Bob Johnson who coached the Wisconsin Badgers and Pittsburgh Penguins was famous for his saying "It's a great day for hockey!" but Saturday was just the opposite--it was a very tough day for hockey in Atlanta.
Before the Thrasher game the Atlanta Amateur Hockey League laid to rest a pillar of the local hockey community Larry Pickett. Larry was the long-time secretary of the league and his wife continues to work with the league. Five years ago in his mid-40s Larry was diagnosed with ALS and after a brave struggle the disease took his life this week. Larry was a good hockey player (he skated around me more than a few times) but an even better person. He will be greatly missed by the hockey community here.
I don't really push causes on this blog, but if any readers are interested, Hannah Dudley is walking in memory of Larry in the upcoming Walk to Defeat ALS fundraiser in Atlanta. If you wish to participate or assist her, click here
to go to her page. I myself have participated in the walk in the past on behalf of Carrie Meystrik the wife of a team mate who was also burdened with this disease.
In addition to the loss of Larry, another long-time AAHL player Terry Gahl passed away and will be laid rest on Sunday. I played one season against Terry and his son in one of the local leagues and it is very sad to know that another young man has lost his father at an early age.
So I went to the Thrasher game tonight hoping for a bit of diversion or at least a pleasant distraction and for a while it seemed I would get my wish as the team jumped out to 4-2 lead midway through the game. Martin Brodeur was not at his best but the Thrashers failed to take advantage of a rare 5 goals against by the New Jersey star and let this one slip away. Frankly, I'm worn out right now and a bit emotional so I'll just end by saying this team is going nowhere until it gets better play out of the top defensive pairing of Zhitnik and Havelid.