Friday, April 13, 2007

Day 4....

Go back to this past monday for a complete recap of a crazy week of my thoughts and Gare Joyce's reaction to his less than flattering portrayal of our community in his espn article. If you're new to the saga, start at this past monday's post and work your way back. Also visit Jon Keen's blog (links to the right).

The Booster is all over this. Chynoweth is ticked and his thoughts echo that of most Bronco fans despite the fact Gare made him look like the good guy. Dahlman from the Prairie Post has weighed in too. As much as people from Swifty have criticized RD for being the "guy from Med Hat who tries to write about Swift Current" I think he did a great job in his editorial.

Gare's latest response. The question "what were your intentions when you came to town?" Copied from a previous comment section:

Gare Joyce said...
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.

Yes, we've established that the museum is short on Bronco history. Point Joyce. Turn the page! I'm sure if you went to City Hall in 99% of WHL markets their city hall would give you the "not our department" line.

I find it odd that you cited members of the Kruger family as people who knew something was up with Graham, yet left out of your article that Fanner's brother and the Kruger boys' uncle was Lorne Frey. Graham's right hand man. No one worked closer to Graham than Lorne Frey. Not Honda, no one. If the Krugers had concerns, they certainly had an ear, a connection, someone to talk to about it. Gare, you have to admit your Fanner Kruger angle is lacking something. Lorne Frey is a great hockey man and was instrumental in building the dominant Bronco teams of yesterday. He's doing the same thing in Kelowna. He is a great hockey mind, a great person and obviously another example of someone who just didn't know... and was duped by a master manipulator.

The notion that our citizens turned a blind eye to a pedophile and seemingly sacrificed Sheldon Kennedy is absurd.

Did you know the largest attendance for a hockey game at the Civic Center was when Sheldon Kennedy came to Swift Current on his cross Canada tour? Between 3,000 and 3,500, basically one out of every 5 Swift Current residents showing support to Sheldon. Being someone who covered every angle, I'm sure you researched that fact too. The standing ovation he got that night? Another key moment in Bronco history you missed.

Yeah, we're a community in denial who turned our back on him.

I guess the whole community turning a blind eye and looking away looks better in print, doesn't it.

Short on facts. Short on truths. A great read for your peeps down east and in the US. Not fit for a bird cage lining in Swift Current.

I await your reply Gare...I'm not done yet. You seem to have one arrow that you want to fire over and over again. You shoot me, run over to pull the same arrow out, then shoot the same one again.

My quiver is full.



Gare Joyce said...

Your quiver is full -- but not with arrows.

I think you have to sort what "I" say and what "hometown heroes" and "pillar of the community" say.

It's Bob Wilkie who says someone in SC had to know about Graham James. It's Sheldon Kennedy who says that those who should have been looking out for the young players didn't have their eyes on the ball. It's Fanner and Tim Tisdale who say that enough wasn't done over the years. That's what they say--I don't say that, they do. It's an important distinction.

In fact, I went looking for ways that the town would pay tribute. I didn't go to the museum so I could show the town turning its back on the team -- I just assumed there would be a display there. It's like having a museum in Halifax without mentioning the dynamite in the harbour. I went to city hall and figured that maybe there would be flags at half mast, people wearing ribbons or pins, maybe something like a speech or presentation done at the public school. I went looking for ways that people would pay tribute, not in any way that's over-the-top, just in a manner that properly reminds of those whose lives were lost, why they were lost. Again, zilch.

Reasonable people would conclude that revisiting the bus crash--both in grieving and in reporting--would require also revisiting Graham James's role with the team. It would seem impossible to avoid, which is one reason--not the only reason, but certainly significant one, maybe the main one--that we got a moment of silence instead of a ceremony. (Think of the candlelight remembrances of the engineering students shot on the university campus in Montreal. Would something like that be appropriate for the four Broncos twenty years after? In my opinion, yes.) Of course the other complicating issues are the questions of the team's liability in both the bus crash and James's abuses of James and the other player who testified against him. A court never did find conclusively that the team wasn't at fault in the former and in the latter an out-of-court settlement (with the unnamed victim) is damning, the mealy-mouthed statement that accompanied it notwithstanding.

