After a week of debating head shots and concussions, all of us hockey fans probably need something a little bit more uplifting to digest. A Penguins fan offers this:
"My wife Kris and I attended the Penguins-Canadiens game, March 12th. We bought the tickets the moment they went on sale in September and have been looking forward to a game in the new arena since. My wife's favorite player has been and always will be Alexei Kovalev. So her excitement sky rocketed a few weeks back when he was traded back to the Penguins.
We live in Cincinnati and an annual trip to a Pens game was a tradition we started before we were married. That tradition continued until March of 2006 when she was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma at the age of 28. She battled her way through two regiments of chemotherapy, a stem cell transplant and radiation. She has been cancer free since the summer of 2007. We celebrate her new "Birthday" on March 14th each year since 2007 is the date she received her new cells from the transplant. We were using our trip to the game to celebrate her fourth anniversary/birthday.
Now that I have given the background, here is where the story gets amazing. Our seats were in Section 113, Row B, Seats 1 and 2. I was sitting right on the blue line across from the Pens bench with Kris to my right. We fought through an hour of Pittsburgh traffic to arrive at the Marriott parking garage just after 1 p.m. We rushed up the hill to get inside to see warm-ups. After exploring for a few minutes and finding our way to the Captain Morgan Club we were in our seats ready for warm ups.
Once the players hit the ice Kris was intent on getting a good view and pictures of Kovy, who she refers to as "my boyfriend". She was sad when he went down into the corner to stretch on the ice. But after a few minutes he was standing right in front of us on the blue line with his back to the glass. He started to stick handle and then juggle the puck on his stick. We were both taking pictures and watching in amazement. I think she was out of her skin with excitement.
Then without warning he flipped the puck over his head and into the first row of seats. Holding my drink and my phone to take pictures I was helpless to try and get it. A lady in the front row scurried down and swooped it up. I was so disappointed that I didn't get it for Kris. But just then he started juggling with another puck. By then a crowd had come down to see if he would do it again. I set my drink down and put my phone away. I thought, 'If he does it again, no way I'm not getting that puck for her.'
Within a few seconds he flipped the puck over his shoulder high in the air. It was on the perfect line heading right for me. I reached as high as I could and wrapped both hands around it. I turned and handed it to Kris. It was a moment I will never forget. I am certain she won't either. Normally, if I would have caught a puck or ball at a game I would give it to one of the kids around me. But on this day, my wife was meant to be at that game and get that puck from her favorite all time player and 'boyfriend,' Alexei Kovalev. For a few minutes I sat there in disbelief of what had just happened.
I know it's just a hockey game and just a hockey puck but I felt like she experienced that to partially make up for everything she had to go through. So in closing, Alexei has no idea who he flipped that puck to and what it meant to her as his No. 1 fan, but I want to thank him, and the Penguins organization for creating a life long memory for us. I also want to thank the Lemieux family and foundation for their dedication and efforts to making recoveries like hers possible.
Go Pens! "
(Photo: Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)