© Daily Herald staff
nce again I have a lot of things to talk about, but what I have to start with is something that is starting to wear me down as yet again we have to say goodbye to someone at such a very young age.
I was devastated on Wednesday when I heard the news that Warren Harper had passed away at the age of 50. This is the second time in less than three months that someone I know right around my age has succumbed to cancer and it really bothers me.
We’re supposed to be in the prime of our lives and for these two wonderful people it was cut short before they could really enjoy it. It isn’t fair.
I’ve known Warren since we were young kids. His best friend was Bobby Lowes and our family and the Lowes family were good friends when we were younger. We used to go out to the Lowes’ family cabin at Clearsand Beach on Christopher Lake and the Harpers also had a cottage on that stretch of the lake so we spent a lot of time waterskiing and just hanging out.
We had another common bond and that was a love of hockey. Of course, Bobby and Warren were far better than I ever was and they went on to star with the Prince Albert Raiders and took the game even farther when their junior careers were done. Myself, I was just an average player who became a huge fan of both as they were fun to watch.
There were a number of years where I never saw Warren, but when we did see each other it was automatic that our friendship picked up where it left off. In later years we had a mutual friend that got us in the same company a bit more and I’m very thankful for that.
I remember when I first heard Warren was sick. We ran into each other at the bank and he broke down explaining what was going on. I was crushed! Later, when I heard he was trying some experimental drugs and it looked like they were working, my spirits were lifted.
The last time I saw him was at a retirement party last summer and he looked so good. We had such a nice visit and he was so full of optimism. I was positive he had beaten the disease, but that isn’t how it turned out.
Through another good friend I got updates on his health and knowing from what I had experienced with my other friend last year, I was praying for a miracle.
While Warren and I were never best friends we were close enough to share some pretty fond memories and I will cherish those forever. To his wife Monica and their four children, and grandson, I wish there were some words I could pass along to take away the pain. I know that isn’t possible, but Warren was blessed with a beautiful family and you are his legacy.
Rest in peace Warren!
• • •
The next thing I want to talk about is sure to cause a stir, but it has been nagging at me for a while now.
Are the Raiders throwing in the towel?
I may as well be blunt when I begin my analysis because this team should be far better than what they are doing right now.
In recent weeks they have lost games to the four worst teams in the league -- Kamloops, Saskatoon, Prince George and Lethbridge (twice). Those games should be automatic, but the Raiders continually get denied and now might not make the playoffs in a season where they were expected to challenge for a division title and even a conference banner.
The trades that were made this year looked pretty impressive when they were made and they did get quality players. The team just isn’t working together as a unit and that is where I think they have shut things down.
I wasn’t at the game on Monday against Prince George, but when I heard Jayden Hart and Reid Gardiner took shots at each other when they were leaving the ice, that is just unacceptable. Some might say it is out of frustration while others might see it as a sign that the players actually do care because they are getting in each other’s face to be better, but to do it right on the ice in front of the fans, well …
One thing that has come out of all of this is that the coaching change made last year was unnecessary. Last year’s team, while it struggled mightily in the stretch run, still made the post season. This year’s team has a lot of work to do to get to that point and they still have the very difficult tour of the U.S. Division coming up this month.
This is the way I see it. New coach Cory Clouston has the team so uptight about playing within their system and structure that the players are scared to make a mistake and have lost all creativity. You can see it numerous times in a game where a wide open man isn’t given the puck because that isn’t how the play was drawn up. I agree there should be structure, but it appears to me it is at the point of overkill.
I also don’t see assistant coaches Dave Manson and Tim Leonard having much input. I could be wrong on that account, but I’ve watched a few practices and they are off on the sides while Clouston runs the show. Manson and Leonard have so much to offer and should be utilized more.
I hope the players can put aside any differences they might have and regroup to make a run at the playoffs. They are a talented team and should be much farther up the standings than where they are now. Remember, you aren’t just playing for your teammates, but your are also playing for your fans.
• • •
Finally, I have to voice my displeasure in the federal government for their decision to close down eight veteran’s affairs offices in Canada.
We continually preach how proud we are of our veterans for sacrificing their lives to give us the freedoms we enjoy today and yet without any consultation they chose this area to trim costs.
It always amazes me that members of Parliament stand behind these decisions without voicing their disapproval. It is like Steven Harper runs the government with an iron fist and they adhere to what he has to say rather do what is in the best interest of the people they represent.
The same goes for the provincial government. I would like to know one thing that our MLAs have brought to Prince Albert that wasn’t already on a planned agenda.
I feel sorry for the veterans of these eight areas where there offices are being shut down. The government response was that there wasn’t enough business to warrant keeping them open and that for what they need, they can get on-line. That is just plain ignorant.
There aren’t many things in this world that are sacred, but honouring and supporting our veterans is one of them. Especially at a time when there are so many reports of veterans committing suicide.
Dave Leaderhouse is a reporter with the Prince Albert Daily Herald.