I understand that your radio outfit is entrenched in the community but I wonder how much you really speak for the people of Swift Current. No doubt, you speak for the junior-hockey franchise and you would take the owners' side, right or wrong, because you are, as the broadcaster, in partnership with them. And people have read my article and endorse it, yet when they tried to post comments on blogs--yours, others like-minded--they have no chance of getting on the screen.

Silence. You honor the dead with a moment of silence for fear of opening old wounds. You want to silence critics. You want to silence Brady Leovold and Bob Wilkie. Yeah, everyone came out to the arena for Sheldon Kennedy but I'm sure you wish he's shut up.

Moving on is one thing, a good thing. But the fact is, moving on and remembering is the high ground. Moving on and forgetting--or, at least on the team's part, making no effort to remember--is not. I heard the radio tribute that was done. That's all well and good. On the team's part, to have done something more would have only been right. Dean had the right idea.

I'm out of town and away from my computer on assignment for a week. I come back to check your bleatings on my return.

Switzer said...

"It's Bob Wilkie who says someone in SC had to know about Graham James. It's Sheldon Kennedy who says that those who should have been looking out for the young players didn't have their eyes on the ball. It's Fanner and Tim Tisdale who say that enough wasn't done over the years. That's what they say--I don't say that, they do. It's an important distinction."

Yes, Gare we know, you didn't say any of that. You just regurgitated Bob Wilkie's speculative quotes from ten years ago, and got some thoughts on remembering the boys from Tim Tisdale and Mrs. Kruger. Yes, Gare, everything you wrote was fact, blah blah same stuff you've been saying for days. You just had key omissions in your story.

As a local writer pointed out you criticized the fans, yet didn't even interview one of us. You made the board out to be cold and unfeeling and didn't even interview one of them. To me that's very incomplete and quite frankly it's cowardly. I'm not arguing your facts, but you article was one sided and damning and a totally inaccurate portrayal of our city.

Could Swift Current do more to remember the victims? Sure we could. "Is Denial of Death, how one small town turned it's back on the victims of it's greatest tradgedy" an appropriate title to sum up the community's thoughts about the victims and the Broncos? No.

Same arrow over and over again Gare. I have agreed with you that sadly no story is complete without at least Graham James sentence. A sad part of our history, but not the sum of our city and our franchise. Nothing new on your part here either.

You wonder how much I speak for the people of Swift Current? I knew you'd go this direction. No facts to back you up so try your hand at attacking my credibility. Like I said a few days ago, I'm not trying to be the voice of Swift Current. What I write are my thoughts and my experiences as a twenty one year fan of this hockey club. People may agree with me, people may not. I don't know the secret to success but the secret to failure is trying to please everyone.

The radio station's partnership with the team is irrelevant here. I was a young kid coping with the deaths of my heros, crying tears of joy in 89 and the stick boy from 1990 to 93 long before I read my first weather forecast. I'd fight you on this regardless of my profession. I was born and raised in Swift Current. I love this city. I love it's people. Being in the media there are people who hate what I do and dislike me. I don't care I love them too.

I'm sure lots of people who believe everything they read without thinking about it do endorse your article. None of them have sent any comments to this blog. None. The only comments I haven't posted are some very unflattering ones about you Gare.

No one wants to "silence" Brady Leavold and Bob Wilkie. Bob Wilkie can have his opinion. He did a great thing by putting the four leaf clovers on the jerseys of the midget team he coaches when they played in Calgary a few months back. Wilkie is very loyal and can't be faulted for that. No one wants to silence Brady more than you Gare after he posted on that you took him out of context.

Again, I'm not speaking for everyone, but I don't wish Sheldon would "shut up" as you say. Anyone who saw the movie about him knows he's had a rough life. Before, during and after his days in Swift he's battled his demons. I only hope Sheldon can find inner peace and quiet the cries within. I believe that's all anyone wants for him.

