told they were not gong to be make it for one reason or another and proved everyone wrong.

Renaud according to all those who knew him was a popular player, he was the captain of the Windsor Spitfires and according to those with the Flames had a very good shot at making it to the NHL. Now though we will never know how this story might have ended except that we know one thing and that is Mickey Renaud is gone at age 19 and we are left wondering why.

We have a ton of questions as to how does an otherwise healthy 19 year old young man pass away so suddenly. How a promising young man just collapses and dies just makes no sense.

Even as adults there is nothing that ever prepares us for any kind of sudden death. We can not even begin to imagine the shock, the pain and the hurting that the Spitfire family is dealing with right now.

We do not know why but we have been avoiding using the word "kid" so far and maybe that is wrong of us to be doing. When we boil everything down we are talking about kids who are playing an adult game, living adult lifestyles but without all the perks of being adults.

When we look at those kids on the Spitfires; we cannot help but to feel as if this was a loss for all of us. Sure people pass away every day and the world goes on but what do you say to this bunch of kids?

Sunday they were beating the Owen Sound Attack 4-1, they were trying to stay within 2 points of the first place Saute Ste Marie Greyhounds in the OHL's West Division in the Western Conference. They had just clinched a playoff spot late last week and were thinking ahead to a shot for perhaps the number 2 seed in their conference for the OHL playoffs.

Monday was supposed to be a fun day, a day off as they gathered for the "Skate for Charity-Family Fun Day" as part of the Family Day holiday and instead they are gathered to be told that their captain, their teammate and their friend is gone.

Now they are about to discover the harsher parts about life which is that despite losing someone you care for that life goes on and in their case so will their hockey season. The team and OHL will make grief counselors available for the team. When they play they will have a patch on their uniform to help them remember their friend but it will not be the same.

How do you tell these teenager kids that they have to shake it off and get back to the ice? Sure we can use all those corny old sayings like "Win it for Mickey" or "this is what Mickey would have wanted them to do" but sorry sometimes those are the wrong ways to handle things.

What we need to do is let these kids grieve, help them deal not only with their emotions but the questions they are going to have about what happened. We for one do not believe that getting back on the ice will help with the grieving process but we would really like it to be their choice and their decision without any pressure from adults.

Today we will grieve like the rest of the OHL and even the hockey world, tomorrow we will get back to what we are supposed do which is cover our Ranger prospects. We will do so with a deeper appreciation for what each and every one of them does to chase that dream.

After all life does go on.

Prospect Park wishes to extend to the Renaud family, the Windsor Spitfires, their players, their families and their fans our deepest and most heartfelt sympathies.

(Mickey Renaud's picture courtesy of the OHL/Windsor Spitfires)


Sam said...

Hey Jess,

A great and moving entry. Life is very fragile, no matter what age.

Anthony M said...


One of your best entries ever - definitely from the heart. It just goes to show there are more important things in life than arguing about whether or not Tom Renney is a good coach or not.