My first instinct when I read this headline was, “Wow, that must have been a disturbed family to have something that bad happen.” I wondered what the parents had done to drive Adam Sapikowski to do such a thing. Then the name seemed familiar. I couldn’t remember where I’d seen it before. Then I saw it. Sapikowski was from the back of a hockey jersey.
I knew Jim Sapikowski. I played hockey with him on Fridays at the Sportsplex Arena. It’s uncommon for me to remember someone’s last name in this context. I’ve been playing every Friday with guys for over five years: I know their first names, but we all have the same last name: John Hockey, Richard Hockey, TJ Hockey, etc…
But you didn’t forget a name like Sapikowski. Plus, Jim had it written in big letters across his broad shoulders.
If Jim’s home was troubled, I never would have guessed it. Jim was a lovely, friendly guy. With most guys, I don’t know much about their lives beyond hockey, but Jim was different. First, we had some things in common. He had a daughter who he adored who was involved in acting, so we used to talk a lot about theater. Also, for a time he was considering sending his daughter to McGill university in Montreal, so we talked a lot about Canada and Quebec.
I was also envious of Jim. He had one of these hockey packages where he’d receive every single NHL game on television. He knew I liked the Montreal Canadiens, and every Friday he’d come in and give me a play-by-play update of how the Habs had faired that week. He liked making people happy; he was that kind of guy. I remember on the ice, he would always compliment me on a good play:
“that was a great goal”, he’d say, or, “Wow, you really played some good “D” on me on that play.”
Jim traveled a lot. He was always off to Colorado, or somewhere else out west. He had season tickets for the Hurricanes (nice seats) – if he was on the road, Jim was generous to offer them to me.
For the past four months I hadn’t been playing hockey much (I lost a bit of interest with the strike). But on Friday (Friday the 13th, when I was feeling down about my sister) I decided to go back.
It was great to be back. I missed all the guys. I felt really comfortable on the ice. But Jim wasn’t there. I didn’t think much about it – he was often not there, busy with his company. I never would have dreamed he was dead.
Goodbye, Big Man… We will miss you.