Let me first begin with the official press release by David Branch, Commissioner of the Ontario Hockey League:
On behalf of the Ontario Hockey League, our teams, players and staff I want to express our sincerest condolences to the family and friends of Terry Trafford. This is a tragic situation for all involved.
We will work closely with the Saginaw Spirit to provide any support required to the players and staff during this very difficult time. In addition, all of our teams will be offering support to their players.
I would like to thank investigators in both Ontario and Michigan, the media for informing the public and for all who provided information. We will cooperate fully with any investigations.
Earlier in the day, the Saginaw Spirit had released this statement:
It is with very heavy hearts that we announce that late this afternoon we were informed by the Michigan State Police that the body of Terry Trafford has been found.
Our deepest condolences are with Terry’s family and his friends both in Ontario and Michigan. Terry played on our team and was a member of the Spirit family for the last four years and he will be missed.
We have reached out to Terry’s parents and will look to provide them with support over the coming days. In addition, we met with team players and staff this evening, along with our Team Chaplain.
On behalf of the Spirit we would like to thank the police who were looking for Terry, the media for providing updates and all who provided information. The coming days will be difficult and we will endeavor to keep the community and media apprised of arrangements and other details.
The only opportunity I had to meet Mr Trafford was September 23, 2011 on opening night as his Saginaw Spirit visited the London Knights. I had a friend with me who wanted to bring her 6 year old daughter to her first hockey game. At the end of the game, I thought it would be a great idea to bring Steph down to the dressing room to meet some of the players.
But NO, Steph didn’t want to meet the London Knights who had just trounced the Spirit 8-0, she wanted to meet the Spirit. As the players immerged one by one with frowns on their faces after such a terrible defeat, out came a young, 17 year old Terry Trafford, who not only put a smile on his face for “a fan” but took several minutes of his time to talk to Steph and sign her poster.
There are plenty of stories about what happened in the last week leading up to yesterday’s news. It is not for me to judge, but with what Trafford’s father and girlfriend have said to the media, I can understand how someone could draw a conclusion. But there is a police investigation ongoing and we should allow the process take its course. We can, and should, hold off laying blame until that process is completed – if that is the route one wants to take.
There was an outpouring of shock, sadness and grieving from teammates, former teammates, opponents, media people and professional hockey players yesterday as the news broke, even when those were convinced that the outcome was going to be what it was.
Many of us have suffered tragedy in our lifetime, but few of us have had the tragedy of losing a son. And I hope that those of us that have never gone through that, never have to. First and foremost, that is who Trafford was, a son, a brother, a boyfriend, a teammate and a friend. What we say and what we type will have a great impact on those close to him, when we should be saying a prayer for them.
I for one will always remember Trafford as that teenager I met that September night.