Highways ripped apart, homes flooded and power knocked out.
The west coast of the province, with Corner Brook being hit hard and Mayor Jim Parsons having to declare a state of emergency, took a beating last week after torrential rain pounded the region for a couple of days.
The weather was the topic of the day no matter where you went. A lot of people who have lived on the west coast most of their life will tell you they never seen such devastation in such a hurry.
While municipal and provincial employees were kept busy trying to clean up the mess, a group of devoted residents of the west coast were gearing up to host the 2018 Hockey Day in Canada — a national television broadcast that would showcase the western region to the province.
At a time when people were facing adversity, the timing of this event couldn’t have been better because spirits were a little on the downward spiral.
I had an inkling the mood was about to change after spending time with Ron MacLean when he arrived last Wednesday.
Ron told me during our one-on-one interview that Hockey Day in Canada is a special event because it has the power to provide a lift to the hosting community.
Ron, you were bang on again, old buddy.
Crews working to restore the highway in the Little Rapids area after the storm had to face long days, but they got a much-needed break when the Stanley Cup showed up and they got a chance to get to touch it and have their photo taken with it.
Lanny McDonald carrying the Stanley Cup around the confines of Mountainview Estates with residents decked out their hockey jerseys and slapping their sticks was a sight for sore eyes.
Chris Neil and Darcy Tucker playing on the same team in the NHL/Corner Brook Royals Alumni game, years after they had some heated battles on the ice on opposing sides, drove home the important message that it’s always best to leave the game on the ice.
People gushing at a chance to get an autograph from Don or Ron at the gala banquet was pretty amusing. They tried everything they could to get the attention of anybody who would get them near the dynamic duo.
The look on their face, one of them I thought for sure was going to have a heart attack because she was so overwhelmed to be next to Don, was simply priceless.
No worries, staking out the secure room they were holed up in until making an appearance at the gala, these people got the pictures and autographs they were desperately seeking.
Boys and girls got a chance to play hockey on the pond. They got to attend hockey clinics with some of their heroes like Wendel Clark and Tucker.
They were allowed to go out and have fun like the pros encourage them to do. A wonderful chance to meet other young players they probably wouldn’t have met if somebody didn’t care enough to bring something special to the community.
Friends reunited and new friendships formed through frozen water and a black disc.
Bruce Campbell, Brian Gruchy and Ralph (Shack) Dunne — all Corner Brook Royals from different eras — embracing and enjoying the common bond that still makes the heart pump a little faster even today.
A community banded together through a love for the game.
No longer was the conversation about the highway being torn up or the struggles people endured battling the savage storm.
It was a time to relax and savour the glorious past with hopes of greater things in the future.
The storm has settled. Our guests have gone back home. We can only hope they had as much fun as we had.
Thanks for the lift. We needed it and we appreciated it.