It is Tuesday and that means it is my day to write something in this space. I had some ideas. I had some thoughts. Normally I would want to write something fun (a look at some random memorabilia, or hockey cards, or the worst and most random autographed jersey in existence), or maybe even start previewing a play-in matchup against the Montreal Canadiens. The latter option is still an absolutely bizarre statement that I never imagined that I would have to write in this — or any — season, but ... 2020, ya know?
But given the state of the country right now it just does not feel right to do that. Or, at the very least, I just do not have the energy to do that. At least not this week. Not today, anyway. I am sorry for that, but also not sorry. These are positively exhausting times.
Instead, I just want to quickly focus on how lucky Pittsburgh looks to be for having Jason Zucker now living and playing within its city limits over the next few years.
Zucker came to Pittsburgh with a reputation for being a pillar in the community and a valuable person to have beyond the hockey rink. His charitable work in Minnesota with the Zucker Family Suite and Broadcast Studio at the University of Minnesota Children’s Hospital, as well as the #Give16 campaign, helped him win the King Clancy Award (player who best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice and who has made a significant humanitarian contribution to his community) during the 2018-19 season.
On Monday, while Penguins were one of the many teams across professional sports to release a carefully crafted PR statement that really didn’t say much of anything beyond the obvious, Zucker took the time to say something a little more substantial.
If you are offended by that statement, or have a problem with any of it, or simply think he should just “stick to sports,” then the problem rests with you; not Jason Zucker or what he had to say.
No, it does not fix everything. Maybe it does not even make a dent. But it is still a prominent NHL player using his voice and his platform to deliver the right message — a strong message — at a time when the country and league are fighting for racial equality. That is never a bad thing. That can not hurt. It will not make things worse. Even if it only makes things a small degree better ... that is still something.
I have nothing else really to add here, except to say that when the Penguins acquired Zucker from Minnesota just before the NHL trade deadline they appear to have picked up a quality first-line winger and an important member of the community.