Comment: New season must start with stick tap to remember every fan lost to pandemic
Ice hockey’s return later this month will be very special moment for fans whose autumn and winter weekends revolve around rinks and arenas.
But, amid the roar from the stands as the puck drops after the longest lay-off for generations, a few tears may fall.
Not everyone will be rinkside. Some seats will remain empty.
Hockey fans are a close knit bunch. Friendships, as well as rivalries, are forged in bars before and after games, and weekends are spent sitting surrounded by familiar faces, many of them wearing the same replica shirts.
You see them on road trips - in motorway cafes at ridiculous hours of the morning, and wandering around cities killing time mid afternoon.
But, they won’t all be there when ice hockey returns.
The sport needs to remember all those who died during lockdown, or were left facing such a long recovery that a night at the ice hockey remains a distant dream.
That’s why the suggestion from fan, Tanya Reid, chimed.
The Glasgow Clan fan tweeted the suggestion of a stick tap for all those faces lost forever.
A moment to stand, applaud, and remember the people who have been part of their club for many, many seasons.
It’s such a simple idea, it has to be adopted league wide across the opening weekend – in addition to any local initiatives.
It’s also a beautiful, poignant, and inclusive way of remembering fellow fans - and it’d mean so much to their families and those they shared great moments with, rinkside and on the road.
Sport is nothing without fans - football discovered that when matches were held in silent, empty stadia - and so, it must acknowledge their absence.
Ice hockey is also a sport which absorbs you. Life is planned around the fixture schedules - it really is that important to so many.
A stick tap is surely the most fitting way of acknowledging the pain, the losses and the hurt of the past 18 months before the first roar from the stands signals game on.
I cannot think of a single reason why the EIHL wouldn’t simply say ‘let’s do this.’
It’s entirely fitting. Let’s make it happen.