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Life Changing Canucks Moment Headed to the Big NHL Stage

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Vancouver Canucks, Brian Red Hamilton
Vancouver Canucks assistant equipment manager Brian "Red" Hamilton speaking to the media in January.

When it comes right down to what really matters, it was the biggest moment of the Vancouver Canucks season.

Seattle Kraken fan Nadia Popovici, a burgeoning medical student, spotted a dangerous mole on the neck of Vancouver Canucks assistant equipment manager Brian “Red” Hamilton while Red was working on the Canucks bench during the Kraken’s first ever regular season home game back in October. She was sitting along the glass behind the bench and demanded Hamilton’s attention.

It turns out the mole was cancerous and eventually could have been fatal. Hamilton had it removed and his life was saved.

That moment, and the meeting and the friendly and appreciative relationship that these two people and their families developed over time will be in the spotlight during the NHL Awards ceremony on June 21st.

Popovici and Hamilton will appear together to hand out one of the league’s awards.

Their story has been told around the world and has inspired people to take action, positive action, even when it may seem awkward or uncomfortable.

The incident is thick with irony, when ultimately thinking about the importance of Popovici’s action and the results.

First of all, busy on the bench, Hamilton’s attention was hard to come by. Secondly, when told about the mole, there was the initial, ‘Ok, whatever’ reaction. As in, ‘who is this gal and what is she talking about’.

As Hamilton told it back in January after the two were reunited at the Vancouver Canucks – Seattle Kraken game on New Year’s Day:

“I felt bad at the moment because I’m walking off the bench and she put her phone up to the glass and on the phone it said ‘the mole on the back of your neck is cancer’ and it threw me off,” Red said about the woman getting his attention. “I just kind of shrugged it off and kept going, and so my initial response when I found out (that it was cancerous), I felt bad because I felt like I really didn’t give her the time of day, so I’m excited that she knows because she needs to know.”

She knows. And now the hockey world will be reminded of one of the sport’s great moments from the 2021-’22 season, and ultimately one of its greatest incidents ever.

Shared again on the NHL’s big stage.

VHN Managing Editor Rob Simpson has been covering the NHL for three decades on live TV, radio, and as a journalist. He worked his first ever game getting postgame sound as a teenager; it was Vancouver vs. Detroit.

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