Life is fragile.

We are sadly reminded of that far too often, though typically that news is packaged in the first couple of sections of the newspaper, on news-based websites or in the A-block of the local television newscasts.

Sports, for most people, are an escape; a way to forget the problems of the world and enjoy the most basic form of entertainment — interpersonal competition.

Monday, the hockey community received a jolt of sobering reality when 16-year-old hockey prospect Jordan Boyd, a tryout candidate with the Acadie-Bathurst Titan of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, dropped to the ice on the first day of training camp.

According to the subsequent news release, Boyd, a fourth-round draft pick in this summer’s QMJHL entry draft, was skating during an individual training session with the Titan when he suddenly collapsed on the ice.

“The Titan medical team tried to revive him several times. He was transported to hospital where his death was confirmed,” the release continued.

Sixteen. Years. Old.

For eight seasons, the Lewiston Maineiacs skated in the QMJHL. Players as young as 15 (as long as their 16th birthday fell before the end of the calendar year) and as old as 20 zipped up and down the ice at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston. Eight times, the team held a training camp just like the one held in Bathurst beginning this week. Eight times, players battled for positions on a team in a league that is among the world’s best.

We were lucky.

For nearly 10 years, we witnessed some of the best hockey players in the world skate up and down the ice right here in Maine, either skating for an opponent or for the home team.

We also formed a bond with an extended hockey family that will never be broken.

The sport lends itself to familial relationships. That bond is stronger in the junior hockey model, where families often entrust the care of their children to strangers as the players chase the dream of playing professional hockey.

The players themselves form bonds of friendship and camaraderie that is as strong as any bond formed in any other team sport. The sport is a fraternity. Equipment managers, athletic therapists, coaches, players, front-office personnel, it doesn’t matter.

Two years ago, the QMJHL and the Lewiston Maineiacs parted ways. The team, in financial trouble, ceased to exist. The league acquired the beleaguered franchise and dispersed the players, severing ties to a community that had been a part of its fabric for eight seasons, and to a community with arguably as many or more ancestral ties to the Province of Quebec than any other in the Northeast.

But the bonds of family did not break.

Hockey fans from Lewiston-Auburn followed intently as several former Lewiston skaters and an administrator went on to win junior hockey’s Holy Grail, the Memorial Cup, with the Shawinigan Cataractes. They followed along as, another year later, a former goalie played for that same Memorial Cup with a team from the Western Hockey League. They continued to follow former players as they hoisted professional hockey’s ultimate prize, the Stanley Cup, with the Los Angeles Kings.

And, yes, it’s hard to find a hockey fan in the area who doesn’t have a “remember when” story of Sidney Crosby’s visits to the community as a 16-year-old prodigy with the Rimouski Oceanic, or of Kris Letang’s noble effort as a defenseman with Val d’Or in 2007.

There is a sense of pride in Lewiston-Auburn’s hockey community that these players, these superstar athletes, and all the others who skated with them, once called the Colisee and the QMJHL home.

That connection is why, though two years (and counting) removed from immediate association with the QMJHL and its teams, the Lewiston-Auburn hockey community mourns this week. We mourn for Jordan Boyd, for his family and for his friends. We mourn for the Acadie-Bathurst Titan, and for the QMJHL.

We mourn because we are family, hockey-blood-relatives who know firsthand the hours of hard work and sweat equity that had already gone into this young man’s career, just for the chance to be drafted in the fourth round of the QMJHL draft, just to have a chance to skate in this week’s tryout.

We mourn because this could have happened here, and we know it.

The family has been scarred.

But like any hockey player worth their weight in stick tape, this family will pick itself up off the ice, brush the shavings from its jersey, adjust its helmet, dig in and continue skating forward.

Life is fragile.

But hockey’s familial bonds are unbreakable.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: