As I write this letter, I’m in near-shock. It seems like blasphemy to write this.
I wasn't always the biggest hockey fan, but I was quickly drawn to the game by your spectacular play.
I've often felt the warm glow of pride in watching you, as not only one of our country’s greatest exports and a preternaturally talented hockey player, but as simply a good, decent boy (now a man, I suppose, though it’s so hard to think of you as anything but “The Kid”).
And I was as disappointed as anyone to see you hurt yet again, after months of effort and rehabilitation and struggles to get back on the ice after you were severely concussed last January. Maybe even more so than most.
Maybe this is the “mom” coming out in me. But as a mom — and secondly, a fan — this is becoming too hard to watch, Sid, and so, I have to offer some motherly advice.
Those images of you from last year, the ever-triumphant Kid, lying crumpled and motionless on the ice, are too much to bear.
I don’t want to see another horrifying head shot that ends your career and robs you of future successes or even worse, your life. Your presence on the ice, while still dazzling, is also incredibly nerve-wracking.
Although you’re only seven years younger than me (!), I've always felt a certain maternal pride in watching—and cheering—your successes.
And there were so many incredible moments: that golden Olympic goal, hoisting the Stanley Cup, the fist pumps, your team jumping all over you in victory, the triumph in your eyes, even your scream, “f--- yeah!” after your first goal came unbelievably quickly after so many months of being sidelined.
What a thrill it has been to watch you, knowing how hard you’ve worked for all of it and what a great example you’ve set as a pro athlete. Your steely focus and unyielding passion is inspirational to everyone.
But in a beautiful Canadian game that has become devastatingly brutal, your newly fragile state has, so unfortunately, changed everything.
As much as I’ve never wanted to say or even think this, I now have to say it: You should seriously consider retiring, Sid.
I’d rather see you walk away with your well-deserved place in hockey history firmly established and a bright future ahead, a future that includes experiencing the very sweetest, albeit different, things life has to offer: spending time with family, finding the love of your life, perhaps starting your own family.
Also, you could pursue a stellar career in the industry, whether in sports broadcasting, or as a coach or even higher-ranking NHL position. You can still use your incredible abilities to make a difference in the game, Sid.
Over the last 11 months, as you carefully took your time to recover from a severe concussion, I wanted only to believe that you would come back, strong as ever. And I held out hope.
Your first game back was exhilarating to watch. I can only imagine the adrenaline rush you experienced. Sadly, it wouldn’t last.
I know this is about much more than fame, money, glory — any of it. It’s about the game of hockey, which has been your life since — well, forever. I understand how much you love this game, that you live and breathe it. It's in your blood. I can only imagine that the thought of life without playing hockey must, at this moment, be utterly terrifying.
But life goes on, Sid. There’s a full and beautiful life waiting for you outside the rink. Is it really worth putting your health, maybe even your life, on the line every time you lace up your skates?
As much as I — and so many others — wanted to believe that watching you back in action Nov. 21 meant that life in the hockey world would go on as if the last 11 months had never happened, we were wrong.
It took only eight games before your symptoms resurfaced, not only leaving again a serious gap in the game, but leading to quick and rampant speculation that this is the end of the line for you.
This time may not be the end. In however long it takes to you to “feel right” again, you may well end up back in the lineup and there may be more beautiful goals and breathtaking plays to come. But how far will the possibility of the end ever be?
There’s no question the game of hockey won’t be the same without you. But maybe it would take your premature retirement for real change to happen.
The recent increasing brutality of what could be such a compelling game — and the devastating recent spate of injuries such as yours — has for me, largely ruined Canada’s national pastime.
You made hockey so much fun to watch, Sid. But amid the disturbing images of head shots and report after report of brain damage and other horrific injuries, it’s just not fun anymore.
I hope at the very least, as you work on your recovery once again, you ask yourself: is it really worth the risk?
As a mom, I'd have to say it's absolutely not.