NEWARK, NJ - FEBRUARY 26: Martin St. Louis #26 of the Tampa Bay Lightning scores his hattrick goal at 10:18 of the third period against the New Jersey Devils and is congratulated by Teddy Purcell #16 (L) and Steven Stamkos #91 (R) at the Prudential Center on February 26, 2012 in Newark, New Jersey. The Lightning defeated the Devils 4-3. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
I don't normally comment publicly about tragedies. And the fact that last night, during a showing of the latest Batman flick, a disturbed person thought it'd be a good idea to shoot a theater up...well, that's getting enough press as it is. I don't feel the need to comment on that here.
But, one of our own also died in that senseless tragedy. No, not a Lightning fan or a writer for Raw Charge. I mean one of us - a hockey fan, a blogger, and an aspiring journalist.
I didn't know Jessica "Redfield" Ghawi. I didn't follow her on Twitter, like so many other people that I follow did. I hadn't read her blog or seen a video of her before today. So, there's not much I can say about her other than my profoundest condolences to her family - and to everyone who was affected directly and their families as well.
I don't want to single her out as being the only person who was killed, because there were many others who died, and still a great many others who were wounded. So I don't want to discount their tragedies as well. They were just as significant to others as Jessica was to so many in the hockey world.
However, it's another summer, another offseason, and we've all lost one of our own again. Not a player or an entire team this time, of course. But every member of our hockey community is as precious to us, even if they're not as visible.
And that's what's special about hockey. Maybe it's because we're all madly devoted to the sport - before even our team affiliations - that so many of us know each other. And even if we don't, we know someone who knows them.
We're all interconnected these days - fans, writers, media, players, and teams - and Twitter has helped that along, of course, as has the rest of the internet. It's much easier to connect with others now than it ever has been. And in many ways, that's a good thing.
This is why so many people are writing about a woman who left us too soon, even if they'd never met her. She embodies all of us hockey fans, to some extent. We understand what her biggest passions in life were - especially bloggers, reporters, and the media - to write and to be a part of hockey.
I just want to say that I appreciate each and every one of you who stop by and read this blog. It started out as just John and me, and we've added and lost writers along the way. They're all good people, and I want to thank them for helping us out.
But we've also grown this site into a community of Lightning fans; our connections to each other started out as nothing more than a shared passion for a single sport and a team. We're often wildly different from each other, and we don't always agree, but we can overlook that because it's hockey. It's something a lot of people take for granted, but I'm thankful for it every day.
So, thank you. Thank you for being a part of my life, even if it's just virtually. The team, the coaches, and the players are an important piece to all of this, but never forget that we're all a part of one big hockey family - and that's definitely including my fellow fans.
As the legendary Fred Shero reportedly once said, "We know that hockey is where we live, where we can best overcome pain. Life is just a place where we spend time between games."