Some of the players have changed, but team sentiment has not.
The Canucks arrived in Ottawa late Tuesday night and instead of taking Wednesday morning to recuperate following a 5-3 win in Columbus, the team attended the National Remembrance Day Ceremony at the National War Memorial.
Poppies on their jackets with heads held high, the players were among the 35,000 people who paused and honoured Canadians who died fighting for their country.
The team last attended the ceremony in 2010, while also in town to later face the Senators. Alex Burrows was there then and again on this day; he said there was no question the team would partake to show its respects.
“Sometimes the schedule just works out in our favour and we’re able to attend,” said Burrows, following a two-hour ceremony that included prayers, a 21-gun salute and a veteran parade, and was also taken in by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
“It’s an honour to be able to show our respects for the men and women who keep Canada strong and free. It’s the right thing to do and whenever we’re able to be here, we will be.”
The mood was somber, the air cool as the Canucks sang O Canada, God Save the Queen and observed two minutes of silence, which ended with two Canadian Forces jets screaming by overhead.
The team practiced at the Canadian Tire Centre Wednesday afternoon, with one noticeable change in the dressing room pre-practice. In place of the usual jovial chitchat, the guys were discussing the ceremony.
Adam Cracknell, for one, was quite moved by the experience.
“It was a very special, very emotional ceremony for me and my family; my dad was happy I could attend and honour my grandfathers,” said Cracknell.
Alan Cracknell, his dad’s father, was a gunnery captain who served from 1939 to the end of the Second World War, while Henry Tien, his mom’s father, served in the military police. Both fulfilled their duties and later passed away from old age.
“It’s not just my grandfathers, if a lot of those people don’t fight for us, we might not be here right now enjoying the freedoms we do. Today was an unforgettable experience being able to say thank you for what’s been done and their continued efforts.”
I personally don’t have any connection to the wars, my grandfathers didn’t fight and I’ve never even known anyone who has. Still, this ceremony was moving and gave me a deeper appreciation for those who have helped make Canada what it is. Thank you for everything you do.
On a side note: while walking back to the team hotel, we got to see “the boss.”
“He’s in that SUV right there,” pointed Jacob Markstrom.
“Who’s the boss – and if you say Tony Danza…”
“C’mon man, Trudeau, the boss!”
It was and it was boss.
Cheers from Ottawa!