Arizona Coyotes centerman Craig Cunningham is a natural born leader. As he fights for his life in a Tucson-area hospital while we gather with family around the dinner table, let’s all pause and give thanks for Craig’s courage and strength.
As Arizona Coyotes players and fans get together with family to celebrate this Thanksgiving holiday, now more than ever there’s reason to appreciate what we have.
We naturally lose sight of the very important things in our lives. One of them is health.
When Tucson Roadrunners captain Craig Cunningham suddenly collapsed on the ice during pre-game warmups this past Saturday night, it shocked us all.
Cunningham, a center who has played for the Arizona Coyotes organization since being claimed on waivers in March 2015, is a fan favorite.
A leader on and off the ice, Cunningham appeared in 19 games with the Coyotes in the 2014-15 season, and another 10 games last season.
This past June, he signed a one-year, two-way contract with the Coyotes.
He was leading the Roadrunners to a very successful 8-1-2 record this year.
So when Cunningham went down as the Roadrunners were preparing to play the Manitoba Moose, everyone was in shock. Fortunately, top-notch medical staff were right there and immediately jumped on to the ice to render aid.
The precise cause has not been disclosed. Chest compressions were seen being performed on Cunningham while still on the ice. This suggests some sort of sudden cardiac event, perhaps a heart attack.
He’s currently fighting for his life in a Tucson-area hospital. The Coyotes, and indeed the entire ice hockey community, are collectively pulling for the guy everyone seems to adore.
Support from players and fans from across the NHL has been pouring in.
On Twitter, the hashtag #CunnyCan has thousands of people sending their best wishes and statements of support.
Cunningham, or Cunny as his teammates and friends call him, has had an interesting career.
He was originally drafted in the fourth round by the Boston Bruins in the 2010 NHL draft at #97 overall.
Cunny spent several years playing for Boston’s AHL Providence Bruins. He scored over 20 goals in each of those three seasons.
He was called up by the Bruins for a couple of games during the 2013-14 season. Cunny played in 32 games in the NHL for Boston the following year. He scored his first NHL goal against the Ottawa Senators about one year after his first NHL appearance.
Cunny was placed on waivers by Boston late in the 2014-15 season, and that’s where the Arizona Coyotes picked him up.
He has primarily played for the Coyotes’ AHL affiliate Springfield Falcons. Last season he once again compiled over 20 goals and a similar number of assists.
The Coyotes purchased the team and moved it to Tucson during the offseason, and Cunny was named the team’s captain. Cunny’s full impact on the Coyotes won’t be known until he recovers and gets back on the ice to continue his promising career.
His play on the ice is only rivaled by the wealth of friends he has garnered off it.
Held in high esteem by players around the NHL, Cunny has made friends wherever he’s traveled throughout his career in the WHL, AHL and in the National Hockey League.
The Trail, British Columbia native is only 26 years old but appears to have acquired more friends than most people have in a lifetime.
Everyone has something good to say about Cunny.
Saturday night’s game in Tucson was postponed, as were the two Roadrunners’ games that were scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday of this week.