- Sunaya Sapurji at Yahoo Sports20 days ago
SAGINAW, Mich. — Jim Paliafito stands in the parking lot outside of the Dow Event Center, asking one question, over and over again. It’s a question that will never be answered.
“Why?” asks the general manager of the Saginaw Spirit, choking up.
“It’s the last thing I think about when I go to bed at night and the first thing I think about when I wake up in the morning.”
Why did Terry Trafford take his own life after being cut from the Ontario Hockey League club for a violation of team rules, ending a stay of four years with the Spirit?
Less than two weeks after Trafford’s death in this city of close to 51,000 residents, Paliafito, head coach Greg Gilbert and team president Craig Goslin sat down with Yahoo Sports in a boardroom at the Dow Event Center to answer some of the questions about the 20-year-old’s final days.
- Sunaya Sapurji at Yahoo Sports27 days ago
The memory Connor Brown keeps closest to his heart these days is the one involving his friend Terry Trafford. The pair first met when they were minor hockey teammates and spent four years playing together as kids.
“One time I went over to his house and hung out with him all day,” said the Erie Otters captain, now 20. “We were young, so I think we were playing with his slot cars. It’s just a little memory, but it’s something that sticks out in my mind about him.”
Terry Trafford was laid to rest on Tuesday at a service in his hometown of Toronto.
Trafford’s body was found on March 11 in his truck. Police determined the Saginaw Spirit forward died of self-inflicted asphyxiation. The 20-year-old had reportedly suffered from depression and had been distraught over being cut by the Spirit after four years of Ontario Hockey League service.
Brown, like so many others, is wondering how this could have happened to a guy known for his big smile and happy demeanor.
- Sunaya Sapurji at Yahoo Sports1 mth ago
Every junior hockey team has a prankster. In Saginaw, it was Terry Trafford.
He was the player who would hide water cups in shin pads and go to the rink extra early to unscrew the hooks holding up his teammates’ skates in the Spirit dressing room.
“He would always take my scissors and tape them up somewhere where I couldn’t find them,” said former Saginaw teammate Brandon Archibald. “He always did it for fun and it was good for team morale in the locker room – he was a good locker room guy.”
Trafford was also the first player to welcome newcomer Gregg Sutch after a trade brought him to Saginaw. Sutch remembers walking into the Spirit room for the first time and being greeted by the face of his soon-to-be linemate and eventual dear friend.
“He just sat there with this goofy smile and said, ‘Hey, I'm Terry Trafford’," recalled Sutch. “He put his hand out to shake . . . just a genuinely friendly guy.”
Even after Sutch, now 22, graduated from the Ontario Hockey League, he and Trafford kept in touch regularly with their cell phones – sending text messages and whatever else would make them laugh.
- Yahoo Sports1 mth ago
As the search continues for missing Terry Trafford, his friends and family are growing more concerned. The 20-year-old Saginaw Spirt player has not been seen or heard from since last Monday.
“His family is devastated,” said Skye Cieszlak, Trafford’s girlfriend of four years. “My family is devastated. Me, myself, I’m miserable.”
On Monday morning, while speaking with Yahoo! Sports, Cieszlak and her family were en route to a Saginaw police station to double check that a missing persons report had been filed with local authorities. On Saturday evening, when contacted by a reporter about Trafford’s disappearance the officer on the Saginaw County Central Dispatch night desk had no knowledge of a report being filed.
“I know everyone is saying that the Saginaw police are involved but I want to make sure,” said Cieszlak.
Trafford had been seen last at the Dow Event Center, the home of the Spirit, on March 3. It is believed he was heading back home to Toronto, but Toronto Police Const. Victor Kwong told The Canadian Press that authorities have no record of Trafford crossing the border.
- Yahoo Sports1 mth ago
There are new contracts being sent out and signed that will usher in some big, new changes to the Ontario Hockey League.
Yahoo Canada has learned that the two most significant amendments to its current program for players focuses on the OHL’s education packages and a new monthly reimbursement plan – covering a number of items like gas, clothing and other incidentals like food – for up to $470. OHL commissioner David Branch, said the initiatives were ratified by the league’s board of governors in August and are now being implemented.
“We are constantly, regularly, always challenging how we can improve things for our players on and off the ice,” Branch told Yahoo Canada on Thursday. “We recognize that they are the most important people in the game.”
According to Branch, under the new expanded benefits package, players will now have extra time for using the money they receive for post-secondary education. Previously the league had given players 18 months from their last game played to use their school packages. That funding disappeared, however, if the player signed a contract with a National Hockey League or American Hockey League team.
