Sports College hockey players become cheerleaders and brothers to their teammate battling cancer
Looking back at the embarrassment of riches in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft first round
Five players selected that night went on to appear in at least 1,000 NHL games, including Penguins icon Sydney Crosby.With the lack of regular-season standings to determine the draft order, the league implemented a snake draft system to make things more equitable for teams in later rounds that didn’t fare so well in the draft lottery. One team that did fare well that night, though, was the Pittsburgh Penguins, who cemented a 15-plus year run of success by drafting future captain Sidney Crosby with the first overall pick.
Imagine you're an All-American collegiate hockey player. It's your 25th birthday, you feel fit and healthy, and life seems full of possibilities. But then you're blindsided by a catastrophic medical diagnosis. You have cancer.
That was the mind-numbing reality for Luke Davison, who was just about to begin his senior season at St Norbert College in De Pere, Wisconsin.
"It was a five-minute phone call," Davison told WBAY-TV. "Basically told me I had cancer, and I had to go get a scan to see how bad it is."
Former first-round pick Nick Merkley signs in KHL
The Calgary native has signed a one-year contract of KHL side Dinamo Minsk.Merkley, 25, has been a talented, high-end scorer at every level of hockey he’s played in besides the NHL. At the AHL level, Merkley has 157 points in 201 career games. At that level, he’s a line-driving playmaker with a knack for setting up his linemates and finding his way onto the scoresheet. At the NHL level, Merkley has struggled to make his mark, and his lack of size (he’s just 5-foot-10, 195 pounds) and his lack of breakaway skating talent have combined to make him ineffective in an NHL role.
The scan revealed he had Stage 3 advanced Hodgkin's Lymphoma, and Davison was told he faced several rounds of chemotherapy.
"You go from the highs of the highs in the sports world and in life to the lows of the lows," St. Norbet's Head Coach, Tim Coghlin, told Green Bay's The Press Times. "We were devastated when it came out it was cancer, and this was a thing he was going to have to battle."
Davison was scheduled to have a port put into his chest for chemotherapy at Aurora Baycare Medical Hospital in Green Bay, Wisconsin. A GoFundMe was on its way to exceeding $30,000, and of course, he had the sympathy and support of friends and family. Nevertheless, the walk up to the hospital on a grey and windy morning was daunting. But he wasn't alone.
Sexual violence is deeply rooted in Canadian sports, experts say. What’s the fix?
Gender-based violence experts said a systemic solution is needed from leadership if Hockey Canada truly wants to reform the violent culture in sports.In May, TSN reported that Hockey Canada had settled an alleged sexual assault lawsuit involving eight members of the 2018 World Juniors championship team.
Watch the video above to see Luke receive an incredible display of love and support from his family, friends, and teammates.
At the hospital entrance, Luke was treated to an unforgettable welcome from his entire hockey squad, plus coaches, friends, supporters, family, and even the team mascot. Banners and signs bore heartfelt messages, while fist bumps and embraces filled his heart with the spirit of the locker room.
The touching gesture was organized by Luke's friend and teammate Tim Nicksic, who reached out to Davison's fiancé for details of his first appointment.
"Everyone was on board, and I didn't know how it was going to go," Nicksic said. "We got there, and we got the Norby Knight costume, the coaches came, and we're all dressed up in our St. Norbert hockey outfits.
The surprise went even better than planned and had a profound effect on Luke.
"I was so happy to show up for the hospital because I saw like all my teammates there, coaches. And it was just like, alright this is no big deal. I got everybody behind me," Davison said.
Hockey Manitoba head backs Hockey Canada in wake of sex assault controversy
The head of Hockey Manitoba is defending the national organization's actions in the wake of a sexual assault controversy, saying Hockey Canada has taken the right steps. "I think Hockey Canada has recognized that they've made some errors, they've acknowledged some mistakes that have been made throughout this process, and they're trying to correct those. They've put together a very strong action plan," Hockey Manitoba executive director Peter Woods told CBC Manitoba Information Radio host Marcy Markusa on Monday.
And the outpouring of support didn't stop when Luke entered the hospital as his hockey squad continued to rally around him for the duration of his chemotherapy, even shaving their heads to make him feel better after his own hair began falling out due to the chemo.
"My teammates were the biggest factor in keeping me sane and spreading positivity the best they could," Luke said. "They were incredible throughout the process."
The display of camaraderie and team spirit filled Luke's coach with pride. "The troops rallied hard around him," said Tim Coghlin. "Everybody was in his corner. Our group was tremendous from start to finish."
And the team's gesture did not go unnoticed, as the video of their welcome committee grabbed attention all over the tight-knit hockey world. Buffalo Sabres Head Coach, Don Granato, was among the first to make contact, and even had a jersey made to hang in the locker room bearing Davison's No. 28.
Meanwhile, all-time great, Mario Lemiuex, who had two bouts of Hodgkin's Lymphoma during his NHL career, sent a letter of support, a signed hockey puck, and a tee-shirt from the Mario Lemieux Foundation. "I can't imagine people going through this alone because I've gotten so much support, and it's still hard," Davison said.
"It was amazing to see the amount of support in the hockey community," said Coach Coghlin. "Lots of prayers and lots of faith; that's how you get through it."
The treatment was grueling, though Luke did his best to keep up with his studies, working with his professors to finish his classes at St. Norbert to earn his degree.
Finally, after six months of chemo, the story had a happy ending when Luke learned he was cancer-free
"It's a new chance at life," he told The Press Times. “It's helped me learn not to take things for granted and show the people in my life you love them and how much they mean to you."
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY:
Handling of sexual abuse claims puts Hockey Canada on thin ice with hockey parents .
Recent revelations about how sexual assault allegations were handled by Hockey Canada, the body that governs the sport in this country, has left some hockey families in turmoil over repeated black eyes to their beloved sport. Hockey Canada is under intense fire for how the organization handled allegations of sexual assault by former players and the funds it used to settle related lawsuits. "The more that comes out, the more frustrated people are getting," said Theresa Bailey, a hockey mom who has shepherded her own three players in Madoc, Ont., for 17 years.