By: Kevin Adshade
Martin Brodeur turned 40 last Sunday, two days before his New Jersey Devils knocked the favoured Philadelphia Flyers out of the Stanley Cup playoffs in five games. Future enshrinement in the hockey hall of fame is already a given for the goaltending great – there's no debating that, but if one wanted to argue for it, one could start with his three Stanley Cup rings, and a fourth perhaps to come in a few weeks' time. I don't think Brodeur is yet done with his hockey career – he probably has at least one more season in him, but winning another Stanley Cup would be a great way for him to go out, if he does retire.
Phoenix? Los Angeles? New Jersey? Who would have thought those three teams would make it to the NHL's final four, joined by the winner of the Washington Capitals/New York Rangers series?
Not many, maybe not anybody. And yet here they are, all of those teams with a golden opportunity right in front of him. The thought of a Stanley Cup parade in Phoenix makes me slightly ill, but it would be a remarkable sports story nonetheless.
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Non-Sports Thought of the Week: for many Pictou County residents, memories of the 1992 Westray disaster came rushing back this week, 20 years after 26 men died in a massive explosion at the Plymouth coal mine. Those memories were further prodded by an excellent series of articles by Adam MacInnis of The News this week, along with fascinating recollections from veteran local radio newsmen Rod Mackie and Don MacKenzie on Wednesday, a day that dawned cold and rainy, a gloom not unlike the day 20 years ago when Westray exploded. I wasn't living here then – that wouldn't be for another seven years – but I clearly remember watching the live coverage on CBC television that day. I can conjure up Jim Nunn in his yellow rain jacket on a grey Saturday, most of us still holding out hope for the trapped miners, not long before we all realized that it was indeed hopeless for those 26 men and their families.
As the years passed, as charges against mine operators were dropped, as it became clear there would be no accountability in a courtroom for the men who failed to protect those miners (although deemed guilty as sin in the court of public opinion), a sense of anger set in. I'm not sure it ever went away, and I'm not sure it should. If we didn't already know before then, when it comes to greed, some are incapable of seeing past the dollar signs in their eyes – no matter the price.
It's probably a small consolation for those most affected by the disaster, but those who were entrusted with the safety of those miners, if nothing else, have had to live with their actions for the rest of their lives. No one could have expected the mine to blow up, but we could rightly expect people to do their jobs, and not put lives at risk.
The Westray monument in Parkdale is beautiful in its simplicity, yet sombre because it represents a dark and terrible time in Pictou County history. Once in awhile I'll be cycling near the monument and stop in to reflect, reading the names and ages of people I never knew and never will. Twenty years – it's hard to believe it's been so long.
Kevin Adshade is a sports columnist for The News.