In the early parts of November, the Oilers/Barons contingent of hockey fans were solely focused on what was to be a dominate AHL farm team. No NHL meant that the A team came to the B team for a memorable season (eventually half-season) where Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and Justin Schultz performed feats of size and strength. But things took a human interest turn when it was announced that Brandon Davidson was diagnosed with testicular cancer (strangely enough on the first day of the team’s promotion of Movember, for men’s health).
The world of hockey faded away, and suddenly this moment trumped all others, as it should have. Yet Davidson’s determination, along with his family’s, forever won the hearts of Oilers nation from Oklahoma City and beyond. His situation was real. It was important. It was critical.
Davidson entered treatment, and that would have been fine enough. Instead he overcame the cancer, hit his target return date of early February, and has since put the disease in his rear-view mirror.
It’s a touching story because it hits home for a lot of people. Overcoming an huge obstacle in the physical realm takes an equal beating on the mental realm. But the laser sharp forcus of Brandon Davidson made this the most important story of the year in the entire AHL.
The American Hockey League has chosen to honor Brandon Davidson with the Fred T. Hunter Memorial Award which is given annually to a player who exemplifies sportsmanship, integrity, dedication, and determination. This is an award given to Davidson by his teammates, by foes, by coaches, by media, and by management – the process always seemed to point to Davidson’s enduring attitude of confidence.
“Basically it’s just one round,” Davidson said. “It’s a reassurance that it won’t come back so we can put this thing to rest and get back to hockey. It wasn’t an easy decision to make. Basically this was the best opportunity for me to put this thing to sleep and move on.”
His teammates supported him by shaving their heads. This act of solidarity meant the world to Brandon:
“He’s not only my teammate he’s my roommate,” said Taylor Fedun, a teammate who shaved his head. “He’s had a great attitude all along. I wanted to let him know he has my support.
And through it all, Davidson was a true champion of the fans – giving back his emotional thanks for those that cheered him on. His valiant efforts, both on and off the ice, have placed Davidson among the tops in the league in important narratives of the seasons. But it’s not the disease that defined him, but rather his staunch admiration for killing it off. I’m proud to have known him, and anxious to watch him grow as a player and as an all around inspirational young man.