BOSTON -- As photographers prepared for Monday's Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final at TD Garden, they were achingly missing a familiar face. Reuters sports photographer Shaun Best died Saturday night in Montreal while driving home from covering the Canadian Grand Prix. Best was 43.
Assigned to the Cup Final, the Montreal-based Best was shooting the car race in between assignments of Games 5 and 6 of the Final. He was scheduled to be in Boston for Monday's big night.
Best was easy to spot among hockey photographers. He was always wearing a Winnipeg Jets cap and, like lots of native Winnipeggers, he was excited about the pending sale and relocation of the Atlanta Thrashers to his home city.
Best covered his first Stanley Cup Final in 2000. He was on hand for two Olympic hockey tournaments, shooting Canada's gold-medal performances in Salt Lake City and Vancouver.
"It goes without saying that the hockey playoffs and the Stanley Cup Finals were Shaun's favorite event to cover," said Gary Hershorn, a photo editor in the Reuters New York office. "He excelled at it.
Best had another connection to hockey's highest level. His dad, Rick Best was a goalie for Michigan Tech during the mid-1960s. He split time and shared all-America honors with Tony Esposito.
Best started as a freelance photographer at the Winnipeg Sun while still in high school. He worked a staff photographer at the paper before moving to Montreal to work for Reuters in the mid-1990s.
"It's a real shock," said Winnipeg Sun photographer Brian Donogh. "He was a friendly guy and very hard-working. He was dedicated to his work and had a real touch for sports photography."
"He came out of Winnipeg and saw the world with his camera," Mike Blake, a Reuters colleague, said en route to San Diego. "He was friends with all photographers on the circuit, including those he competed with."
"It's a sad day for all of us."