When the entire city was evacuated due to the raging wildfires near Fort McMurray, thousands lost everything they owned. Homes, cars, personal belongings, and almost everything else went up in flames.
This was the case for a particular Fort McMurray resident, Brad Thistle. Brad is a huge Habs fans, and like most in the city he lost his home, along with all his Montreal Canadiens memorabilia that resided in his basement. It's worth noting that Brad had a rather large collection.
Brad was unable to head home before the fires engulfed the city, but thanks to some quick thinking he managed to lead family and friends out of the city and towards safety.
It goes to show how resilient the Fort McMurray residents truly are. Not a single life was lost in the veritable inferno, and that can be attributed to the makeup of the population. Many have safety training, and as a result they knew how to respond to an emergency in a calm manner.
With his friends and family safe, Brad's thoughts turned towards his lost possessions. He had recently acquired his prized possession, a Jean Beliveau autograph, as well as a plethora of Habs themed merchandise.
Fortunately, his sister came to the rescue. She shared some of the pictures of his lost Habs gear with the Montreal Canadiens, and they responded with class.
Shortly after the Canadiens received the news, they sent out a personalized signed picture of one of Brad's favourite players, P.K. Subban:
I've learned that you are going through a difficult time right now, and I wanted to offer you my support. I know we don't always have answers for why these things happen, but I want you to know that my thoughts are with you.
I was told you are a big fan of the Montreal Canadiens! I wanted to thank you for being a faithful supporter of our team for all these years. I was very happy to find out that I'm one of your favourite players.
Keep cheering us on!
In a move reminiscent of Jean Beliveau's affinity to take time for all the fans, Subban was quick to remind one of his biggest fans that he's got the support of a superstar.
"When I first read the letter I sat there and cried." explained Thistle. "P.K. Subban is such a good human being, and the Canadiens are such a great organization. It means a lot to know that they care, especially in times like these. They're an inspiration."
He acknowledged that he has a long road ahead of him, but at the very least he has a good building block to rebuild his Habs memorabilia collection.
It just goes to show, a nice gesture, no matter how simple it is, can put a smile on the faces of those who need it the most.
Brad is keeping his spirits up, despite the tough circumstances. "I hope to get back to Montreal one day. I went last year to a game, and it was an amazing feeling. I took almost 900 pictures of the city, which I have now lost. I even caught a puck at a game, but that was lost in the fire as well. There's a certain energy throughout Montreal on game day. It's amazing. The people are amazing, and I plan to return one day if I can, but for now we have to take care of things here."
Of course, what's most important isn't sports items, but it's definitely a welcomed distraction at this point. There's a lot of rebuilding needed in Fort McMurray and the surrounding areas. If you wish to donate to the Red Cross, you can do so by clicking here.
If you're interested in helping Brad rebuild his collection, send us a message HabsEyesOnThePrize@gmail.com