La Forge takes over from Farwell in Seattle . . . Bragin gets new deal . . . U of R honours Hornung, Kennedy

MacBeth

D Bohdan Višňák (Saskatoon, 2007-08) signed a one-year contract extension with Montpellier (France, Division 1). This season, he had three goals and 12 assists in 18 games in Division 2. Montpellier won promotion to Division 1 for next season. . . .

G Jordon Cooke (Kelowna, 2010-14) signed a one-year contract with Gap (France, Ligue Magnus). This season, with University of Saskatchewan (Canada West), he was 16-7-0, 2.29, .920 with three shutouts in 23 games. . . . Cooke was named Canada West goaltender of the year for the third straight season. He also was a first team Canada West all-star and a second team All-Canadian.


Scattershooting

Russ Farwell, the Seattle Thunderbirds’ general manager through 23 seasons, has moved upstairs, with Bil La Forge moving over from the Everett Silvertips to take over as the Seattlenew GM. . . . Seattle owners Dan and Lindsey Leckelt made the announcement on Wednesday. . . . Farwell, 62, now is the vice president of hockey operations. Farwell took over as the general manager in time for the 1988-89 season, after six seasons as GM of the Medicine Hat Tigers, who won two Memorial Cups during his time there. . . . He spent two seasons in Seattle before leaving for the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers with whom he spent four seasons as GM. He returned to Seattle for the 1995-96 season. He was part of a group that purchased the franchise in 2002; the Leckelt brothers bought it last summer. . . . La Forge, 44, joined the Silvertips as a scout in 2008, was named head scout prior to 2011-12, and has been the director of player personnel through for seasons. He also has scouted with the Lethbridge Hurricanes and Tri-City Americans.


Headline in the New York Post after Game 1 of the NBA final: Who shot? Not J.R. . . . Headline at BorowitzReport.com: NFL adds First Amendment to list of banned substances. . . . A note from comedian Argus Hamilton: “The NFL just slapped a 15-yard penalty on players who don’t watch Fox News in their hotel rooms.”


What do hockey coaches do in the off-season? If you’re Enio Sacilotto, you keep busy by playing host to The Mental Edge Training Seminars. Sacilotto, a former WHL assistant coach with the Chilliwack Bruins/Victoria Royals, has seminars scheduled for June 16 at Delta Planet Ice and Aug. 17 at Hollyburn Country Club. . . . He also runs all kinds of hockey camps for players of all ages in such places as Coquitlam Planet Ice, Nanaimo, Hollyburn CC, Burnaby Winter Club and Victoria. . . . For more info on any of this, visit www.coachenio.com. . . . These days, Sacilotto is coaching at the West Vancouver Hockey Academy, and also is the head coach of the Croatian national men’s team. He also is the mental skills coach with the Simon Fraser U men’s team. . . . During his 35-year coaching career, he has worked in five countries. . . . With his experience and with at least three WHL teams looking for a head coach, you might think Sacilotto could be a prime candidate for a bench job.


Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times wonders: “With Brewers infielder Travis Shaw lighting up Pirates pitcher Ivan Nova to the tune of a .786 batting average, eight RBI and three homers in just 17 career at-bats, does that make him the Bossa Nova?”



Valeri Bragin has had his contract with the Russian Hockey Federation extended for two seasons, with the federation holding an option on two additional seasons. . . . Bragin, 62, has been the head coach of the Russian national junior team since 2010-11. . . . Bragin will be behind the bench of the Russian team that is scheduled to play Team WHL in the CIBC Canada-Russia series in Kamloops on Nov. 5 and Vancouver on Nov. 6. . . . Bragin will be back in B.C. for the 2019 World Junior Championship that is to open in Vancouver and Victoria on Dec. 26.


A recent tweet from reliever John Axford of the Toronto Blue Jays: “Dear couple that clearly broke up while standing near our bullpen in the 5th inning today: Lovely entertainment for a few minutes, but we hope you’re OK. Feel free to come back tomorrow and discuss with us. We can provide the third-party point of view! Love, the Jays bullpen!”


With soccer’s World Cup about to start in Russia, Greg Cote of the Miami Herald notes: “Vladimir Putin has already decided who’ll join Russia in the final, but he isn’t saying.”


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Mitchell looks back at Humboldt . . . Broncos, Americans win . . . MJHL title rests in Steinbach

ThisThat

Kevin Mitchell of the Saskatoon StarPhoenix is one of Canada’s best-kept writing secrets. He is a wordsmith and an observer of the human condition who could more than hold his own in any marketplace. . . . On Saturday, he wrote about visiting Humboldt immediately after the Broncos’ bus crash and all that he discovered. That piece is right here.



