Editor’s note: This is the third in a five-part series of features acknowledging those behind-the-scenes people who work or volunteer with the Prince Albert Raiders. Without these people the Raiders would not be nearly as successful as they are and it is with great pride the Daily Herald salutes these people.
Duane Bartley is a man of few words, but he is certainly a man of many actions.
The Prince Albert Raider trainer is in his 12th season with the Western Hockey League club and head coach Steve Young says Bartley’s role is essential for the club to be successful.
“He’s very valuable to the hockey club,” says Young. “He wears a lot of hats and is very loyal to the Prince Albert Raiders. He is someone you want on your side.”
The title of trainer actually glazes over the duties of what Bartley, or “Puff” as he is called among his peers, does each and every day. Bartley is the athletic therapist and equipment manager which, when broken down, encompasses everything from caring for player ailments to taking care of equipment to sharpening skates and ordering supplies.
“It’s something I learned over time,” says Bartley. “I was thrown into the fire in the SJHL (Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League).”
Originally from Killarney, Man., Bartley went to North Dakota State University where he studied athletic therapy. From there he went to the Kindersley Klippers of the SJHL and after four seasons with that organization, he made the move to Prince Albert and has been here ever since.
Bartley, who is married and has two children, aged nine and 11, has become very proficient in his role with the team and despite some of the hours he has to work he enjoys everything about his job.
“The players are all a good group of guys and it is a nice place to come to work every day,” says Bartley. “The last couple of years were tough, but this year is one of the ‘up’ years so it’s nice to see both sides.”
From an athletic therapist’s point of view it has been a very simple year for Bartley as the Raiders have managed to play two thirds of the season with just a few “minor” injuries. There are always the daily aches and pains that need attention, but so far the Raiders have escaped any major ailments that have haunted other teams such as the Regina Pats, who are in the 200-plus game range for players who have been forced to be scratched from the line-up.
Bartley is at the rink early every day getting ready for practises and stays late, especially on game days, tending to the players and getting ready for the next day. When on the road he is even busier as he often has to do chores normally done by other staff members who don’t travel with the team.
Still, Bartley can’t imagine doing anything else and the Raiders certainly would be lost without him.