CHAMPCAR/CART: Canucks' centreman mourns loss of a friend, Greg Moore

Canucks' centreman mourns loss of a friend Iain MacIntyre, Vancouver Sun There are things professional athletes surrender when they accept their astronomical salaries, chief among the right to let human instinct and emotion interfere with...

Canucks' centreman mourns loss of a friend

Iain MacIntyre, Vancouver Sun

There are things professional athletes surrender when they accept their astronomical salaries, chief among the right to let human instinct and emotion interfere with their work.

No one calls in sick when his child is ill. Birthdays and funerals are missed. All emotions - sadness, happiness, anger, worry - are channelled or suspended at game time as athletes trigger a mental on/off switch they long ago developed along with their physical skills.

And so it is that Vancouver Canuck Dave Scatchard, privately grieving the loss of his friend, Greg Moore, publicly will show up for work and play hard Friday against the Florida Panthers.

"I don't know how it will work; I'll try to use that emotion," Scatchard said Wednesday in a quiet interview after the Canucks' practised in Burnaby. "We're professional athletes. We go out and play. I don't know how we do it sometimes, but it's almost like you can't afford to think about anything else or you'll get hurt.

"I don't like thinking about it because I don't understand why bad things happen to good people."

Moore, the 24-year-old Indy car driver from Maple Ridge, was killed Sunday at a race in California.

Scatchard first heard the news Sunday afternoon at General Motors Place, where he and other players were participating in the annual Canucks' Family Carnival for charity.

Scatchard wept Monday as he watched a televised tribute to Moore, a life-long Canucks' fan who had met many of the Vancouver players. Although they were not especially close, Scatchard said he and Moore saw each other socially several times a year.

"I first met him when he came up to me in a restaurant and introduced himself," Scatchard said. "He said he really loved hockey and had been a Canucks' fan since he was a kid. We just started talking and ended up having dinner together. I got to know him pretty well."

Scatchard would invite Moore to hockey games and introduce him to teammates, while Moore always invited Scatchard to the Vancouver Molson Indy race.

They'd get together for meals or evenings out downtown, and often ran into each other at charity events.

Minnesota Vikings' punter Mitch Berger was a mutual friend. He and Scatchard had lunch together Tuesday and spent much of it talking about Moore.

"Greg was an extremely positive guy," Scatchard said. "He had a great attitude, a great outlook on life. He was so much fun to be around. I'm trying not to think about it too much but there are so many reminders out there, I can't get it out of my head.

"The other night I was watching the thing on TV. I was just sitting there and started crying. I think that was the first time it really hit me that I wasn't going to see him again, never be able to say hi and wish him good luck. It's a terrible thing that happened to a great young man."

Ironically, it is Scatchard's emotion and intensity - properly focussed - that Canuck coach Marc Crawford is counting on.

Crawford this week praised the physical play of Scatchard and bruising linemates Donald Brashear and Todd Bertuzzi in Saturday's 4-1 win against the Nashville Predators, saying the trio's abrasive work provided a boost for teammates.

"You can't help but have a great deal of sympathy and emotion going through you," Crawford said of Moore's death. "Life is something you deal with all your emotions. Unfortunately, or fortunately, to accomplish tasks you can't have random thoughts in your head. In sports, you're taught to focus. I think that's a skill athletes use to block out terrible thoughts."

Crawford said he never met Moore but has been "overwhelmed" by the outpouring of grief and support for the driver's family. The Canucks plan to mark Moore's death with a moment of silence before Friday's game against Pavel Bure and the Florida Panthers.

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Thanks to The Vancouver Sun for permission to reprint this story.

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Greg Moore