Wednesday, 21 February 2007

In Memory of Nicholas Lambden

From with files from the Canadian Press: Nicholas Lambden was playing hockey with his friends at an outdoor rink on Sunday when he was struck by a stray puck from another group of players.

Guelph police Sgt. Cate Welsh confirmed that Lambden was not wearing a helmet at the time.

The boy was revived at the scene by emergency personnel and then airlifted to Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children where he died on Monday.

"Nicholas touched many hearts with his passion for life, adventure and sports -- especially hockey," his father, Andrew Lambden, said through tears by telephone.

"Beautiful Nick is flying with angels. We love you forever and ever."

Guelph City councillor Bob Bell represents the ward where Lambden was killed and he says the incident reinforces the need for children to wear helmets while playing on ice.

"I think kids should wear helmets when they're playing hockey," he said. "Kids and parents need to associate helmets with skates as they associate helmets with bikes."

Funeral arrangements have not been made yet.

Published on Tuesday, Feb. 13 2007 at 11:19 PM ET.
From Guelph Just a few feet from flowers and other memorial items, a sign erected this week urges the community to continue using the outdoor rink where Nicholas Lambden recently sustained a fatal injury.

"The Lambden family hopes everyone continues to enjoy this park as Nicholas would have wanted," the blue and white sign reads. "Play safe. Have fun."

Andrew Lambden, the boy's father, said the sign was put up by a close friend after consultation with his family.

"We thought it was very kind they offered to do that because we want people to use (the rink) and have fun with it," Lambden said. "That's what Nick would have wanted."

The 10-year-old was hit in the head by a stray puck during a game of pickup hockey Feb. 11. He was airlifted to Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children and died the next day. Nicholas was not wearing a helmet at the time.

Lambden said his son loved spending time at the park and especially on the rink during the winter, and his family hopes the tragedy will not deter others from doing the same.

"We want to make sure the community continues to enjoy that wonderful park and that they think of Nick when they're there and that they play safe."

Lambden said his family is "coming along" as they deal with their terrible loss.

"It's the saddest thing in the world," he said quietly.

Published on February 21, 2007.
From columnist James Duthie: If you could watch one hockey player, past or present, play a game, who would it be?

Gretzky at 21? Orr with knees scar-free? The Rocket, at his angry, eyes blazing best? Crosby, right now?

I'm often asked that question. And I was never sure of the answer. Until now.

It is none of the above.

If I could watch one player lace up the skates and play a game, I would choose a skinny left-winger from Guelph, Ontario.

A player who moved so fast, they called him Wheels.

A terrific hockey mind who, by the age of 10, had already patented his own move: carrying the puck swiftly into the opposing zone, then spinning around and sending it back to his point man, leading to countless chances for his team.

A leader, so popular in the room, a former coach says when he walked in for practise, there would be a chorus of "Sit here! Sit next to me!"

A coach's dream, always shining his shoes to make sure he looked proper when he arrived at the rink. And so obsessed with being on time, he wore a digital watch with a face big enough to dwarf his little arms.

An offensive dynamo who scored 12 goals in one 7-game span this season, amazing considering he always preferred being a playmaker.

A natural athlete who was also a whiz at soccer, football, track, and pretty much everything he tried.

An always smiling charmer who, even when he tried to boast, couldn't help but turn it into a joke.

"I'm the best athlete in my school," he once said. "Then again, my school is really small."

A kid who lived and breathed hockey from the second he woke 'til the moment he hit the pillow, exhausted after playing hours a day.

But here's the rub.

This hockey player I'd love to see play again...

I never saw him play.

Everything I know about him comes from the stories I've been told over the past week by teammates, coaches, friends, and family.

His name was Nicholas Lambden.

Two Sundays ago, he was doing something every one of us who has played outdoor pick-up hockey has done hundreds of times: digging for a puck in the snow. A shot from a nearby game struck him in the head.

It was a freak, million to one accident. And it killed him.

Nick was 10 years-old.

10 years-old.

Last Friday, the Guelph Atom AA Junior Storm should have been excitedly preparing for the next round of their playoffs. Instead, they were walking up the aisle of a church, past the coffin with their teammate's #12 sweater draped over it, laying their sticks next to Nick's.

Later, they'd talk about how happy he'd been after scoring the tying goal late in what would be a thrilling OT win that past Saturday. His last game.

Nick loved hockey. Loved the Leafs. Worshipped Mats Sundin (Though Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin were right up there too).

He dreamed of being just like them. Of someday being talked about on TSN. Consider it done, Wheels.

I thank all of his friends for sharing their memories.

But each new gut-wrenching phone call, each heart-breaking email that pops up in the inbox, makes me wish I could have met Nick, and watched him play the game he loved so much.

And makes me curse the fact I never will.

Our thoughts remain with Nicholas's mother Susan, father Andrew, and sister Madison. This week Nick's team will resume their playoffs wearing black armbands with the #12 on them. They also hope to spread the message that everyone who plays outdoor hockey should always wear a helmet. Always.

Published on 2/20/2007 at 11:35:56 PM.
I didn't know Nicholas. I had never heard of him. But he will always be remembered. My thoughts and best wishes go out to his family, friends and teammates. Rest in peace, Nicholas. The pond will always be frozen in heaven for you. You'll always be the brightest star on the ice.

1 comment:

jack kowalski said...

When I heard the sorrowful news of the young player Kyle Fundytus, killed by a hockey puck, I immediately thought of Nicholas Lambden. No child or teen playing minor hockey should die in this sort of manner. No fan or family member should die at an arena without a safety net protecting the spectators. Every time I see a puck fly into the spectators, I say to myself that one day someone will be killed. The legacy of Nicholas and Kyle is to make our national game safer for everyone.
All kids should wear helmets indoors and out, and now all minor players should be required to wear a rigid neck protector like the goalie. The soft cloth blade protector has to go the way of the dodo. We can never eliminate all accidents but we can learn from past tragedies to make sure they don't happen again.