The Toronto Maple Leafs, Ottawa Senators and Montreal Canadiens will join together Saturday night before their respective home games to pay tribute to Corporal Nathan Cirillo and Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent - the two members of the Canadian Forces who lost their lives in separate attacks this week.
The ceremonies will be staged simultaneously before puck drop at games at the Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa, the Bell Centre in Montreal and the Air Canada Centre in Toronto.
"As we continue to reflect on the tragic circumstances surrounding the deaths of two our country's soldiers on Canadian soil, we do so with heavy hearts" said Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk in a statement Friday. "But what doesn't break us, makes us stronger. Today our country stands more united than ever and so does the entire NHL family. We are very pleased to join forces with the Montreal Canadiens and the Toronto Maple Leafs in co-ordinating a unique and special tribute prior our game on Saturday in honour and recognition of these two brave soldiers, their families and all members of our Canadian military."
Warrant Officer Vincent was killed and another soldier was injured Monday in an apparently targeted hit and run in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que. Corporal Cirillo was shot and killed Wednesday morning as he stood guard over the National War Memorial in Ottawa.
The Maple Leafs were staying in Ottawa's Westin Hotel on Wednesday, close enough to hear the shots and see SWAT teams and dozens of cops gathered across the street. Assistant coach Steve Spott said he expects Saturday to be an emotional night in all three cities.
"We're hockey coaches and we're hockey players and what we do pales in comparison to what these people who serve in our military do every day," he said. "It's the proper thing to do and I'm sure everybody in our city and the cities that are going to be a part of this will feel the same way. It definitely puts a lot of things in perspective with regards to what we do for a living. We're an entertainment industry. What those guys do is not entertaining. They serve our country and give us the freedom to do what we do. We very much appreciate that."