We have been through this before.
Well, maybe not we, unless you are a centenarian. And maybe not this, unless you happened to be following the 1919 Stanley Cup finals. But as the impact of a coronavirus outbreak became clear on Wednesday, perhaps the only solace was to think that we have been through this before and managed to come out the other side.
Like in 1919. That is when the Seattle Metropolitans of the Pacific Coast Hockey Association (yes, Seattle had a big-time hockey team that even won the Stanley Cup in 1917) played the Montreal Canadiens of the National Hockey League for the greatest trophy in all of sports.
All games in the best-of-five series were scheduled for Seattle, which happened to be engulfed in the influenza pandemic that swept the globe in 1918 and 1919. Game 4 was declared a tie after two overtimes, and through five games the series was tied 2-2-1. But the series was called off after several players were hospitalized because of the flu, and Montreal great Joe Hall died a few days later.
Kevin Ticen, who wrote a book about the series, recently told The Seattle Times: “They cancelled the last game because they didn’t want people in that close proximity. The players also all shared the same water, so they worried that they were contaminated.”
All of this came to mind Wednesday, with perhaps the most extraordinary news day since 9/11. No, that’s not comparing the coronavirus to 9/11; it’s comparing it to every day since then. And for a news junkie, Wednesday was compelling.