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Because 2022 will suck soon enough, let’s start with a story with what seems to be a perfectly happy ending. If this doesn’t work for you, Comrade Petchesky’s seasonal tours of our less utilitarian apertures are always there for a re-read, and Comrade Burneko’s analysis of marriage in this Century Of Shit seems an ideal scold.

Here, though, it’s all melted hearts and caramel drops, as the Seattle Kraken gave us the first indisputably good reason for their existence. More precisely, they gave Nadia Popovici’s sharp eye to Brian “Red” Hamilton.

Hamilton is the assistant equipment manager for the Vancouver Canucks, an assistant equipment manager like any other—carrying sticks here, laundering uniforms there, making the lives of the players for the NHL’s 18th-best team a bit less chore-burdened. He is also a Red like any other, profoundly ginger, a salient point as will soon be revealed. Popovici’s family has sweetly located Kraken season tickets right behind the visiting bench, presumably to pound on the glass and mock the opponents’ players as any good fan would.

Only on Oct. 23, Popovici knocked on the glass to get Hamilton’s attention by holding a text message on her phone that informed him there was a mole on his neck, said mole might be a sign of something bad, and he should get it checked. He did, it was (a second-stage malignant melanoma, as it turned out), doctors removed it, and Hamilton’s life was saved.

Hamilton admitted that he big-timed the message at first, as club functionaries typically do. “I will thank her for being persistent,” he said in Saturday’s pregame presser. “She really went over the top to get my attention. It’s not easy. There’s a lot going on, people are asking for things or people are saying things that you don’t like, you just want to get off the bench, and she was so persistent, and I just want her to know that her persistence was what saved my life.”

The Canucks sought out Popovici, though they didn’t know who she was or how to find her. Popovici’s mom YukYung Nelson, an avowed Canucks fan before she adopted the Kraken and became (swear to the pixies) a member of Ladies Of The Kraken, saw it, and reached out to the Canucks to say, with copious exclamation points, that her daughter was the amateur physician on call. To give this Lifetime movie another plot point, Popovici was unaware that any of this was happening because she was sleeping in Saturday after working an all-night shift at a suicide hotline. Because of course she was. She probably also runs donated organs into snowbound hospitals and makes food deliveries to the indigent when she gets bored. [Ed. note: She actually was doing food deliveries in April 2020.]

Anyway, Nelson reached out to the Canucks, who arranged a more meaningful-than-usual pregame meet/greet/hug-it-out with Hamilton and Popovici before Saturday’s game between the two teams. He gets to spend his lengthened lifetime with his wife and kids, she’s going to medical school next fall, the Canucks and Kraken give her 10 grand for tuition (frankly, if I were a billionaire team owner, I’d have thrown an extra couple of zeroes on that bad boy because sometimes you actually can and even should buy goodwill), and in the end Popovici is caught on camera flying the middle fingers and yelling “YOU SUCK!” at Tanner Pearson for fighting Carson Soucy in the first period of a 5-2 ‘Nucks win.

OK, we made that last part up, if only to prevent you from catching emotional diabetes. But in case you think this is the thin edge of the wedge that Defector is philosophically softening, remember that this happened on Jan. 1, and that the rest of the year will be indisputably worse. I mean, it almost has to be, doesn’t it?

H/t to E.J.