Lady Byng Offers Hope For Hockey

By Neil Earle

The Vegas Golden Knights hosted Christina Haugan and her two sons for Game 3 of the Western Conference final. Christina's husband Darcy, the coach and general manager of the Humboldt Broncos, was one of 16 killed in an April 6 bus crash.

As the bone-crunching Stanley Cup finals keep crashing along here’s an award that offers lessons for all of us.

As the NHL season winds down there are three finalists for the Lady Byng Trophy. That’s the award given to the NHL player who best combines skilful lay with sportsmanlike conduct. Down here in the land of magnolias and peach trees most people think of ice hockey as people slamming into boards, bodies flying, full-bore temper tantrums and sticks swinging (well, the last is very rare – stick swinging is the equivalent of hitting someone below the belt).

It’s been said that Canada – shaper of the modern game – has never had a civil war because, after hockey, most Canadians would find it dull.

Last week the high-flying Las Vegas Golden Knights took time out of their busy semi-finals with the Winnipeg Jets to fly the widow of the Humboldt, Saskatchewan Broncos coach down to Vegas with her two sons. The Broncos hockey team was virtually wiped out after a terrible accident back in Canada, a tragedy that captured the heart of the hockey world.

Knightly Gesture

The Knights’ gesture was another reminder that sports can bring us together and reflects the embedded lesson in the Lady Byng trophy. The point being that if even professional big-league hockey can display an award for courtesy and civility and gentlemanly conduct, then all is not lost in the popular sports culture.

It can also remind us that the spirit of Romans 12:18 can transcend church pews and Sunday services. That verse reads, “If it as possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.

Of course, peace is more than the absence of strife. Peace is not just passive doing nothing as the skill of these Lady Byng winner make clear. Lady Byng winners score and shoot and push as hard as anyone. Stan Mikita, the gifted sniper for the 1960s Chicago Black Hawks, was a winner, as was Paul Kariya the speedy lamp-lighter for the Anaheim Ducks. The Lady Byng award was named after the wife of one of Canada’s Governor Generals Lord Byng who represented the Queen in Canada, as the Governors still do.

Being a man or woman of peaceful disposition doesn’t mean to be passive and mellow at all times. The activist side of peace-making can be shown as showing appreciation for those people on the job, at home, in the church or community who make our lives a little easier.

The next time we feel life has handed us an unfair body check or we feel slammed up against the boards or suffer an unfair slash or hack, let’s remember the spirit of the Lady Byng. “Do not repay anyone evil for evil,” it says in Romans 12, “Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good.”

Truth is, Christians are nominated for even a higher award than the Lady Byng. It will come from the hands of One who says, “Well-done good and faithful servant. Here’s your crown.” Think of it.