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True North Strong and Free

On a day which saw a terror attack on Parliament Hill and at the National War Memorial, sports become secondary. Yet the healing power of the sport can help as a coping mechanism to move past such events.

Doug Pensinger

It is hard to imagine how playing a game could possibly take precedent over a terrorist act, such as the one that occurred this morning in Ottawa.

A Canadian soldier, 24-year old Corporal Nathan Cirillo of Hamilton, was killed in a terror attack at the National War Memorial in Canada's capital this morning, in an event that left Canadians from coast to coast saddened and angry.

In the midst of the confusion of the ongoing events, a debate began on social media on whether or not the game between the Ottawa Senators and Toronto Maple Leafs would happen. As was almost inevitable, it will not, as the NHL postponed the game.

I say it was inevitable, because there was little no no logical reason why this game would take place. Like many people in the city of Ottawa, the Toronto Maple Leafs found themselves in lockdown while the threat remained ongoing. Players and executives agreed that the safety and security of the people of Ottawa was far more important than a regular season game.

Dejan Kovacevic was on Hustler and Lawless earlier today, and spoke on how sports were used as a coping mechanism following the terrorist attacks of 9/11.

It is times like these that we see sports fans come together in solidarity, putting aside friendly rivalries and demonstrating true humanity. Teams with no bond to the situation often show their true class, such as this musical stick tap following the Boston Marathon bombings.

Like Cpl. Cirillo, I am a Primary Reserve soldier in the Canadian Armed Forces. I was rattled this morning by the news of the death of a second fellow soldier in the last few days, as never before have soldiers been targeted on Canadian soil. However, while rattled, it does not change my mindset on why I am a proud patriot and why I love the nation of Canada.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper had strong words in his statement tonight.

"We will not be intimidated. Canada will never be intimidated."

Winnipeg and True North Sports and Entertainment have strong ties to the military. I am confident that O Canada will be thunderous on Friday when the Jets host the Tampa Bay Lightning. Winnipeggers are a strong and resilient people, as are all Canadians, and if we can use sports to cope and grieve, then I think that's terrific. What happened is terrible, but it will not stop Canadians from being Canadian and enjoying one of the things that truly makes us who we are.

The Ottawa Senators will play again, and can and should be playing for more than just themselves when they play next. Somethings are bigger than the game, and I thank those around the hockey world that have expressed their support for Canada and Ottawa throughout the day, with an extra hard stick tap for the Pittsburgh Penguins organization.