Emotionally charged or emotionally drained?
It's hard to say until the puck drops tonight how the Ottawa Senators will respond to a day filled with sorrow, to a day that must end for them with a hockey game.
The Senators were to have flown to Raleigh after playing Monday in Philadelphia. But a decision was made to return to Ottawa, where the team attended a Celebration of Life service today at Scotiabank Place to offer support to assistant coach Luke Richardson and his family.
Richardson's daughter, Daron, took her own life Saturday. Daron was 14 and her death was so shocking, so saddening. Sens captain Daniel Alfredsson told The Ottawa Citizen that the decision to return for the service today was "the right thing to do and something we wanted to do."
And so the Sens will fly into Raleigh this afternoon, head to the arena and play the Hurricanes.
"We're preparing that the significant challenge that they're going through can galvanize a team," a somber Canes coach Paul Maurice said. "I think it did for them in Boston the day of the news.
"Clearly, an incredibly difficult thing for a team to go through. But I don't think we can expect to see a team that's not closer together when they come to our building tonight."
The Canes will be trying to end a two-game losing streak and get back to .500 while the Sens (9-8-0) have lost two of three. Ottawa lost to Vancouver 6-2, beat the Bruins 2-0 on Saturday and then were beaten 5-1 by the Flyers, who put 46 shots on net.
Maurice said two straight days of practice had been beneficial for his team.
"It was the first back-to-back practices we've had in almost a month and a half where we could do some things and teach," Maurice said. "It's a great reminder for our players and for the coaches as well.
"You always want to make bigger steps. You want to look at two games, the Florida and Edmonton games, and feel like you're farther along in the teaching curve than you are. Then you get a little dose of reality that you do have to spend, especially this year, an awful long time on the foundation of the game.
"The young players that we have here are going to play for the Hurricanes for a long, long time, so it's important that we set that foundation and the style of game that we're going to draft to, that we will develop to, so we can be a very good team for a long time."