It has been a difficult 24 hours for Martin St. Louis. Upon landing in Pittsburgh Thursday in preparation for Game 5 between his New York Rangers and the Pittsburgh Penguins, St. Louis learned his 63-year-old mother passed away that afternoon. He traveled back to Montreal to be with his family, but upon a conversation with his father, he decided to return to Pittsburgh and play in Game 5 Friday night.
It's a potential elimination game for the Rangers as they trail the Penguins 3-1 in the second-round series between the two clubs.
Prior to this game in which the stakes are incredibly high, there was a touching moment in the hallway. While St. Louis was warming up on a stationary bike by himself, Penguins captain Sidney Crosby came around a corner. The two were teammates on Canada's Olympic team earlier this year and Crosby stated earlier Friday that he was thinking of his fellow Olympian in what must be an incredibly difficult situation.
The two who would be combatants in mere hours shared a few words and a hand shake. It's simple, but a great act of sportsmanship and humanity prior to what can sometimes be an inhumane postseason. The smile on St. Louis' face showed it meant a lot to him as well.
Each player's pregame ritual is different. Some don't even want to talk to their own teammates let alone anyone from the other team, but when a fellow hockey player or human being is going through a tough time, the unwritten rules can be bent.
It's great to see a player like Crosby take that time to say a few words to a friend who is hurting. When the puck drops, they'll go back to combatants, but for that brief moment, they weren't Rangers and Penguins, they were just people.
This is something most people would do for someone having a rough time. For whatever reason, when these moments are framed around sports and particularly when it involves opponents it still kind of seems like a surprise. It's a simple act, but it remains a heart-warming one.