Enjoy your travels. Perhaps upon your return you'll bring something new to this debate and not just send me the same message worded differently.

Safe travels Gare. Good luck in your next assignment.

That's enough "bleating" for today.

Gare Joyce said...

Like I say, I've had emails from people who support my story and their comments have been supressed from blogs of Bronco-friendly, Bronco-affiliated folks. Read into that what you want. Likewise on Keen's blog, my subsequent comments have not been approved for viwing. As for editing on this blog, well, whatever.

Just to get facts straight, Bob Wilkie's quotes are from January, not ten years ago or whatever you suggested. And I talked to board memebers and to fans to an extent--amazing that somehow you were able to poll everyone who was at games that I attended in SC and presume that I didn't talk to any of them. And I interviewed people away from the rink to--for the record and on background. Did I put everuone I talked to into this story? No and the same can be said of my Mike Danton/David Frost story for ESPN The Magazine when I called on more than 60 of Mike Danton's high school classmates and dozens more of friends, former team-mates, former coaches, officials, etc. Just because it's not in the story, don't presume it's not there. Brady said everything attributed to him, denials aside, and everyone on the team and involved with the team knows that to be true. It's just the way things are, sad but true. You're associated with the official broadcaster. I understand your position. There are truly bad guys--James above and beyond--and there are victims--Kennedy likewise. Between them is everyone else. You place me closer to James than the board memebers who did almost nothing to honour the dead. My head wil hit the pillow and I'll not miss a second's worth of sleep. Like I say, many more speak well of me than speak ill. That's not true in Swift Current, but given the town's sorry track record of mistaking winners for losers, I can live with it.

Switzer said...

"Like I say, I've had emails from people who support my story and their comments have been supressed from blogs of Bronco-friendly, Bronco-affiliated folks. Read into that what you want. Likewise on Keen's blog, my subsequent comments have not been approved for viwing. As for editing on this blog, well, whatever."

I'm sure you do have support for your work. I'm sure you have friends and family who think you're amazing. I can't speak for any other websites and blogs, but as comments go, I have had NOTHING posivitve about you that I haven't posted. As for editing on this blog, what have I edited? Are you implying I've edited your words? We can continue this on your blog if you think you're being treated unfairly here.

So you did actually get new quotes from Bob Wilkie? In January? Just after his midget team played at the Macs with Bronco four leaf clovers on their jerseys? Another solid piece of info not found in "denial of death".

Funny how you sought out the only Bronco alumni out of several hundred who has ever publicly spoken out about the team, save Sheldon and the "unnamed player". Brad Larsen, Shane Hnidy and Dean McAmmond are just a few NHLers who played in Swift for Graham James. No sizzle there though. Just the same old boring quotes about us being a good hockey town and how nothing seemed wrong (Actually, Larsen would've given you a good story about a Bronco practice just before everything blew up).

As for my "official position, associated with the team's broadcaster" I've already clarified my stance there, but seeing as yuo like to go in cirlces, I'll say it again: I WAS A BRONCO FAN LONG BEFORE I WAS A RADIO PERSONALITY. This blog is not endorsed by Golden West Radio or the Broncos. My thoughts on this article would be the same regardless of my day job.

Let me rephrase something here. I'm sure you did "talk" to some fans. Spending five days in town even the most socially awkward people would have to have human interaction. You didn't quote anyone for your story. For all I know, you spent the day getting to know as many people as you could, then went to the Shack with your fur hat and sang Rasputin on karaoke night. From the perspective of the reader, which is the most important perpective here, you ignored us.

I like how you closed you last comment;
"Like I say, many more speak well of me than speak ill. That's not true in Swift Current, but given the town's sorry track record of mistaking winners for losers, I can live with it."

Well, back in December we did mistake you for an honest, credible reporter so I guess you got us there.


Anonymous said...

hey Gare! if you had ALL these e-mails from SC people supporting your words, but them on your OWN blog site !