After being diagnosed with glioblastoma, a terminal brain cancer in December 2015, Tragically Hip frontman Gord Downie passed away Tuesday.
Downie announced in the spring of 2016 that he had undergone surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. The Hip already had a tour planned, and Downie planned to go through with it. Downie’s final performance was in August 2016 in the band’s hometown of Kingston, Ontario.
While the Hip was important to Canada being labeled as “Canada’s band,” they also held a very special place in Braden Holtby’s heart.
“Everyone knows the story in Canada,” Braden Holtby told Sportsnet in 2016 about Downie’s diagnosis. “It’s one of those things that has turned a positive from a negative. It’s pretty amazing kind of what Canadians do. I grew up and I can have vivid memories of listening to my first Hip songs. We even had a class in school, a little part of it that was based on (the song) ‘Wheat Kings’ – I mean you just remember it. It’s Canadian, it’s the Hip, and with me being a huge music lover (it made sense).
Holtby dedicated his World Cup of Hockey goalie mask to Downie and the Tragically Hip.
“This being the biggest stage for hockey and a lot of Gord’s songs have hockey in them,” Holtby continued. “I mean it ties the two in and I think it’ll be very good.”
After the tournament, Holtby auctioned off his mask to raise money for the Gord Downie Fund for Brain Cancer Research and the Gord Downie Secret Path Fund for Truth and Reconciliation. Holtby raised $21,650 (or $28,380.88 if you convert the US money into Canadian dollars).
“Like so many others, I have been truly inspired by the courage Gord Downie has shown, and I was very appreciative that he embraced the design of my Team Canada goalie mask,” Holtby said. “I am very proud to have been a part of supporting these two important funds in Mr. Downie’s honor, and I appreciate everyone’s help in making this auction a success.”
Holtby was able to meet Downie during the World Cup tournament.
RMNB reached out to the Capitals Wednesday asking for comment from Holtby. The goaltender will address Downie’s passing Thursday after practice.
The Tragically Hip mean more to Canada then any American could begin to understand. The Hip formed in the time that Canadian rock n’ roll emerged in the 1970s-80s, often rebelling against former musical standards. The Hip mapped the country throughout their lyrics, mentioned hockey, Tim Horton’s, famous places, anything that would make a Canadian feel connected without being too obvious about it.
If there’s a goal that everyone remembers
It was back in old seventy two
We all squeezed the stick and we all pulled the trigger
And all I remember is sitting beside you
The goal being referenced was Paul Henderson’s game-winning goal for Team Canada at the 1972 Summit Series against the Soviet Union.
As a country remembers Downie today, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted his condolences. Downie has a history with Trudeau, calling on him to address problems in Canada’s aboriginal communities during his last live concert.
There will never be another one like you, Gord. Rest in peace my friend.
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) October 18, 2017
As the Hip released their official statement this morning, they wrote that Downie spent his remaining days as he always had: making music and memories.
— The Tragically Hip (@thehipdotcom) October 18, 2017
Rest in peace, Gord.
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