F Giorgio Estephan’s third goal of the game, at 9:38 of OT, gave the host Swift Current Broncos a 4-3 victory over the Lethbridge Hurricanes in Game 2 of the WHL’s best-of-SCBroncosseven Eastern Conference final on Saturday night. . . . They’ll play Game 3 in Lethbridge on Tuesday. . . . TheBroncos had won the opener, 3-2, on Friday night. . . . Estephan and G Stuart Skinner, who stopped 36 shots, were acquired from the Hurricanes on Jan. 9. . . . The Broncos lost F Glenn Gawdin in the second period, according to Greg Harder of the Regina Leader-Post, “after he took a hit in the corner. Asked about his captain after the game, (Broncos head coach Manny) Viveiros responded: ‘He’s fine.’ ” As Harder noted: “That’s his customary response to questions about injuries — regardless of the severity.” . . . Harder added: “The Broncos were already without D Artyom Minulin, who didn’t finish Game 1 due to an undisclosed injury that was initially described as an illness. He missed three games in the first round due to an apparent shoulder issue and may have re-injured it on Friday.” . . .

Harder’s complete story is right here.

Darren Steinke, the travellin’ blogger, also was at the game and his piece is right here.


In Everett, the Tri-City Americans scored three third-period goals and beat the Silvertips, 5-3. Tri-City F Max James broke a 3-3 tie with his first goal of these playoffs at 12:29 of the third period. . . . The Western Conference final is tied, 1-1, with Game 3 in Kennewick, Wash., on Monday night.


The Steinbach Pistons won the MJHL title on Saturday night, beating the hometown Virden Oil Capitals, 2-1. Virden won the first two games of the best-of-seven series, only to have Steinbach roar back with four straight victories to win its first championship since 2013. . . . Paul Dyck, a former WHL defenceman (Moose Jaw, 1989-91), is in his sixth season as the Pistons’ general manager and head coach. . . . The Pistons will play the SJHL champion — either the Nipawin Hawks or Estevan Bruins — for the ANAVET Cup. Nipawin leads the SJHL final, 3-2, with Game 6 in Estevan tonight (Sunday) at 7:30.


Former WHL player Sheldon Kennedy is being honoured by Assiniboine Community College of Brandon. Kennedy has been awarded ACC’s second annual Courage Award, and will be saluted at a dinner on Oct. 25. . . . He was born in Brandon and grew up in Elkhorn, Man. . . . Kennedy heads up the Sheldon Kennedy Child Advocacy Centre and also is the co-founder of Respect Group.


Last fall, three men died in Fernie, B.C., after being exposed to ammonia while working on the ice plant in the community’s arena. After that tragedy, WorkdSafeBC began inspecting arenas and recreation facilities across the province. Now, Karin Larsen of CBC News reports, communities are having to find money for repairs. For example, Larsen writes, Rossland needs $200,000 “to keep (its arena) operating” because safety upgrades are needed around the ice plant. . . . The same holds true, to one extent or another, for numerous facilities. . . . Larsen’s story is right here.


Sheldon Kennedy, Swift Current and the healing process

These days, Sheldon Kennedy works at helping other people heal, and Sunday was no exception.

Kennedy survived the bus crash involving the Swift Current Broncos on Dec. 30, 1986. He also survived sexual abuse at the hands of Graham James, who was the general manager and head coach of those Broncos.

These days, Kennedy travels the country as an advocate for children and others who have been, or continue to be, victims of sexual abuse. He also spends a lot of time working on behalf of the Sheldon Kennedy Child Advocacy Centre in Calgary, the goal of which is to stop the cycle of abuse.

On Sunday, Kennedy was in Saskatoon to visit with, and offer support to, survivors of Friday’s crash in which 15 people aboard the Humboldt Broncos’ bus lost their lives and the 14 survivors all were injured. The Broncos were en route to Nipawin, where they were to have played the Hawks in Game 5 of a Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League semifinal series.

Kennedy, Peter Soberlak and Bob Wilkie, all of whom survived the Swift Current bus crash, and Darren Kruger, whose brother Scott died in that accident, arrived in Saskatoon on Sunday, then later travelled to Humboldt for a prayer vigil.

This kind of support is certain to help Humboldt and the Broncos’ family with the healing process, a process that really won’t end.

For proof of that, let’s revisit the City of Swift Current and all that its citizens have gone through since that blustery day in late December of 1986.

