Snyder death a lesson for all

This week’s column was supposed to be about what originally were important topics—the Chicago Cubs winning their first playoff series since 1908, the Saskatchewan Roughriders’ inane media boycott launched by their players, and the start of the new NHL season.
I was going to talk about hockey pools, predictions for this season, and perhaps an early favourite or two for Lord Stanley’s mug.
But the harsh realities of real life—and death—have rendered all the aforementioned subjects irrelevant for the time being.
As I’m sure most of you know by now, Atlanta Thrashers’ centre Dan Snyder died Sunday night—six days after the second-year NHL player was involved in a horrific one-vehicle crash when the Ferrari driven by teammate Dany Heatley spun off the road and was cut in two after hitting a brick and wrought iron fence.
The 25-year-old from Elmira, Ont. probably was never going to make any all-star teams like Heatley, who scored 41 goals last season and was the Most Valuable Player of the NHL’s All-Star Game.
Snyder was one of those grinders that every hockey team needs to strengthen its foundation—a guy more worried about winning the battle in the corners than lighting up the scoreboard.
But cruel fate doesn’t pick and choose its victims, nor care about their backgrounds. And now Snyder is gone, leaving behind a grieving collection of family and friends—and a team left to sort out where it goes from here.
Though I am too young to remember Tim Horton, the death of Snyder is eerily similar to that of the Toronto Maple Leafs blueline legend.
Horton—one of the game’s best defenceman in his prime—was in the twilight of his career with the Buffalo Sabres when he was killed in a one-vehicle accident on Feb. 21, 1974.
Like Heatley, he was driving in his own treasured sports car. It was a vehicle that his coach at the time, George (Punch) Imlach, warned him could lead to disastrous consequences if Horton wasn’t careful.
Horton, unfortunately, proved Imlach right.
The most tragic part of the whole Snyder affair is, like Horton’s, it could have been prevented.
Heatley reportedly was driving in the 130 km/h range in a 55 km/h zone at the time of the accident, and now is facing a variety of charges, including possibly first-degree vehicular homicide.
He was the present and future of the Thrashers, a hard-nosed graduate of the Alberta Junior Hockey League ranks who had just scratched the surface of his immense talent. He was a superstar athlete, rich and handsome, and invincible—or so he thought.
In an instant, his life was forever changed, and now, the life of a colleague and dear friend is over.
Many people don’t want to hear about the moral of the story in times like this, but now is exactly the time to emphasize the lesson that had to be highlighted in such a sad and senseless way.
It’s not tied into the amount of money these players made, the type of car they were driving, or the level of their fame. It’s a lesson that is applicable to all of society—and one I hope isn’t lost on people in this area.
The world is ours for the taking, but the choices we make could alter that fact more dramatically than we even can imagine right now.
When we get behind the wheel, we are not indestructible. We are at the mercy of not only our own judgment, but the judgment of all those we encounter on the roadways.
The speed limit, contrary to popular belief, is not a suggestion. It’s there for a reason. I’m just as guilty of forgetting this fact sometimes.
If you’re speeding to show off, understand that you’re not impressing anybody while you’re endangering everybody. If you add a little pressure to the pedal because you’re late in arriving somewhere, make plans to take the extra time you need to get there—or plan to apologize when you arrive for being late.
I’m certain your awaiting party, be it the boss at your workplace, your friends at the local eatery, or your wife or husband and children at home would rather you be late than have you never arrive at all.
Dany Heatley didn’t believe speed could kill. That thinking cost him dearly, and it cost Dan Snyder even more.
Next time you turn the key in the ignition, think of Dan Snyder. Cliché or not, you just might save a life—even your own.
• • • Good luck to the Muskie cross-country running team, which is in Thunder Bay today for their second SSSAA meet of the season. This is the last preliminary race before the NWOSSAA finals slated next Friday (Oct. 17) in Thunder Bay.
The squad is coming off a fairly successful opening meet two weeks ago, when Heather Dutton captured the senior girls’ division while all the Muskie runners posted top-25 results.
• • •
The public is welcome to attend the fall meeting of the Rainy Lake Nordic Ski Club today at 7 p.m. in the conference room at the Memorial Sports Centre.
The agenda will include a review of club bylaws, the election or re-election of officers, a financial review, and a look at plans for the coming season, including fundraising options.
A club walk and “trail social” is slated for this Saturday (Oct. 11) at 10 a.m. in the parking lot at the start of the Rocky Inlet Trail (which is located on George Armstrong Drive off Highway 11 just east of the Causeway).
• • •
Three for four in my baseball playoff picks (all three in the exact number of games I suggested, by the way— yes , miracles can happen) proves I at least had an inkling of what to expect in the major league post-season (go Cubs!).
Take the N.Y. Yankees over the Boston Red Sox in five games in the American League Championship Series while those Windy City warriors from Chicago will reel in the pesky Florida Marlins in six in the NLCS.

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