This post is slightly hockey-related. It's related in the fact that it's about a hockey fan. If you're looking for a strictly hockey story, I suggest you stop reading now.
Her name was Marushka. Well, that's the name she chose to use. I knew her real name once upon a time, but cannot recall it now. I met her at a fan board online at NHL.com about three years ago. I had joined NHL Connect looking for like-minded hockey fans after the Pens lost the Red Wings in the 2008 SCF. I joined an awesome little group of friends whose hockey allegiances ran wide and deep. Maru (known as "True Fan" at Connect) lived in San Antonio and loved the Dallas Stars. She was young, a college student and I grew to think of her by her avatar, a cute anime girl's face. A few girls in the group and I exchanged personal email addresses and cell phone numbers. Maru would text cute or inspirational messages, or just text to say "Hi, I hope you're having an awesome day!" We talked on the phone a few times, when she was facing a breast cancer scare. Her voice sounded like a young girl's and in some way, fit perfectly to the avatar she used as her profile picture.
Our happy little NHL Connect group splintered after more than a year spent in playful trash talk, epic blog posts, hockey limericks and one fantasy hockey league. When the break came, I found myself on one side of the disagreement, Maru ended up on the other side. She sent me a few emails after that but I did not respond, as I disagreed with her argument. And so, I released her and our budding friendship.
This morning, I received a message from another Connect friend, telling me that Maruschka had passed away. Not from breast cancer, but from a car accident in Italy over the weekend. My mind immediately flew back to those happy Connect days; to banter, laughter and silly limericks. And to a baby-voiced Stars fan from San Antonio who called herself Marushka. At this point, I can hear some of you wondering what disagreement could splinter a group that got along so well? I won't rehash the ugliness; it's in the past. All I can do is hope that Maru did not suffer... and pray that she's at peace.