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Playoff memories never to be forgotten
Rekindling the wounds of 1999
4/17/07 - By Mike Lee

When the Sharks take the ice on Wednesday night, it will be two days shy of the 8th anniversary of one of the most horrific days in American history. It was a Tuesday afternoon on April 20, 1999, like most in the United States, when two high school students walked onto the campus of Columbine High School and began shooting fellow school mates.

You may ask yourself how that has anything to do with hockey. I thought long and hard about writing this column, but I thought it was fitting given the events that have unfolded this week.

Columbine High School, you may recall, is located in a suburb of Denver, Colorado. Four days after that fateful Spring day, the Sharks would lock horns with the Colorado Avalanche in a Western Conference quarter-final match up. The games would be played, but the attention of a nation was focused on a high school in a middle class community in the Rocky Mountains.

Twelve students and a teacher would lose their lives that day. The two students who perpetrated the assault would also take their own lives after the savage act. It stunned the world that something so senseless could happen.

The Sharks organization rallied its fan base in an attempt to show support for the small Denver community. A moment of silence was recognized before Game 1 at HP Pavilion, even though one of the biggest series of the playoffs was about to kick off.

The Sharks would follow that up with a massive card intended to extend the Littleton, Colorado community the condolences of the orgnization and fans alike. Thousands of Sharks fans signed that card on their way into the Tank before Game 2. Several Sharks players personally delivered it to the people of Littleton on April 27th, the day before Game 3 in Denver.

San Jose became etched in the fabric of Colorado that fateful week, not as an opponent, but as a supporter. We helped mourn the dead, and grieved with a town shattered by a senseless act of violence.

So here we are eight years later, ready to continue the tradition that is playoff hockey in one of the greatest arena's in the NHL, and like that grey April day in 1999, those that attended Monday night's game were met with another moment of silence.

The Sharks had planned on honoring the passing of former goaltender coach Warren Strelow, who passed away last Wednesday, but the organization had the sorrowful duty of extending a city's sympathy to a small college town in Virginia as well.

Monday's shooting rampage at Virginia Tech University in Blacksburg, rekindled all of the pain that was associated to the Columbine incident 8 years earlier. Another senseless act, carried out by a coward who cut down 32 people in cold blood.

My wife and I were expecting out first child back in 1999, and I remember asking myself if bringing a child into a world like this was the right thing to do. I was second guessing one of teh greatest events in my personal life because of the callous acts of two high school students who held no regard for life themselves.

I had no idea what to expect as a parent back then, because I had no experience at rearing children. The Virginia Tech shooting reminds me of how little I really control as a parent now. We can provide for our children and guide them as best we can, but at the end of the day we are at the mercy of society in many ways.

After all the shenanigans that went on in Games 1 & 2 in Nashville, the Virginia Tech news put things back into perspective. It was a test if you will, of all the things that we take for granted. Sure it's fun to taunt cities like Nashville and Denver, but at the end of the day hockey is just a game.

So go watch Game 4 on Wednesday night and Game 5 on Friday with all the passion that you can muster as a fan. But keep the games in perspective. They are games after all. Be thankful that the sun will rise for you those days, so that you can enjoy them. There are 32 in Virginia who will never have thay opportunity again.



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