Only James and his victims knew at that time what was going on behind closed doors. The survivors of the bus crash went on to play again and, in fact, won the Memorial Cup in the spring of 1989, still with James at the helm.

The Broncos’ success was seen as an avenue to healing in Swift Current, a city of about 16,000 people who absolutely loved their hockey team.

In time, the players moved on with their lives, some going into pro hockey, others on to careers.

Kennedy was one who went on to pro hockey. Then, in 1996, Kennedy, a troubled individual by that time, blew the whistle on James, who by now was with the Calgary Hitmen. James was charged on Nov. 22 with two counts of sexual assault involving more than 300 encounters with a pair of former players over a 10-year period.

The national media, which 10 years earlier had descended on Swift Current with tears in its eyes and empathy in its words, returned, only this time it was pointing fingers. It had questions. Who knew what? When did they know it? You didn’t know anything? Why didn’t you know?

The citizens of Swift Current, who had healed perhaps as well as you ever will from the loss of four sons, withdrew into their homes and pulled down the shades. Now they were being forced to relive the past over and over and over again. Whenever James resurfaced in the public eye — and it was often — Swift Current found itself back in the spotlight. “Here we go again” could have been the city’s motto.

Through all of this, Kennedy had what was at best an arm’s-length relationship with Swift Current. He returned in 2009 for a 20-year reunion of the Memorial Cup team, but admitted to feeling that there still were “a lot of skeletons” in the community.

That changed on May 27, 2016, when Kennedy, by now mature and well into his role as an advocate, was in Swift Current to be inducted into the Broncos’ Hall of Fame. It was almost 30 years since the accident and Kennedy wanted to let the city know that it was OK to let go, that it was OK to hold your head high and to move on.

“I think it’s another day to give us all permission to move forward in a positive direction and forgive ourselves but not forget,” Kennedy told the crowd at the banquet and induction ceremony. “I think that’s important, and understanding the important role of sport and understanding the important role of community and raising kids and making sure that we create that healthy atmosphere (in which) to do so. . . . we can move beyond tragic events and there’s hope. It has to be about hope and there’s hope to learn, to accept and to move on. I think that’s important and that’s what today is, and for that it means a lot to me.”

That was the day when Kennedy made Swift Current his city.

One thing that Kennedy and Wilkie have always remembered is that they were left to heal on their own in the aftermath of the bus accident.

In his book Why I Didn’t Say Anything, Kennedy wrote: “You would have thought that someone in charge would have arranged for the survivors to receive therapy to help them deal with the shock and grief following the accident, but none of us received any kind of professional help. Nobody seemed to want to talk about what happened.”

Kennedy, in the book Sudden-Death: The Incredible Saga of the 1986 Swift Current Broncos, put it this way: “The idea that Graham James got us through the bus crash is insulting. We didn’t rally around him. The players rallied. He had nothing to do with it. And he kept the professional help from the team because he didn’t want anyone to know he was a sexual predator — keeping out professional help was his idea, not the players’. The idea of keeping the dressing room door closed came from him.”

Wilkie, meanwhile, told Eric Francis of Postmedia: “We weren’t allowed to talk about it for fear his dirty secret would come out. My mom wondered for years why we were never given any of the resources we needed to cope with it properly. Those who wanted help were told ‘no’ by Graham. Now we know why.”

That — wanting to help — was the motivation for the quick decision to fly into Saskatoon on Sunday. They know that unlike 1986 there will be professional help available to people impacted by what transpired on Highway No. 35 near Nipawin on Friday night.

At the same time, Kennedy, Soberlak and Wilkie are among the few who have survived this kind of tragedy and know that they have something to offer.

At the same time, the people of Humboldt, with its population of about 6,000, know that the hurt isn’t going to go away anytime soon. You never want to lose the memories, but there are times when you don’t want to hurt. But it always will be there, to one degree or another.

And just when you think that maybe it is gone, there will be an accident somewhere and people will remember what happened to Humboldt’s hockey team on April 6, 2018, and the spotlight will return.

If you don’t believe it, just ask the people of Swift Current, who no doubt have been reliving it all for the past two days.

Scattershooting in the aftermath of tragedy

Scattershooting

Logan Boulet, a defenceman from Lethbridge who turned 21 on March 2, was among the players who died on Friday in the tragedy involving the SJHL’s Humboldt Broncos.

Boulet had signed his organ donor card upon turning 21, and his organs will benefit others. He was kept on life support into Saturday in order to allow that to happen.

