Gord Downie's passing was not unexpected, but that didn't make it any less of a blow to the Canadian music and sports communities.


The Tragically Hip frontman, whose death after a battle with brain cancer was announced Wednesday by the band, was a passionate sports fan. References to hockey and Canadian sports history were sewn into some of his lyrics.

Downie's passing was mourned throughout the sports world as athletes and organizations touched by his music shared their thoughts on social media.

At the 2002 Winter Olympics, Downie pulled some members of the gold-medal winning Canadian women's hockey team on stage during a concert at the University of Utah.

"Our whole team was onstage with Gord and the whole band," recalled Hayley Wickenheiser. "Nothing crazy (or) fancy ever. It was just those guys usually playing and all the athletes, the hockey team, sitting around and having a beer and chit-chatting. Just the ultimate Canadian experience when you think of how humble and understated they were and he was, but just so brilliant in terms of the lyrics and the stuff that he put together that really resonated with athletes and our team through the years."

Wickenheiser said his death is a "loss for Canada."

"We all knew he didn't have much time left," she said. "It's a big hole in the fabric of music and sport and who we are as Canadians."

with files from Canadian Press