Thursday, November 5, 2009

Smokies "Boost" Halloween Spirits


Those of you who live in Trail may have already seen this editorial from Trail Times Sports Editor Guy Bertrand. He wrote about an e-mail the Smokies received from the owner of Booster Juice in Quesnel. This is the kind of story that is all too often forgotten or ignored when we talk about the ins and outs of this great game. Guy has sent me the article and given me permission to run it on the blog and on the Smokies website. It also appears he has pretty good taste in radio stations...

Players prove good things happen to good people

By Guy Bertrand (Trail Times November 4th)

The news of the Trail Smoke Eaters’ success during its weekend northern road trip found its way back to Trail pretty quickly thanks to Shawn Mullin’s radio play-by-play and the information highway.

But the news of how the Smokies conducted themselves off the ice traveled even faster.

It’s not the first time I’ve received feedback from outside our little hockey world on how the team conducts itself when it’s on the road.

The most memorable for me was a few years ago when the team collected its leftovers from a big feast in Victoria and doled them out to the homeless people sheltered in the alleys of B.C.’s capital.

While such a grand and selfless gesture was certainly worthy of mentioning, perhaps the team’s comportment on the weekend in Quesnel says more about the entire organization – top to bottom.

Needless to say it hasn’t been that great of a start to the season for the Orange and Black. And every bleacher coach and general manager has an idea on what the team should’ve done, could’ve done and can do to make it better.

But according to Quesnel’s Nicole England, the team is definitely on the right track when it comes to representing Trail and conducting itself in the type of fashion we all want to see from local teams.

England owns a store called Booster Juice, a health-oriented drink store. It’s a store frequented by just about every athlete passing through town, most notably BCHL teams.

Yet England couldn’t help but gush over each and every Smoke Eater who was in her store on the weekend.

In Quesnel, there’s a Halloween tradition where young kids go to various businesses in town and collect their treats. It happened again on Saturday just when the entire Smoke Eaters lineup was in the Booster Juice to get a helping of fruit drinks.

“The little kids started coming in for trick or treating and they (the players) all basically told each other to move out of the way so the kids could get their candy,” said England.

“They all stepped aside, which you rarely actually see. We have regular customers that would never actually do that.”

Seldom does she witness the type of manners and respect displayed by the Smokies, who happened to be in her store three times over the weekend.

“We get a lot of hockey teams that come through here and they are not usually like that. Even with our own hockey team there are a few that we get that are quite rude or not very appreciative.

“So it’s nice to see a whole group that all say thank you and very polite in the store.

“It’s a good reflection on the coaching staff as well. They must put into the boys that when you’re on the road to be respectful wherever you go.”

When England relayed the story to her mom, she quickly e-mailed Smoke Eaters president Tom Gawryletz to share her daughter’s positive experience.

Fans, and sports writers for that matter, focus too often on wins and losses. So when a morale victory like this is achieved it certainly deserves recognition.

Perhaps the next time the Smokies are struggling and the record doesn’t reflect what fans want, it might be an opportunity to rethink why we support the team.

Only one great team gets a championship at the end of the season but a group great people can look like champions off the ice all season long.

Just something to ponder when deciding if you should go to a game or not.

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