Life goes on for Canucks' Taylor Pyatt
CHICAGO - Life goes on. Everybody who has lost someone knows that. And most people don't want to hear that until they can actually say it themselves.
For the first few days after the death of his fiancee Carly Bragnalo, Taylor Pyatt wasn't having much success telling himself that he had to get back to life - his life in hockey or life with his team in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
"For the first few days I wasn't sure if I'd get back on skates this season," said the left winger from Thunder Bay who played his first game here Tuesday night and used his six-foot-four frame to play a physical game and help the Vancouver Canucks to a 3-1 win over the Chicago Blackhawks.
Pyatt was able to finally face the media after practice here yesterday and talk about getting on with his life, with the game and with the Canucks who take a 2-1 series lead into Game 4 here tonight.
The night before, with his teammates' encouragement, Pyatt tried to stand in and answer a few media questions but didn't manage to make it very far before his emotions got the best of him and he was forced to turn away and step around the corner, behind a dressing room curtain.
Yesterday, he sat in his dressing room stall and in a very quiet voice, not much above a whisper, dealt with questions.
He said he's back to play the rest of the way for the woman he was to be wed this summer and that he's dedicated his Stanley Cup playoffs to her.
"Every time I go out on the ice, that's who I'm playing for. Absolutely," he said.
But it took a while - an entire month - to get to the time and place where he could get to this point.
"As time sort of passed by, after a couple weeks passed by, I felt the urge to get back to Vancouver, back around the team and back on the ice.
"Being back here among the guys is the best therapy I guess I could have had. My family has been so supportive. All my friends have been so supportive. My mother has been in Vancouver for the last few weeks. My brother as well. I'm just trying to get through day-to-day life again. But being with the guys has been the best therapy of all.
"It's the toughest thing you can ever go through, losing a loved one, and the guys have been so supportive. It really helped me through a tremendously tough time."
Some people in situations like this almost have to force themselves to get back to what they do to give themselves purpose. Others have to take the time.
"It's been very tough for me," said Pyatt.
"I still wasn't quite sure mentally if I was going to be OK until a few days ago (when) I was able to get back on the ice. After I got a few shifts under my belt, I felt pretty good. I felt the time was right, that I was ready to step in. There was never any pressure from the coaching staff that I had to play."
Coach Alain Vigneault, who said he talked to Pyatt every second day all the way, said he never went to Pyatt when the time came. He just knew that Demitra wasn't going to play and that it was time.
"That's pretty much how it unfolded. We had an injury in Game 2. There was a spot there," said Pyatt of replacing the injured and highly ineffective Demitra.
"Rick Bowness asked me before the game if I was ready. I said 'yeah.' It went from there," Pyatt said of the assistant coach.
"With all the nerves, all the emotions, I just tried to get a quick couple of shifts and get involved physically. It was nice to be able to step back into the lineup and be playing a hockey game. I was really nervous before the game and dealing with a lot of emotions. It felt good to get those first couple shifts in and get a big win for us."
Several members of the team were emotional talking about having Pyatt back after the game and perhaps it provided a focus for everybody.
"Without a doubt it was very emotional for us," said Vigneault. "I don't think anyone in our group can imagine or put into words what Taylor had to go through. For him to come back and leave his family to come back to his extended family and want to be part of this, I think meant a lot to all the players.
"It was important for him to get back here, get his life back and move forward. I'm really proud of the young man."
So, you have to believe, would be Carly