Liam Nixon of Global Lethbridge tweeted a statement from Logan’s father, Toby, on Saturday evening. Part of that statement: “Despite other media reports today, Logan’s strong heart continues to beat this evening. The final harvesting of Logan’s organs will take place overnight, now that he has positive matches for all organs donated.”

Earlier, Nixon had reported that Logan “is giving new hope to at least six different people.”

Neil Langevin, a family friend of the Boulets, was Logan’s godfather. Langevin tweeted that a surgical team from the U of Alberta hospital would travel to Saskatoon “for organ transplant procedures. There have been matches made for all vital organs, including a patient set to receive his heart and lungs. . . . The family will stay with Logan until the surgery begins at around 2 a.m.”

Langevin added: “Following the organ surgery, his other organs will be donated to science as he requested. These actions alone give voice to the selfless and benevolent nature Logan possessed in life for others, truly taught and fostered by Toby and Bernie.”

As someone whose wife was did peritoneal dialysis for four years before being the beneficiary of a kidney transplant, I will admit there were tears when I read all of this news. There really aren’t words at a time like this, but a heartfelt ‘Thank you’ — along with the deepest condolences — to Logan’s family and friends.



Glen Doerksen was driving the Humboldt Broncos’ bus at the time of the accident. He didn’t survive the crash. He also drove for the Kinistino Tigers of the Wheatland Senior Hockey League. . . . Dave Deibert of the Saskatoon StarPhoenix has more on Doerksen right here.


Sheldon Kennedy, Peter Soberlak and Bob Wilkie were players with the 1986-87 Swift Current Broncos and survived the bus crash on Dec. 30, 1986, that claimed the lives of four teammates. Kennedy, Soberlak and Wilkie are scheduled to arrive in Humboldt today (Sunday) and will provide help and support where they can.


On Saturday evening, I received an email from a relative of one of the injured players. “His Mother is there and having mixed emotions with her son surviving with other Mothers losing sons,” read part of the email. . . . Yes, survivor’s guilt is something with which people will have to deal, which is among the many reasons that counsellors are being made available.



One of the things we need to keep in mind at a time like this is that because of social media, spring/summer hockey and travelling teams, players throughout hockey are often more than acquainted with so many more players than players of yesteryear. Thus, a tragedy of this nature will have a far greater and more personal impact on more players than even the accident involving the Swift Current Broncos.



While general manager/head coach Darcy Haugan and assistant coach Mark Cross were among the fatalities, athletic therapist Dayna Brons survived and is recovering from undisclosed injuries in hospital. From Lake Lenore, Sask., she is a graduate (kinesiology and health studies) of the U of Regina. Brons is in her second season with the Broncos.


Darcy Haugan, 41, leaves behind his wife, Christine, and two sons, Carson and Jackson. Christine works for the Broncos as their office manager.


If you click right here, you will find a person-by-person look at many of those killed or injured in the crash involving the Humboldt Broncos’ bus.


Devin Cannon and his wife, Rene, provided a billet home for three of the Humboldt Broncos players — D Xavier Labelle, 18, from Saskatoon; F Logan Hunter, from St. Albert, Alta.; and D Adam Herold, who was to turn 17 on Thursday. Herold spent this season as the captain of the midget AAA Regina Pat Canadians. When their season ended, he joined the Broncos. . . . Labelle, Hunter and Herold all died in the crash.


F Evan Thomas, 18, also died in the accident. From Saskatoon, his father, Scott, played for the Moose Jaw Warriors (1988-91) and Tacoma Rockets (1991-91) and now is involved in hockey as the president of the midget AAA Saskatoon Blazers. Evan was in his first season with the Broncos. . . . F Jaxon Joseph, 20, was the son of Chris Joseph, a defenceman who played with the Seattle Thunderbirds (1985-88) before going on to a pro career that included 510 NHL games. . . . Jaxon played 21 games with the BCHL’s Surrey Eagles in 2015-16, before joining the SJHL’s Melfort Mustangs where he spent last season. He played 16 games with the Mustangs this season before being acquired by the Broncos.


Another email that I received on Saturday evening pointed out that “in my opinion, buses are a terrific mode of transport. I have been riding in/driving a bus for close to 40 years and in that time there are only a couple of times that were scary. Buses, inherently, with their long wheel base are very stable in almost all conditions — fog and black ice being the exceptions. Kudos to all the drivers out there who have done such an outstanding job all these years.” (The afore-mentioned email didn’t come from Bob Ridley.)