Nothing — certainly not the devastation of a loss in Game 7 — could have spoiled the day for Craig Anderson and the Ottawa Senators.
Meeting with the media two days after the Senators’ season ended in double overtime of the Eastern Conference Final versus the Pittsburgh Penguins, Anderson revealed that his wife Nicholle told him the morning before his start on Thursday that recent test results indicated that she’s winning her battle with cancer.
“As of right now everything is clean and we’ll just cross our fingers,” Anderson said on Saturday, according to Chris Stevenson of NHL.com. “We’ve got to do scans, I think, every three months. As of right now things are positive, but you’re not out of the woods yet until you get, I think, two years of cancer-free news.”
Nicholle was able to tell Craig that things were headed in the “right direction,” but needed to confirm the findings one day later because the scan detected activity on her cervical spine.
Thankfully, it was just a side effect to her radiation treatment, and was able to share this on her own personal blog:
Nothing better than hearing CANCER FREE two times! I will be continously monitored for the next couple of years with followed-up pet scans, ENT visits, and tests. We pray this beast doesn’t return.
I truly believe hockey helped me through all of this with the playoff run. I couldn’t have asked for a better year and memories. My advice to everyone, everyday we are given, we are blessed. Don’t put off what you can do today! Live life to the fullest because in a blink of an eye it can and will change.
Nicholle was diagnosed with a rare form of throat cancer in October, which meant that Craig would leave the Senators periodically during the season to be by her side. This included a two-month stretch beginning in December before returning to anchor Ottawa’s postseason drive.
But Anderson’s most memorable return came just days after initially leaving the team after learning of Nicholle’s diagnosis.
When Andrew Hammond suffered an injury, and the Senators were short on goalies, Nicholle urged Craig to return to the team to make a start in Edmonton. He ended up making 37 saves for the shutout, with the entire weight of the world on his shoulders.
He was overcome with emotion immediately after because, as he explained Saturday, the game was an escape for the Anderson family throughout the season.
“I was able to use hockey and use my teammates as a source to get away from personal life and have a three-hour moment of peace,” Anderson told Stevenson.
“When you’re on the ice, there’s nothing in the world but that puck and you’re competing. You’re at peace. You have nothing to worry about. That was the three hours that I had, and then you go back to life right after.”