- Yahoo Sports2 mths ago
Sarnia Sting defenceman, Anthony DeAngelo, hasn’t played in two weeks. The last time he saw the ice was during a game against the Guelph Storm on Jan. 31. Up until now, the word had been the talented blueliner had been serving a team suspension issued by head coach Trevor Letowski.
It’s not the first time a player has been disciplined by a coach and it won’t be the last. The situation, though, has been cloudy with Letowski dancing around why exactly he’s decided to sit the highly touted NHL draft prospect.
Those clouds parted on Friday, when the Ontario Hockey League announced they had suspended the native of Sewell, N.J., eight games for violating the league’s harrassment, abuse and diversity policy. It's the second time this season the 18-year-old has been suspended for contravening the rule which attempts to keep homophobic, racist, sexist, and the other derogatory language used by small minds – out of the game.
The minimum suspension for this infraction is five games. Recently, Windsor’s Steven Janes was suspended five games under the same policy. In Janes’ case it was something offensive said to an opponent during a game.
- Sunaya Sapurji at Yahoo Sports2 mths ago
There was a time when the small-market franchise was considered the lifeblood of junior hockey. In many cases they were the only game in town. It was a cheap night out and something many families could readily afford.
Teams were run more like mom-and-pop local stores. In the new OHL landscape, however, more and more franchises are being run like Supercentres in big, state-of-the-art arenas. For some it’s a big, profitable business. For the rest it’s a daily grind to stay in the black and still ice a competitive team.
No one knows this balance better than the Owen Sound Attack.
The Attack play in the OHL’s smallest market with roughly 22,000 residents -- though that number almost doubles when you factor in the neighbouring townships. Still, the 3,500-capacity J.D. McArthur Arena is regularly more than 80 per cent full. The team is competitive and won an OHL title in 2011.
“We have to do things smarter because we’re smaller,” says Attack president and part owner, Dr. Bob Severs. “That’s the challenge … there are several challenges, but the primary challenge is that when you make a decision you don’t have the luxury of being able to make a major error and walk away from that.
- Sunaya Sapurji at Yahoo Sports3 mths ago
MALMO, Sweden — For the second consecutive year, Canada is coming home empty-handed from the world junior championships.
It’s the first time since 1978-81 that Canada has been left off the podium in two straight tournaments. And, just like last year, it was the Russians that skated away with bronze – beating Canada 2-1 – in a game that didn’t really find its energy until halfway through the third period when defenceman Josh Morrissey scored Canada’s lone goal to cut the deficit.
Too little, too late.
"There’s not much mood right now," said Canadian captain Scott Laughton. "It’s tough. You can’t put it into words when you put on this crest and try and represent your country and you can’t even bring a medal back to Canada for the people who have been cheering for you and have 4,000 fans come down here, it’s…"
- Sunaya Sapurji at Yahoo Sports3 mths ago
MALMO, Sweden — Six months ago, in Lake Placid, N.Y., Finnish goaltender Juuse Saros was asked about how he viewed Canada’s recent performances at the world junior championships. Canada hasn’t won gold since 2009 and last year in Ufa, Russia, they finished without a medal for the first time since 1998.
"You don't have to be God to beat them," said Saros in an early August interview with Yahoo Sports. "It gives hope that guys will beat them."
On Saturday, Saros will get a chance to test out his theory first hand when he starts for Team Finland against Canada in the semifinals of the world junior championships.
So how does he feel about facing Canada now?
His views on needing divine intervention to beat the Canadians have not changed.
- Yahoo Sports3 mths ago
MALMO, Sweden — Aaron Ekblad stood behind a partition in the media mixed zone and watched intently as teammate Mathew Dumba was being interviewed.
As it turned out Dumba was talking about Ekblad. The pair are roommates together here with Team Canada, so the blueliners have been able to get to know each other quite well.
“He has the body of like a 35 or 40-year-old,” said Dumba of the 17-year-old defenceman. “The guy shaves his chest every week. I can’t believe it, he’s a man-child.”
Standing there, eavesdropping, all Ekblad could do was smile and shake his head. But Dumba wasn’t finished quite yet – there was still more.
“I don’t know, he’s just a huge human being,” said the defenceman, who spent the first half of the season with the NHL’s Minnesota Wild.
“I call him Shrek.”
The response elicited laughs from reporters.
It wasn’t long before Ekblad got his turn to speak to the same group of reporters as Dumba moved down the interview line.
“I’m not sure I like it too much,” said the Barrie Colts blueliner of the ogre-inspired nickname. “I mean I like Shrek, but I don’t think I look like him or anything like that.”