stats
globeinteractive.com: Making the Business of Life Easier

   Finance globeinvestor   Careers globecareers.workopolis Subscribe to The Globe
The Globe and Mail /globeandmail.com
Home | Business | National | Int'l | Sports | Columnists | The Arts | Tech | Travel | TV | Wheels
space


Search

space
  This site         Tips

  
space
  The Web Google
space
   space



space

  Where to Find It


Breaking News
  Home Page

  Report on Business

  Sports

  Technology

space
Subscribe to The Globe

Shop at our Globe Store


Print Edition
  Front Page

  Report on Business

  National

  International

  Sports

  Arts & Entertainment

  Editorials

  Columnists

   Headline Index

 Other Sections
  Appointments

  Births & Deaths

  Books

  Classifieds

  Comment

  Education

  Environment

  Facts & Arguments

  Focus

  Health

  Obituaries

  Real Estate

  Review

  Science

  Style

  Technology

  Travel

  Wheels

 Leisure
  Cartoon

  Crosswords

  Food & Dining

  Golf

  Horoscopes

  Movies

  Online Personals

  TV Listings/News

 Specials & Series
  All Reports...

space

Services
   Where to Find It
 A quick guide to what's available on the site

 Newspaper
  Advertise

  Corrections

  Customer Service

  Help & Contact Us

  Reprints

  Subscriptions

 Web Site
  Advertise

  E-Mail Newsletters

  Free Headlines

  Globe Store New

  Help & Contact Us

  Make Us Home

  Mobile New

  Press Room

  Privacy Policy

  Terms & Conditions


GiveLife.ca

    

PRINT EDITION
FALLEN KNIGHTS: HOW IT ALL WENT WRONG FOR A B.C. TEAM
space
More than two years ago, a bench-clearing brawl sent minor-leaguers from Surrey and their coach into a downward spiral. Now, the team is dealing with an unprecedented 84-game losing streak and enduring a call to have its franchise disbanded
space
By DAVID EBNER
  
  

Email this article Print this article

space  Advertisement
space

Tuesday, November 14, 2017 – Page S1

SURREY -- Zakery Babin is under attack. Ten minutes after puck drop, the Surrey Knights goalie has been pelted by 15 shots. His team has not yet registered a single attempt on goal.

The Knights, in last place in the Pacific Junior Hockey League, are mired in an unprecedented losing skid that today stands at 84 games.

On this October evening in the Vancouver suburbs, Babin's agile play holds the score at zero against the defending league champion Aldergrove Kodiaks.

Midway through the game, a Kodiaks forward catapults Knights defenceman Ethan Koskelainen into the end boards from behind. Blood stains the ice.

While a trainer works on Koskelainen - the gash above the 18-yearold's right eye needs stitches and his left wrist might be fractured - there's a roar from the small crowd.

The Knights score on the power play to go up 1-0.

Koskelainen's mom wants to drive him to the hospital. His nose is dolloped in blood, a hockey Rudolph.

Another smear reddens his blond hair. "I'm fine," he tells his mom and insists he's staying to watch the rest of the game. Don Cherry would lionize this kid.

It was more than two years ago, September, 2015, when it started to go backward for the Knights. The team was losing to the Mission City Outlaws when the Outlaws went after a younger Knights player. A bench-clearing brawl ensued. Even the coaches got involved. John Craighead, the Knights coach, coowner and former minor-league tough guy, went to the Mission bench, intending to quell the fighting.

As the coaches jostled, an Outlaws player, not in uniform, intervened.

Craighead is alleged to have hit the player. The RCMP investigated but no charges were laid. BC Hockey, however, levied a suspension of six years. Under a pall - an exiled coach who'd once played a few games for the Toronto Maple Leafs - the Knights roster suffered defections and new players were reluctant to join the team. The on-ice product suffered. The last game the Knights won was on Nov. 19, 2015.

Last season, the Knights lost all 44 games. This past spring, Hockey Canada reviewed Craighead's sixyear suspension. It questioned the quality of BC Hockey's investigation and slashed Craighead's punishment. The PJHL then sought to expel the Knights franchise because it felt it tarnished the league. A league-organized hearing was held in August, but a decision was put on hold, as Craighead and the Knights had filed a civil suit in the Supreme Court of British Columbia to fight back to remain in the league. A complaint at the BC Human Rights Tribunal was also filed.

In the BC Supreme Court and the Human Rights Tribunal, Craighead will face the PJHL and its president, Ray Stonehouse. In a filing to the province's Human Rights Tribunal, it is alleged the efforts to punish Craighead and eject the Knights is "motivated, at least in part, by racial discrimination." Craighead is black and co-owner Amar Gill is Indo-Canadian.

Stonehouse declined comment.

George Cadman, the PJHL's lawyer, said a settlement was unlikely.

"This will undoubtedly proceed to court."

BC Hockey defends its suspension.

"Our investigation was a good investigation," BC Hockey chief executive Barry Petrachenko says.

Back at the North Surrey Recreational Centre, there is the possibility the losing streak could end. The Knights score again after their power-play goal. But as the second period ticks down, the Kodiaks strike with 12.7 seconds left to cut the lead to 2-1.

In a small conference room above and behind the Knights net, Craighead and Gill watch the game unfold.

