As Tim Bozon walked along a carpet to centre ice for a ceremonial puck drop, within a day of having been released from hospital, the Kootenay Ice hockey player was welcomed back with a long sustained standing ovation from the more than 4000 people in Western Financial Place in Cranbrook.
Jaedon Descheneau, his friend and teammate posted on Twitter: "Unforgettable night watching Timmy walk onto the ice. Brought a tear to my eye knowing how far he came since that night. Love ya."
And Landon Cross, another team-mate also commented on Twitter: "Great moment ... in Kootenay with TimB94 standing at centre ice to a standing 'O. He certainly deserved it."
Tim sure did deserve the "standing 'O". On March 1 following a Western Hockey League game against the Saskatoon Blades in Saskatoon, Tim was admitted to Royal University Hospital and diagnosed with Neisseria meningitis, and shortly thereafter was placed in a medically induced coma.
His condition was listed as critical. However, nearing the end of March, doctors had slowly taken him out of the coma, and amazingly, some may say miraculously, Tim was on the road to recovery and on March 28 there he was back in Cranbrook for the ceremonial faceoff.
It took place at the sixth game of the WHL quarter-final playoff series between the Ice and the Calgary Hitmen with his team leading the series 3-2.
To see Tim at centre ice truly brought "a tear" to the eye of many more than his friend Jaedon. It was one of those occasions when time seems to stop for a moment, and for much more than a moment, when the full house crowd cheered and applauded this young man, just turned 20, whose first stop after being released from hospital was to return to his team.
Tim Bozon, in himself is a class act, but so were the hockey fans who showed their respect for him.
For a person like me who has spent more than half the winters of my life in hockey rinks as a player (very poor one), referee, coach, manager, sports writer, and play by play announcer and colour commentator, this scene was among the most emotional of them all.
But the class act continued. All the players of the Calgary Hitmen came onto the ice before the game got underway and shook Tim's hand and gave him a hug in another emotional moment.
At a press conference in Saskatoon before heading to Cranbrook, CTV News reported that Tim said,“I’m so grateful for knowing such great people,” Bozon said of all the support he received while in hospital. “It’s going to be exciting to leave the hospital and get back to Cranbrook and see my teammates. I think they miss me and I miss them.”
It was obvious his teammates missed him, and for good measure they won the series that night defeating the Hitmen 5-3.
At the end of the game, the Ice players gathered and held their sticks in the air as a salute to their teammate who had watched the game from a luxury suite.
Tim, a Montreal Canadiens draft pick, will continue his recuperation in France where his father Phillipe Bozon, a former National Hockey League player, and his mother live.
Now though, a major item remains to be resolved. News reports in media across Canada have raised the issue of Tim's medical and related expenses that may not be covered by insurance. The total is apparently more than $100,000.
For those who wish to contribute to the Tim Bozon Trust Fund, you may do so at any branch of the Bank of Montreal in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, according to a WHL news release. If that does not work for you, contact the Western Hockey League or Kootenay Ice Hockey Club in Cranbrook.
Some Cranbrook businesses are holding fund raisers to help.
After the game, Tim posted on Twitter: "Unforgettable night at the Ice game tonite. Thank you so much everyone for great support. Was good to see everyone. Great win."
For me, the best story I saw about Tim's ordeal was by TVA in French, and I leave you with one sentence from it: "À peine sorti de l’hôpital, Bozon a été présenté à la foule et a reçu une chaleureuse ovation pour la mise en jeu protocolaire."
Let's continue the "chaleurese ovation" for this young man whose first priority was to return to his team and say "au revoir" before heading off for rehabilitation, by making sure all bills are paid so there is no additional stress on Tim and his family. My email is email@example.com
A slightly different version appears on the Cranbrook Guardian http://livablecranbrook.blogspot.com