It was tragic and sad, sudden and unexpected. And the death of Luc Bourdon at age 21 also was avoidable.
Bourdon was killed yesterday morning, apparently when the motorcycle he was driving struck a transport truck near his home in northern New Brunswick.
Not to be insensitive and not to assess blame, or diminish the magnitude of his death -- it is wickedly horrible, especially for the Bourdon family. But it is worth reminding that every day we make decisions that impact our lives, and Bourdon made a bad decision that ended his.
Forgetting that accidents can happen to anyone, as a professional athlete, a top prospect of the Vancouver Canucks, by riding a motorcycle the young defenceman was putting himself at great risk.
Yes, he could have been killed or injured accidentally a multitude of different ways, but riding a motorcycle increased the risk -- plain and simple. As good as he might have been at riding that bike, there were other factors beyond his control that still could have inflicted damage and, yes, death.
It just wasn't a wise thing to do.
The standard players contract prohibits a player "from participating in football, baseball, softball, hockey (other than with his team), lacrosse, boxing, wrestling or other athletic sport that may impair or destroy his ability and skill as a player," without written consent from the team.
Riding a motorcycle isn't prohibited, and likely won't ever be included in the list, but if there is a lesson for any young person, athlete or not, to take away from this horrible passing, it is to reduce the risks you can control.
As Paul Kelly, the head of the NHL Players' Association, said yesterday in a statement: "Through hard work and perseverance, Luc was able to realize his dream of becoming an NHL player. Luc had a promising life and career ahead of him ..."
Indeed, it is tragic on so many levels.
Never say never, but it is looking highly unlikely that Mats Sundin will be back with the Maple Leafs next season -- if he plays at all. Yes, there is the matter of whom the next general manager will be, whether he in fact wants the captain back, and all of that. But even if Cliff Fletcher remains as general manager through the summer, or for another season, there are still no guarantees Sundin will return.
The reason is money.
If Sundin is looking for a significant salary increase, it makes absolutely no sense for a rebuilding Leafs team to sign him for a single season with a no-trade clause attached. The Leafs have long-term needs and many holes to fill. Put simply, at this stage in his career and with the Leafs "rebuilding," the money would be better spent in other ways.
That is, if the money is in the $7-million US range, or more, that many expect it will be.
THIS AND THAT
The NHL hasn't completely committed to the idea of playing an outdoor game in Wrigley Field in Chicago next season, likely on Jan. 1, with the Blackhawks playing host to the Detroit Red Wings. But that is likely to happen. Efforts are being exhausted to make it work at Yankee Stadium, but there are building issues linked to the winterization and ultimately the demolition of the ball park. Neither the Islanders nor the Devils are particularly pleased that the plans called for the Rangers to play the Boston Bruins, either. If the problems at Yankee Stadium can't get worked out, then Wrigley is choice No. 2 ... Rumours persist that when the sale of the Tampa Bay Lightning is approved by the NHL that John Tortorella will be out as coach and that former Los Angeles Kings coach Barry Melrose will be in, with a three-year contract. Know this, Tortorella, who has a year remaining on his contract, won't be unemployed for long ... There are a grand total of 15 players still in the NHL who played at least one game in 1980s. Two of them are involved in the Stanley Cup final -- Chris Chelios and Gary Roberts.