I want to thank everyone who has e-mailed me or left comments on this blog over the last few days. I've read them and I appreciate them. Ths blog has become a debate between myself and ESPN.com's Gare Joyce over this article http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/eticket/story?page=swiftcurrent
The debate can be found in the comments section of this blog. Check back over the last few days.
Gare Joyce has been kind enough to respond to my writings on this blog, my blog. On this debate I have home ice advantage. It is my blog, I have total control over what get's posted. It is read by my friends, my family and people in my hometown who have told me their views are similar to mine. Out of courtesy to Mr. Joyce, who has been kind enough to post several times, I'm trying to keep things neutral between the two of us, and make this a place free of name calling and us Swift Current folk "ganging up on him".
Please feel free to e-mail me. I may post it when things die down, and I will certainly read it.
One valid question from a long time Bronco fan (known as ointhecreek) is "Why do you keep dodging the question of why Graham James had to be brought in on a story about the four players who died?"
I think he came to Swift Current with the intention of doing a great article on the four players. When he saw that story lacked the sizzle the Big City/American media likes, he found Graham James and Brady's quotes a solid plan B.
That's just my thoughts on his motives. Gare, feel free to respond.
I realize we have had our differences in opinions in the past but I just wanted you to know that all of us at whlfans are behind you and Mr.Keen on this issue. If there is anything we can do to help don't hesitate to ask. This guy is the apitimy(sp) of why hockey in general has a bad rap in the US. Very little hits the mainstream media and sports broadcasting here that doesn't in some way portray hockey in a negative light. ESPN is one of the worst at this. Very little positive however The Bertuzzi incident,Chris Simon incident and the Rick Tocchet gambling bust got nonstop coverage.Hell,other than Barry Melrose's small time slot hockey is dead to ESPN in the US.
The "valid" question is laughable.
I can't imagine that anyone could write about the bus crash and not mention the team's coach. I can't imagine avoiding any mention of G James. It would be a very incomplete picture of what was going on with the team before and after. "Four players died but there was nobody sitting in the front seat of the bus." "The team kept on playing but with nobody behind the bench." You want me to write the story without James--I guess I can't use Sheldon Kennedy's name either. How do people in the community feel about Sheldon Kennedy talking about G James? I'm not surprised that I'm criticized but he's not--as a victim he has been granted immunity from criticism.
The guy who wants me to write about the crash but not mention James is unintentionally proving my point--it's an example of avoidance and denial. Just his avoidance and denial, mind you. Then again, that his question is valid to you or anyone else in Swift Current is telling. It's a painful episode in the team's past but that doesn't mean it should be buried beside the four Broncos. In fact, if everyone else in the organization and in Swift Current acted appropriately during that time and after, I don't know why they'd have a problem with the subject material. If that were the case, though, a lot of pain would have been avoided. That the McBains and others can say that James did a good job on most, some or any counts--with the team on the ice, with the team off the ice after the crash--just strikes people outside SC as pathological. Of the folks in SC in the story the person who has the appropriate response all these years after is Fanner. According to her, James was a monster, period, nothing redeeming about it. You can't say anything good about him. And she had much regret about not asking S Kennedy what was wrong--she had a sense that he was troubled but didn't know why. Wishes she had asked. That seems appropriate. Sad but appropriate.
Again, I didn't say people in the community knew about James's sordid secrets--Bob Wilkie did. I didn't suggest that people who should have been supporting the young players were in fact enablers for James--Kennedy did. I didn't say that junior hockey hasn't done enough to prevent to prevent and other G James from coming along--Kennedy again.
Look, shoot the messenger. I can deal with it. Funny, outside of Brady Leovold,no one quoted in the story has been criticized here. That some of you would demote Brady because of the story--yup that's your love of the team talking. It is certainly consistent with the town's love of silence.
It is sad but true that any comprehensive story about the Broncos is incomplete without at least a Graham James footnote.
We could go in circles the rest of our lives Gare. Fact is when people visit http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/eticket/story?page=swiftcurrent
What do they see? DENIAL OF DEATH Why Has One Small Hockey Town Turned it's Back on The Victims of It's Greatest Tradgedy? Complete with a photo of Graham and Sheldon.
For you to say our city (Swift Current is a city, not a small town)has turned it's back on the four players is wrong. Just wrong! Lots of season ticket holders today where high school classmates of the Four Broncos. Did you talk to any of them? Gare, I get the sense that when you saw people walk past the memorial in the lobby without paying respects you assumed no one cared.
Did you write the title of your article? "Why Has One Small Town Turned It's Back on The Victims of It's Greatest Tradgedy?" That's YOUR title. Not Tisdale's, not Wilkie, not Fanner, YOUR WORDS GARE. DENIAL OF DEATH, straight from the fingers of Gare Joyce to ESPN.
Don't talk of our town's love of silence. You didn't even talk to anyone. Gare, we met briefly. If you would have asked I could pointed out thirty people in the crowd who were season ticket holders now and back in 86 who could have given you gold for your story. I would have happily introduced you to them. There is nothing a long time Bronco fan would rather do than remember Chris Mantyka beating up Kevin Kaminski, or the game within a game between Scotty Kruger and a young Theoron Fleury.
Gare, you can say "Don't shoot the messenger" all you want. You had lots of great things you could have said. I highly doubt no one on the Bronco's roster had anything positive to say about the team and city.
You've had your 20 year career, your book, your awards and now this article which when read by people down east and in the US may earn more awards for you. Your story could have been one that put our city in a positive light. In the last two days myself and readers on forums and blogs have given you an abundance of Swift Current Bronco hockey success stories. Stuff you could have used and would surely have noticed for yourself that you ignored.
