Boyd’s life celebrated at celebrity game

(Halifax, NS) — Through the fog of tragedy, it’s not often immediately clear what positives could come of it.

But 10 months after his sudden death in the unlikeliest of circumstances, Jordan Boyd’s family figured out a way to both celebrate his life and ensure that his passing was not in vain.

A celebration of his love of hockey was held in his name Saturday at Bedford’s BMO Centre, a stone’s throw from where he grew up.

“He’d think it’s pretty cool. He’d be pretty honoured, I can tell you right now. There’s nothing better, he loved hockey through and through and he’d think this was just something else,” said Jordan’s father, Stephen, outside the BMO Centre Saturday afternoon.

Jordan, 16, collapsed on the ice on Aug. 12, 2013, as he was trying out for Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s Acadie-Bathurst Titan.

Two months ago, his older brother, Greg Dobson, approached the family about a charity hockey tournament that would raise funds for the Heart and Stroke Foundation and the Jordan Boyd Leadership Award Fund.

And so, the inaugural Jordan Boyd Celebrity Hockey Challenge was born.

At least six teams took to the ice at the BMO Centre, with each team boasting the participation of one NHL or AHL player.

Colorado Avalanche forward Nathan MacKinnon, Boston Bruins forward Brad Marchand, and Andrew Bodnarchuk, a defenceman with the Manchester Monarchs, were among those who attended.

“It just seems like the hockey community is very close, very tight-knit, and everyone seems to pull together in situations like this. I think everyone just wants to show their support and their respect, that’s why everyone wants to be involved in this,” Marchand said in between games.

“It seems like everyone is trying to celebrate his life and not mourn the sad events,” he added. “So everyone is having fun, I mean everyone is having a great time, and a lot of talk about old times and things that we’ve all gone through. But for the most part everyone is just having a really good time and trying to enjoy the day.”

Brett Doiron played with Jordan during his senior year at Rothesay Netherwood in New Brunswick, and said he and his former classmates and friends jumped at the chance to participate in the tournament.

Doiron, who now plays for the Summerside Western Capitals in the Maritime Junior A Hockey League, said he hopes the event raises awareness over the importance of proper screening of cardiovascular health and access to defibrillator in arenas.

“Personally, I don’t think that they do enough to prevent that and look deep enough into it,” he said. “They just kind of assume if they’re training and healthy all summer, like Jordan was, he was in top physical condition going into training camp, as most are, and next thing you know he’s not here anymore, which is just sad and awful.”

The event raised more than $100,000, which would be evenly split between the Heart and Stroke Foundation and the Jordan Boyd Leadership Award Fund.

The support overwhelmed the family, Stephen Boyd said, especially given the relatively short amount of time they had to put the event together.

“Jordan was a wonderful young man, he had a lot of friends and he was very well liked by them, so I’m not surprised in a sense that we’ve seen this outpouring of support,” he said.

Following Jordan’s death, the entire family was screened for cardiovascular issues.

“I think it’s something that high performance athletes, or parents of high performance athletes may want to consider a little further,” Stephen said. “We certainly had no sense or any idea that there was anything wrong with Jordan that would have cause us to think anything like this would happen.”

Yet even in the wake of his son’s tragic death, not enough is being done across Canada, in small rinks and large, to improving access to a defibrillator and medical personnel, he said.

“Really what I’d like to see is more training and preparedness for events like this should they happen. They’re rare, I’ll concede that, they’re very rare, but they do happen from time to time.”

Now with the one-year anniversary of his son’s death fast approaching, the family is hoping to turn a tragedy into a triumph.

“Honestly, it’s just day by day,” Stephen said. “It’s very, very difficult on our family to move forward. We’re trying the best we can to respect and honour Jordan, and to get up every day and keep going.”

(Excerpted from Remo Zaccagna of the Halifax Chronicle Herald)