Commentary on the death of Terry Trafford


As shocking as it was to hear of police finally finding Terry Trafford’s body; I think all of us were hoping that the outcome of this dilemma would not be on the tragic. However when reports came out of Terry’s girlfriend saying that he had threatened to commit suicide, I knew right then that this story would not have a peaceful ending.

While at the time of writing this suicide has not been confirmed but obviously rather speculated, I am drawing the conclusion that Trafford did indeed take his own life. As he was in the public eye as a hockey player with the Ontario Hockey League’s Saginaw Spirit, his story is getting a little more attention. The fact is, this happens every day.

There are two things I’d like to talk about in this article. The first being depression. The teenage and early 20 years of one’s life is an internal struggle. More so now than ever before. There is an overwhelming societal desire to be the best in one’s life. While that is great to look at on paper and to think the fact is, not everybody is going to be the best. And you know what? That’s perfectly okay.

Society in this day and age throws things at you from every corner. You’re not good enough unless you have a college or university education. You have to be married and have kids by this age. You have to know exactly what you’re doing in life. If you don’t follow these things, you’re looked at as useless. It’s a broad spectrum that most of the media puts out there and after a while, it start to become a normal way to think.

Well, it’s not normal. It’s OKAY to not have a college degree, it’s OKAY if you’re not married, it’s OKAY if you don’t know what you’re doing with your life, it’s OKAY if you’re gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans, WHATEVER. Everyone has the right to feel normal without prejudice and live life at whatever pace you feel comfortable.

When it comes to hockey (and this is the second point of this article), we tend to put players on a pedestal. We tend to think “Oh wow, look at how great of a player he is, look at how much muscle he has, he’s a millionaire, he’s probably raking in all the women”, when in reality we don’t know the demons they’re going through personally. (See: Bob Probert.) And that’s more or less society’s fault. I don’t know Terry Trafford’s real story but from reports I’ve read, he seemed to have taken his life because he was afraid of never making the NHL. That’s sad.

We want our hockey players to be manmade machines. Hockey players are some of the fittest and stronger individuals on the planet. Are they mentally? Not by a long shot. They have a lot to live up to and in this day and age at a lot younger age than their predecessors. Team combines are just weeks and months of rigorous testing. That has to put a lot on the stress of a player mentally. (And maybe even physically, case in point Richard Peverley but that’s a whole other topic).

Not only on the ice but off the ice as well. Do you go to major junior? Do you go to school or turn pro? What school should I pick? What workouts should I do? 25 years ago, players didn’t have to worry about this. (Mind you it was a whole different time).

This has pretty much turned into a rant but I’m tired of watching the way we put hockey players (and athletes in general) on such a high pedestal and think everything must be peachy with them because they are living the dream and we aren’t. I’ll bet you good money that there players out there who would PAY to be the little man once again.

We need to throw more into mental health initiates. It’s getting better but it’s not over by a long shot. Not until society as a whole changes its outlook.