"We're good hockey people," says Craighead, who was reinstated by Hockey Canada as team co-owner.

"Hockey's my life. Things got derailed. The franchise has paid a hefty price." Alongside the two owners is Laurence Gilman, a former Vancouver Canucks assistant general manager.

Gilman and Lorne Henning, another former Canucks executive, signed on in August to help the Knights with everything from management advice to mentoring coaches and players. It was an unlikely boost for a woebegone team.

"That's the best stretch we've played," Gilman says of the action on the ice, as the Knights hold their lead.

Tonight, Craighead, Gill and Gilman are having fun, joking and laughing, talking hockey. These guys, like the young men on the ice, love the game. Hockey nerds. The prospect of a win stokes the atmosphere. "I'd be very happy for the boys," Craighead says. Gilman foresees a difficult third period, as the Kodiaks stare at the ignominy of losing to the Surrey Knights. "This is going to be an onslaught."

The play on the ice has been sloppy and does not improve. The Knights' coaches, 23-year-old identical twin brothers Spencer and Scott McHaffie, are visibly agitated. The Kodiaks attack and tie the game.

With seven minutes on the clock, the Kodiaks score again to go ahead.

The momentum has turned, and Knights end up losing 5-3, their 79th loss in a row.

"Just not good enough," a deflated Gill says.

"Welcome to our world," Craighead says. "Well, you can write it was a close game."

In a cramped Knights locker room, the coaches rally. "Stay positive," Spencer McHaffie urges. "The way you guys are working, the way you guys are battling, it's only a matter of time."

The funk of losing dissipates and jocular camaraderie returns. The teenagers are laughing and shouting.

Outside the room, Koskelainen is ready to head to the hospital. "I don't think there's any reason to stop grinding," he says. "We have nothing to lose now. That's motivation for every game."

"Tiring - and frustrating," says Babin, 20, when asked what it's like to face 50-plus shots a night. "It would be nice to get a win."

Babin has played third-tier junior hockey in small towns in the B.C.

Interior and in Atlanta. He was hurt in a car accident last year and missed the season. But he got a chance to play again when the Knights called this summer. He hopes his play propels him to college hockey.

"The ideal school is the University of [Nevada] Las Vegas. That'd be cool," Babin says. "Or, literally, anywhere."

Constant losing has not yet worn him down.

"It's nice to be playing again," Babin says. "I'm not going to stop until it's not an option. It's still hockey, right?"

Associated Graphic

Surrey Knights goalie Zakery Babin looks on as North Vancouver Wolf Pack players celebrate a goal in Surrey, B.C., on Oct. 26.

DARRYL DYCK/THE GLOBE AND MAIL

Ethan Koskelainen of the Surrey Knights holds a towel to his head as trainer John Chwyl checks on him after he was cut above the eye and injured his wrist in a game in Surrey, B.C., on Oct. 19.

DARRYL DYCK/THE GLOBE AND MAIL


Huh? How did I get here?
Return to Main Leah_McLaren Page
Subscribe to
The Globe and Mail
 

Email this article Print this article

space  Advertisement
space

Need CPR for your RSP? Check your portfolio’s pulse and lower yours by improving the overall health of your investments. Click here.

Advertisement

7-Day Site Search
    

Breaking News



Today's Weather


Inside

Rick Salutin
Merrily marching
off to war
Roy MacGregor
Duct tape might hold
when panic strikes


Editorial
Where Manley is going with his first budget




space

Columnists



For a columnist's most recent stories, click on their name below.

 National


Roy MacGregor arrow
This Country
space
Jeffrey Simpson arrow
The Nation
space
Margaret Wente arrow
Counterpoint
space
Hugh Winsor  arrow
The Power Game
space
 Business


Rob Carrick arrow
Personal Finance
space
Drew Fagan arrow
The Big Picture
space
Mathew Ingram arrow
space
Brent Jang arrow
Business West
space
Brian Milner arrow
Taking Stock
space
Eric Reguly arrow
To The Point
space
Andrew Willis arrow
Streetwise
space
 Sports


Stephen Brunt arrow
The Game
space
Eric Duhatschek arrow
space
Allan Maki arrow
space
William Houston arrow
Truth & Rumours
space
Lorne Rubenstein arrow
Golf
space
 The Arts


John Doyle arrow
Television
space
John MacLachlan Gray arrow
Gray's Anatomy
space
David Macfarlane arrow
Cheap Seats
space
Johanna Schneller arrow
Moviegoer
space
 Comment


Murray Campbell arrow
Ontario Politics
space
Lysiane Gagnon arrow
Inside Quebec
space
Marcus Gee arrow
The World
space
William Johnson arrow
Pit Bill
space
Paul Knox arrow
Worldbeat
space
Heather Mallick arrow
As If
space
Leah McLaren arrow
Generation Why
space
Rex Murphy arrow
Japes of Wrath
space
Rick Salutin arrow
On The Other Hand
space
Paul Sullivan arrow
The West
space
William Thorsell arrow
space





Home | Business | National | Int'l | Sports | Columnists | The Arts | Tech | Travel | TV | Wheels
space

© 2003 Bell Globemedia Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Help & Contact Us | Back to the top of this page