It’s all too easy to scorn a player for a bad game, or worse yet, run a player out of town for a bad series or two.

But what often get overlooked are the personal lives of players, which can drastically affect their performances.

Take, for example, Carolina Hurricane forward Scott Walker, whose wife was diagnosed with cervical cancer. He went 13 playoff games without a goal before breaking the horrible news to the media.

Or how about Vancouver Canuck forward Taylor Pyatt, whose fiancé was killed tragically in a vehicle accident roughly one month ago. He didn’t even take the ice until midway through the second round of the playoffs.

And back further, Montreal Canadien forward Saku Koivu and Pittsburgh Penguin forward Mario Lemieux each battled cancer only to return to the game.

Entrenched in the spectacle of the Stanley Cup playoffs, it often can be difficult to remember that athletes are humans, just like the fans who support them.

In the end, though, hockey is just a game, and there are much more important things in this world and in one’s life than just a game.

But, in some cases, a game — just a game — can help a person to keep his/her mind off of the negatives.

In Walker’s situation, despite carrying such heavy emotional baggage, the veteran ended his 13-game playoff goalless drought with the timeliest goal to date: a Game Seven overtime winner.

And what a tribute that was to his wife.

We at Faceoff Factor wish Walker and his wife Julie the best of luck as they battle to what we hope is a full recovery in the coming weeks, months and years.