“Pro hockey is back to provide the thrills and excitement its fans want, and need, in light of the recent tragic events.” — Phil Coffey, (official National Hockey League site)


Pittsburgh, Pa. ( – The National Hockey League opened its regular season Wednesday, offering fans a welcome respite from last month’s stunningly mindless violence by allowing them to sit back and watch players from Calgary to Colorado entertain them with stunningly mindless violence.


In Pittsburgh, Penguin right winger Stephane Richer slammed Colorado Avalanche forward Eric Messier into the boards, injuring Messier’s shoulder in a senseless attack that temporarily mitigated memories of the senseless attacks on America on Sept. 11. Colorado won the game 3-1.

In Toronto, Maple Leafs’ center Darcy Tucker did his part to distract fans from the seemingly random brutality of a chaotic world by blindsiding Ottawa’s Karel Rachunek, leaving the Senator defenseman motionless on the ice for 10 minutes. Ottawa squeaked out a 5-4 win. Rachunek was taken off on a stretcher.

“The disquieting images of New York and Washington are forever encased on the minds of millions, but at some point, we have to let ourselves escape those images,” Tucker said in a post-game interview. “But I will say this: Whether people perpetrate violence against others for political reasons or religious reasons, it’s unjustifiable and inherently wrong,”

Tucker added that he went after Rachune for entirely different reasons. “He was standing there,” Tucker explained.

Off the ice, fans in Canada and the United States shared a visceral sense of relief that professional hockey had returned, and that the games would furnish, no matter how fleetingly, some relief from the terrible events of September.

“I’ll never forget what happened last month, but coming here to the game with my boy acts as a salve for our emotional scars,” said Maple Leafs’ fan Steve Karnocko, as he watched the game with his 7-year-old son, Mario. “We may have more scars yet to come – I don’t know what’s going to happen in the coming days and weeks – but it’s my hope that my son won’t have to grow up in an world riddled with violen… Oh c’mon, Corson! You gonna take that bullshit from Muckalt? Deck the bastard!”

Added Calgary Flames left winger Jeff Cowan, who in the opening period got into a brawl with Edmonton Oilers defenseman Steve Staois. “Even though I was out there on the ice tonight, safely ensconced in an environment far removed from the troubles of society, I could not help but be haunted by the words of John Lennon as I attempted to pull (Staois’) jersey over his head and knock his lights out. ‘Imagine there’s no countries, It isn’t hard to do. Nothing to kill or die for, And no religion too. Imagine all the people, Living life in peace.”

Cown and Staois were both penalized with five-minute fighting majors. Calgary won the game 1-0.

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