Having lost a good friend to the same battle, it pains me to see Terry Trafford lose the fight. His girlfriend has told several media outlets that he had been battling this silent battle for several years. After being sent home from the Saginaw Spirit for violating team rules, it appears that was the spark needed for the battle to swing in depression's favor.
I'm certainly not blaming the Spirit's coaches or management for their decision. Reportedly, Trafford had been caught smoking marijuana during a recent road trip to Owen Sound. The Spirit, in their views, did what they had to do in this case, and the hard decision to sen Trafford home was made. While he had been suspended and was eligible to rejoin the team, it matters little now in the wake of what has unfolded.
Trafford, who had just turned 20 last month, was having a decent season with eight goals and 24 assists. While he wasn't leading the Spirit in scoring, he was a respected teammate and a dedicated player to the sport he loved. He was a third-round pick by Saginaw in the OHL Draft at 41st overall, and the Toronto-born Trafford looked like he would be a great addition to the club with his smooth skating ability and gritty play.
While he wasn't drafted by an NHL team, anything could have been possible going forward. Again, Trafford appeared to be a hard-working, character guy. But everything changed eight days ago when Trafford reportedly was last seen around 9:30am on March 3 at the Dow Event Center, the home arena for the Spirit.
Trafford's whereabouts for the next eight days will most likely be a mystery going forward, but the discovery of Trafford's body in his in the parking lot of the Walmart in Saginaw County's Saginaw Township makes any speculation irresponsible and heartless. The world lost a good kid to a silent killer, and he needs to be remembered in order to help others with this battle.
My heart and prayers go out to the Trafford family, the Saginaw Spirit team, Trafford's friends, former teammates and players who played against him. This is a horrible tragedy that really puts things back into perspective when we're talking about "life and death for a hockey team". While it may be a cliché in most circles, Terry Trafford makes it very real.
With respect to Terry's passing, the OHL decided that Wednesday's game between the Spirit and the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds would be postponed, and will be rescheduled at a later date. Grief counselors will meet with the Spirit players that day to help them cope with this tragic news, and that the remaining three games on the Spirit schedule will be decided upon once the players have met with the grief counselors. Personally, well done, David Branch. Excellent decision.
Rest in peace, Terry. The battle you fought against so valiantly may have won today, but you'll always be remembered by all those who you've touched through the game. That's the sign of a true champion!
Until next time, raise your sticks high in honour of Terry Trafford!