Story of The New Year: Vancouver Canucks Assistant Equipment Manager Seeks, Finds Seattle Kraken Fan Who Alerted Him to Cancerous Mole

While the Year 2022 is not even one day old, the hockey world produced perhaps the story of the year so far. On Saturday, the Vancouver Canucks took to social media on behalf of Assistant Equipment Manager Brian “Red” Hamilton, who asked for help in locating a fan who changed his life forever.

In a statement produced by the Canucks’ media team, Hamilton explained that during the Canucks’ visit to the Seattle Kraken’s Climate Pledge Arena on October 23, 2021, a fan seated behind the Canucks’ bench alerted him to a mole on the back of his neck, warning him that it was melanoma, a serious skin cancer.

The Kraken took part in the effort to find the amazing fan, asking for their followers’ help in locating and identifying the woman. In less than two hours, the combined efforts of thousands of fans and the two teams managed to find Nadia Popivici, a pending medical student who graduated from the University of Washington in 2019 according to the Seattle Times.

“I’m thrilled”, said Hamilton in a press conference, “I wanted her to know. I knew because of her but I really wanted her to know her persistence and everything she did was taken seriously. I felt bad at the moment because as I’m walking off the bench and she put her phone up to the glass and on the phone it said ‘the mole on the back of your neck is cancer’ and it threw me off so I kind of just shrugged and kept going…I’m excited that she knows because she needs to know”.

Hamilton was not aware of the mole’s presence on the back of his neck and when consulting team and outside doctors, the concerned response confirmed the warning.

“When I started asking people, doctors with the team, they didn’t like the looks of it either and I got scared right off the hop and in the back of my mind I knew she was right. It was malignant melanoma in site 2, which means it was only on the outer layer of my skin, so it hadn’t penetrated to the second layer of my skin. And that’s because we caught it so early, it was relatively new. When the doc called me and said ‘I’m going to diagnose you with cancer and cure you of cancer’ in the same phone call, it’s a pretty surreal phone call”.

Popovici, who worked a suicide prevention hotline over New Year’s Eve, was asleep at the time social media was abuzz searching for her, had a profound impact on Hamilton’s life.

“She extended my life”, said Hamilton when asked how the moment changed his life, “I’ve got a wonderful family, I’ve got a wonderful daughter. She saved my life, she didn’t take me out of a burning car like the big stories, but she took me out of a slow fire. The words out of the doctor’s mouth were that if I ignored that for four or five years, I wouldn’t be here. How she saw it boggles my mind, it wasn’t very big, I wear a jacket, I wear a radio on the back of my jacket so the chords are there. She’s a hero”.

Popivici will be attending the Canucks’ game against the Kraken tonight, will likely meet Hamilton, who was asked what he might say if that comes to fruition.

“Well thank you”, he said with a touch of emotion, “And my mom wants her to know that she loves her. I will thank her for being persistent. 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 just want to get off the bench, and I want her to know if I get the opportunity to meet her tonight, which I really hope I do, I want her to know her persistence is what saved my life”.

Hamilton said he hopes that the letter will encourage people to get screened regularly and hopes that Popovici will be the focus of the story given her efforts in helping him. “She’s a hero”.

During the game, the Canucks and Kraken presented Nadia with $10,000 towards her medical school expenses as a result of her heroism.

More Reading:

Kraken Fan Nadia Popovici Lauded For Pointing Out Canucks Equipment Manager Brian Hamilton’s Cancerous Mole During Game

About Michael Fleetwood

Michael Fleetwood was born into a family of diehard Capitals fans and has been watching games as long as he can remember. He was born the year the Capitals went to their first Stanley Cup Final, and is a diehard Caps fan, the owner of the very FIRST Joe Beninati jersey and since then, has met Joe himself. Michael joined the NoVa Caps team in 2015, and is most proud of the growth of the NoVa Caps community in that time. An avid photographer, Michael resides in VA.
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2 Responses to Story of The New Year: Vancouver Canucks Assistant Equipment Manager Seeks, Finds Seattle Kraken Fan Who Alerted Him to Cancerous Mole

  1. Anonymous says:


  2. Anonymous says:

    Great story, thanks for sharing it!

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