You accuse Swift Current of being in denial. Take a look in the mirror Gare. Sure some of us may have denial issues with ourselves. You denied a continent the truth about our city. In your grand scheme of things that probably isn't that important, but to us you really kicked us when we were down and vulnerable.
Many people have told you to never come back to Swift Current. I hope you do come back. Heck you can stay at my house. I hope you return with an open mind. I hope you take time to talk to real people. People who went through the ups and downs. People who chanted "Joe" when Sakic tied Fleury for the league scoring title. People who made the road trip to Saskatoon for the 89 mem cup and celebrated with the team.
You could have wrote about a kid who I'm looking at as I type this. His name is Donovan. We was in diapers Dec. 30 1986. He works at the radio station for the token 'less than stellar' radio wage. He could use his media status to get into games for free but he buys a season ticket every year. He has taken the time to educate himself abuot the Four Broncos and supports the team with all he's got 40 times a year and for a few road games.
But I suppose that wouldn't be as juicy as "sad faced, world weary, trainers haunted by the past".
Did you even mention it was that "sad faced trainer" who designed the four leaf clover logo? Didn't think so.
Who's in denial?
hey gare, so...um...if G James WASN'T the coach at the time...the bus would never have crashed???
Switz, the proble Gare has with writitng the good stuff is that no one wants to read good. BAD sells! Just look at how many copies the tabloids sell. Maybe hand in your CHL pass Gare, there's your calling right there. This guy LOVES the attention because most scum reporters get off on this kind of publicity.
While we are shooting the messenger anyways, someone shoot that fur "hat" creature that he wore around the rink while you're at it!!
Gare, I owe you an apology.
You DID mention Honda created the clover design.
I take back the last few sentences of my last comment.
I just wanted to make sure the legitimate local content you actually did include wasn't overlooked and appreciated.
I tried to do a sympathetic handling of Gord's story, which is painfully sad. Fact is, I don't accuse him of knowing what was going on with James. I say that he had to deal with people's suspicions and he was very forthright to me about having media types knock on his door in the middle of the night--some people are equipped to deal with stuff like that, but Gord isn't.
Could you designate one or two of the fine SC citizens who are dumping on me to perhaps take a break and consider what might be a fitting tribute to the team and memorial for the players at the town museum where many are remembered--politicians, businessmen, athletes, and other local figures--but not the Broncos, not the championship team, not the four who lost their lives
Hey Switz, you gave this guy the benefit of the doubt by saying, "I think he came to Swift Current with the intention of doing a great article on the four players. When he saw that story lacked the sizzle the Big City/American media likes, he found Graham James and Brady's quotes a solid plan B." Well, I guess Gare Joyce has refuted your belief that he came to Swift Current with good intentions as he has stated, "I can't imagine that anyone could write about the bus crash and not mention the team's coach. I can't imagine avoiding any mention of G James."
Gare, for the record I am not from Swift Current. In fact I have only been to Swift Current once in the last two years, however, my opinion is that it is a despicable act to come to a community under the impression that you were going to write a tribute piece, when your intentions the whole time were to write an angle on the Graham James story. I know for a fact that no one disagrees, or has any issue with you writing on the monster that Graham James was, or 'mentioning' him in the article. The problem comes in when you use the memory of The Four Broncos as an excuse to come into a small town and write an article with the intent of bashing the town and its residents.
If you wish to respond to this post, I would like to ask this simple question that will give you an opportunity to clear the air:
What were your intentions for your article when you first made your trip to Swift Current? and when did you decide to take the route you did?
Actually, I thought I'd write about a ceremony like the Solidarity of Sorrow 20 years after. I just presumed that it would be in SC something like Nov 11 in Ottawa with veterans coming out, an annual event, large-scale tribute with a wide range of characters. I presumed that there would be something like this. There wasn't. I was told that the coach/GM proposed raising a banner in the arena in tribute to the Ruff, Kruger, Mantyka, Kresse, maybe bringing in their parents or family--that would be the coach/GM who, as a player, had been on the arena floor for the memorial 20 years before. That seemed to be a very reasonable and appropriate tribute--and it never had a chance. So my one story blew up and this one presented itself. (I had thought about doing a story structured around four players on the team who filled roles and lived lives parallel to the four Broncos who were killed ... but there wasn't a good fit, certainly no Mantyka or Kruger on the team.)
Only a moment of silence -- if that had been all, well, I might have done something else with the story. But the museum was almost spooky in Broncos-avoidance. When I went to city hall--I had to cut a paragraph on this for reasons of space--an official there brushed me off with the not-our-department line and said it was just up to the team. And then when Tim Tisdale told me that there was nothing done on an anniversary a few years back when he was coaching the Pats, well, that was just unseemly. (Fanner, of course, said they never did enough.) At that point I went in another direction.
Fact is, no writer or reporter should go into a story with too many assumptions about what he's going to write--you report it first and then write, rather than finding facts to fit your story. I'd have loved to have done a story about Fanner dropping the puck at centre ice--she and Scoof were such great characters, it would have been great to write about her and Scott and Scoof and the twins, about how the town poured it all out for her. That didn't get to the board either, or if it did it would have been spiked.
And, yes, Fanner told me about Lorne. Re Kennedy and Wilkie--Kennedy said that James managed to fool many players, people around the team and around town--that he was manipulative, devious, duplicitous (funny, all the things you accuse me of). But Scott Kruger knew something was up, fans chants in other rinks were on point, and so you can't completely dismiss what Wilkie says either.
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