OTTAWA -- Being down 3-0 in a playoff series pales in comparison to saying goodbye to a close friend.
That was the reality of the moment for the Ottawa Senators on Monday, as hockey took a backseat while the club and its players attended a memorial service for assistant coach Mark Reeds, who died of cancer on the eve of the playoffs.
“Today is tough. I have a hard time with it, I know a lot of guys do,” Senators defenseman Marc Methot said Monday before the team took part in the service for Reeds.
"We were so used to having him. It just feels like yesterday he was behind the bench and screwing around on the ice with us. It’s tough."
Monday’s service was also meant as a celebration of life for the 55-year-old Reeds, a former NHL player and longtime assistant coach.
"This is going to be kind of the closing step to him being gone," Senators goalie Craig Anderson said. "It's a tough day for everybody. He will be missed, and there's a lot of heavy hearts around here."
It’s been a lot of emotion for the Senators to deal with, especially because you realize how popular Reeds was with the players.
"The real tough day is when we found out [he passed away]," winger Clarke MacArthur said. "This is nice to get together with the team to put everything to closure. It’s always hard. With Reeder, he was such a good guy in the room. With an assistant coach, you have that kind of friendship feel with him. So it’s sad. Just how quickly everything happened for him. It’s just so sad."
The closure, however, is a welcomed event.
"To be able to know that he's in a better place, and not suffering, is probably the biggest relief," Anderson said. "Because we saw how he was the last little bit, and that's not fun for anybody."
So Monday was important in many ways.
"It’s huge because when you lose a friend or somebody that you’re really close with, the first part from my point of view is there’s a mourning part, but then when you get over the mourning and you have the tears and you do the cleansing, you start the celebration of life, you start the good memories," Senators head coach Dave Cameron said.
"It’s going to give me an opportunity to tell the Reeds family how much I appreciated Mark and to tell some real nice, humorous stories that’s the real Mark Reeds.
"In our profession, especially if you’re an assistant coach, you don’t know us," Cameron said. "You see us on the bench, and the public sees us on the bench, and that’s just the way it is too, no fault of anybody. ... You don’t really know anybody until you spend some time with them. And so a lot of times the image that person portrays isn’t the true person, isn’t the whole picture. So we’re going to get to share that today with Mark’s family, who would know the true Mark, and I’m sure we’re going to have a ton of laughs. There will be a few tears too."
His void, however, has been felt every day.
"For sure, Reeder is not around," Methot said. "We’re used to having him around the room. It’s been tough. It was a shock for a lot of us. When we heard the news before the round. That’s part of life. These things happen sometimes. It’s extremely unfortunate it happened to a member of our family. We’re not going to forget about that man anytime soon."