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HOCKEY'S BACK! And it's helped Me. And you. and you over there.

Earlier today, Erin wrote about the players we're excited to see this year. Switching directions, here's another reason to be excited hockey's back: because it helps us as people with so many things.

Streeter Lecka

If you ever visit us over on Stanley Cup of Motor Oil, you're likely familiar with our friend Paul Wheeler, aka FourthLineWIng, who's written some really cool pieces for us over there. Today on twitter, he posted this:

He then summed up his post (which is well worth a read) thusly:

"Basically - it MASSIVELY pisses me off that hockey is only presented as "bad" for mental health. Yes, MH issues do hurt, but Rick Rypien and his bravery in fighting so hard was an inspiration to me even if his story ended badly. It told me I wasn't alone. It told me it was OK to hurt. And it, & hockey since-the friends I've made, experience of watching games...that gives me a reason to keep fighting my demons. It gives me a reason to do something I love for the joy of doing it. Even when I'm in a hole, hockey reminds me there's beauty on earth."

That's awesome. So we got to chatting and thinking about it - about hockey in the context of life in general - and for me, and Paul, and so many other people on "hockey twitter" and the hockey fandom at large, this sport has really given so much to so many. From helping people claw their way through mental illness issues, to forming friendships across continents, to encouraging people to travel and learn about other places, to forming bonds that didn't previously exist with family members - it's incredible.

For me personally, hockey got me out of a weird place after college. All my friends had moved away, I had a journalism degree and no ideas as to where I wanted to go with it, and I felt pretty lost. Hockey gave me a group of friends, a direction, and it's now pretty much responsible for getting me to where I am in life right now. My friends, my job, my hobbies, writing for SCoC, obviously - I wouldn't have any of it if not for the 2008-2009 Bruins. And that's pretty meaningful.

So the #HockeyHasHelpedMe hashtag was born, and it's still going. I encourage you all to check it out, but here's ten or so of the highlights that particularly resonated with me.

So yeah, maybe you don't twitter. Maybe 140 characters isn't enough. Talk about it in the comments. Our sport is almost back! Has hockey had a particularly awesome effect on your life?