When Boston Bruins forward Riley Nash spoke to the press with a lump in his throat following the Bruins 4-3 OT loss to the Ottawa Senators in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the first thing the Hockey Night in Canada panel did was criticize his masculinity. I should be more specific, that’s the first thing analyst Nick Kypreos did.

Kypreos said,  “too much emotion from Nash in his post-game. I don’t wanna see it”. He then shook his head in discomfort when footage of Nash fighting back tears after the emotional loss replayed on television.  

I wasn’t at the post-game press conference, otherwise I would have asked Nash why he was tearing up.  But here is my absolutely wild guess at why the 27 year old who makes $1.15 mil a year shed some tears; because he cares about his team and wants to win a playoff hockey game.  Hey, maybe even win the Stanley Cup.

What makes me worried: here is a powerful media personality on national television sending a message to viewers, amongst them probably a lot of young hockey players, that crying after you lose a game that’s really important isn’t okay.  That it makes him uncomfortable.

In the second period, the Bruins were getting smoked, down 3-0. Then Boston clawed back to tie it up 3-3. Huge for playoff hockey, any hockey for that matter, to come back and even the score after a 3-goal deficit. 

In overtime, Nash and Senators forward Bobby Ryan were skirmishing in the corner. Nash punched Ryan in the face after Ryan elbowed him in the jaw.  A little tit for tat, but Nash got the penalty and was sent to the box. It just so happens that on the ensuing Senators powerplay, Ryan scored the game winning goal to give Ottawa a 2-1 series lead, IN THE NHL PLAYOFFS.

It’s easy to point the blame at Nash. Regardless if it’s his fault or not, he felt a lot of guilt, and maybe even responsibility for the loss. “I think it was pretty selfish of me, I can’t make that play", he said regarding his penalty, in the dressing room after the game. 

You know why sport is so epic? Because it’s full of raw emotion. You see players get heated, devastated, ecstatic, you name it, you see every emotion on the sentiment rainbow. Because that’s what sports is all about.

When I was a young athlete (9-13 yr range) I cried after losing, and I usually did it in a bathroom stall by myself, or in a back hall way so nobody would see. I guess I thought it made me seam weak. Probably exactly how Kypreos see’s it. Maybe I had heard somebody on TV say “don’t cry”. Who knows, I was embarrassed by my physical reaction to a loss.

When I went on to play Team Canada volleyball (age 23-26), there were a couple of practices and games where I was so frustrated that I wasn’t performing up to my standards, that I also cried. Again, I don’t know if more than a handful of my teammates saw this, because I tried to hide it. But I know for a fact so many of my teammates felt those exact same emotions their fair share of times.

I’m so happy Nash let his emotion show after that game, because I was too scared to do it in front of my teammates. Thank God I didn’t have national television at practice or scrumming me after a game.

But these athletes don’t get to hide, and so when that post-game locker room invasion does happen, and you see a glimpse into the purest athlete reaction, I think we should celebrate it and get excited.

I just pray some kid in rural Manitoba isn’t going to lace up his skates and when, after 60 mins of play, loses a game, thinks to himself, ‘I feel so shitty but I shouldn’t show that emotion’.  Making it “wrong” to cry and show emotion is going to affect his empathy. It’s going to affect how he see’s other kids or men or women cry.  He might even see a kid crying at school and think, “that’s too much emotion”, instead of going up to the guy in class and asking what’s wrong.

Don’t make crying a bad thing. It’s a human instinct. It’s the most raw reaction to a situation we’re invested in. It shows we care.


To see post-game video, click here: https://www.nhl.com/bruins/video/bruins-postgame-game-3/t-277437088/c-51523703