So I'm stealing this idea from Ryan. I'm going to make a couple posts over the next little while about heroes in my life. These may be musicians, athletes, humanitarians, or just people that have talked to me or I have heard talk and they have changed the way I think.
So the first hero of mine is....
(I have this pic by my bed for inspiration)
Saku is the captain, and the heart and soul of the Montreal Canadiens. While he is an excellent player with tremendous skills and leadership abilities, that is not what makes him a hero to me. Instead it is his valiant battle he had with cancer, which he defeated. I remember September of 2001 like it was yesterday. The Canadiens had not made the playoffs in a couple years and seemed to be injury ridden and this was a huge blow to the team. But more importantly I was worried for Saku's health, it didn't really matter if he was going to be able to play hockey the next season or whatever, I just wanted him to be healthy again. Well that season the Habs made it to the playoffs mainly on the back of MVP Jose Theodore. And then to my surprise Saku actually came back to play the last few games of the regular season and the playoffs the same year he was diagnosed with the cancer and underwent chemotherapy. I remember listening to the game he returned against Ottawa on internet radio. The fans gave him a good eight minute standing ovation which was very emotional to listen to. It is probably the most emotion I have heard and felt associated with a sports game before.
This is not the only major obstacle that Saku has had to overcome. In the 2006 playoffs against the Carolina Hurricanes he was struck in the eye by Justin Williams high stick (no penalty on the play, don't even get me started with that). It was a frightening scene as he lay in the pool of blood. He ended up suffering a detached retina and could not play the rest of the series. He had eye surgery over the off-season and much to my surprise and delight he came back for this season.
What I admire the most about him is the way that he is so persistent and fights through whatever obstacle is thrown in his way.
I think we can all learn a thing or two from Saku about being warriors and never giving up.