I knew you all those years watching you behind the Canadiens bench. You were one of my great heroes, taking care of all the great ones playing with Les Canadiens. You didn’t know me but you are one of those amazing people who has what is known as reach.
You weren’t, ‘just a trainer’ for the players, you were their listener when things went crappy, when players were frustrated with their injuries, they would talk to you one on one in the skate sharpening room. Whatever was said to you stayed in that room. You were the confident for everybody. You were trusted not to wimp on anyone. All the players loved and respected you for that.
We knew them of course as Belliveau or Lafleur or Cournoyer. You knew them as their go-to-guy. You had the repair skill of a surgeon, be it stitching slashed equipment or custom fitting hockey pants.
You were first in the room and last out. Everybody, I mean everybody called on your skills. You always responded with grace combined with accuracy, no task was too small, too repetitive.
Here is the great Jacques Plante, it’s hard to imagine that in the NHL goalies didn’t wear masks, let alone helmet masks. My Dad, Hollie Edward McHugh may have spoken to you about this. My Dad played goalie at McGill in the 1930’s. My Dad almost lost an eye during a playoff game, broke his wrist plus lost a bunch of teeth. This is the kind of norm for goalies. You had to fix them up too. You had to deal with their concussions. That took a lot of skill, trying to get them through their fuzziness, their downs, just not being themselves. You were always there for them. They never forgot your generosity, you are in their hearts now forever.
So here’s what I would say about the state of the game for concussions. Here’s a dream, Eddy from a real fan.
I dream of catching a concussion right after it happens. We’ll pull the player aside to slip this Montreal invented gizzmo on him while he’s seated in the hushed quiet of the Bell Centre locker room. With the simplicity of using a Apple iPad App, the Montreal gizzmo will quickly do its thing revealing a color coded curve. The image will contain all the players medical stats, including a host of baseline measurements. The hit response will either be in the safe color or in the red image of the App. Just like that, no more, ‘How do you feel, what day are we?’ The answer will be there in a Crosby five minutes: it’s either safe to play or treatment.
Yes Eddy I dream of a treatment too. Just like the stitches for torn skin, to bring cut surfaces together, there will be a treatment for concussions too. What we have seen with Sidney Crosby sidelined for all those long months, we will be past the point of self repair. No more vertigo, no more memory lapses, no more sudden mood changes, no more depression.
So you see Eddy I have taken on your job as a trainer. I want to do all the right things, in my own arena, to get people back into their game. Watch over me Eddy teach me more of your skills. I want to be the best trainer there is just like you were.