Thursday, May 29, 2014

Jarry Leaves Lasting Impression in Portland

A gesture from Edmonton Oil Kings goaltender Tristan Jarry to a young boy helped create new fans from the most unlikely place on Earth; Portland. 

The night was May 9th. The Oil Kings and Portland Winterhawks had just competed fiercely for 60 minutes in the 5th game of their epic WHL Final. The game was at the Moda Center in front of nearly 11,000 ridiculously passionate fans who did all they could that night to urge their team to victory. But it was the visiting team from Edmonton that prevailed, a 3-2 win giving the eventual WHL champions their first lead in the series. 

Jarry was unreal in the game. The Penguins 2nd rounder stopped 37 of 39 shots, many of which appeared to be sure goals. The Oil Kings netminder was name a game star for his effort which set the stage for the big moment many never saw. 

The rest of the story after the jump.

In Portland, as in a few other WHL cities, the 3-star selection involves some level of fan participation. In this case, each player comes back to the ice when his name is announced, skates to one end and poses for a photograph with a young fan. I don't know if it's the case every time but during the WHL final, it was always a child in the range of 3-8 years old. 

The third star that night was Mathew Dumba who had scored with just under two minutes remaining in the game. Obviously downtrodden after the loss, there was the obligatory pose and off the player skated.  It was the same with Paul Bittner who was chosen as the first star; skate on ice, pose, leave. And no one should hold that against them - I can't think of a player happy after a loss. 

But it was a different story with the second star of the game; Tristan Jarry. 

Edmonton's goalie came back onto the ice and didn't immediately know what was expected of him; there is no such tradition in Edmonton for the game stars. He was directed to skate to the carpet at the far end of the rink where a young boy was standing. 

Photo: Scott Wilson
As Jarry approached the youngster, he towered over him at what must have seemed like an imposing size. Jarry is 6'2 off the ice and here he was with his skates and all his gear still on. The boy, proudly wearing his Portland Winterhawks sweater, needed a little coaxing from the photographer to get closer to the big goalie. He did and the picture was taken, all according to plan.

Photo: Scott Wilson
What came next was a surprise. 

Jarry gave the boy his stick. The young lad, not sure what to do and barely able to hold the heavy stick, eventually dragged it off the carpet where his father was waiting for him. 

I tweeted about the scene as it unfolded:

The WHL on Shaw broadcast crew was on the ice waiting to interview Jarry. The goalie answered a few questions from Stu Walters, turned back to find the boy, spotted him and then skated over to him. Once he got there he bent on one knee to sign the stick.

Photo: Scott Wilson
Jarry skated across the ice on his path through the Oil Kings bench and off to the dressing room to a terrific round of applause. The fans who had stuck around and saw the moment were impressed by his gesture. 

By the time Corey Graham and I were done with our post game show, the press conferences with both teams were long over and most of the media had cleared out. Corey and I were chatting with Paul Owen, the Oil Kings Communications Manager, when I spotted the boy and his family, his grin still extending from ear to ear. 

In the time between meeting Jarry on the ice and my seeing them after the game, the entire team had taken the time to sign the stick for the family.

The story gets better. 

The next day I received this reply to the tweet from above:

Bauer's mom, Jenna, took a minute to publicly thank the Oil Kings organization for going the extra distance. And, if you take a second to look at her Twitter account, you'll figure out that not only is Jenna mother to Bauer but she's also Tom-a-hawk, the mascot of the Winterhawks!

Sometime after Game 5 and before Game 7, the Oil Kings received an email from Scott Wilson, Bauer's father. With his permission, this is a transcript of what he wrote:
My family and I attended game 5 at the Moda center on Friday 5/9. Our 3 year old son (Bauer) was selected for the third star after the game.
I want to complement the CLASS of your team.
Tristan Jarry gave my son his goalie stick after the picture. Tristan came out with a smile and after the picture and his TV interview, Tristan came back over and signed his goalie stick for my son. He showed a lot of class and respect.
After the three stars we walked down to the Oil Kings locker room and asked your team personal if we could have the whole team sign Tristan's goalie stick that he gave my son. Your team and personal were very professional with this request. Oil Kings team members come out a couple at a time with a smile and signed the stick. After all the players signed the stick a team personal came out and informed us that was all the players.
We thanked him for taking his time and each player for going out of their way to sign my son's goalie stick that Tristan Jarry gave him. It showed us that the Oil Kings have a lot of class and respect, especially for a family that are Winterhawk fans. All your team personal and players were very friendly and took the time to talk with us a bit while they signed. We greatly appreciate what Tristan and your team did for my son. Oil Kings have a lot of class.
Can you please pass this message on to your team and staff and let them know we are thankful for what they did? We greatly appreciate them taking time to fulfill our request.
Best of luck to the Oil Kings team on Sunday in game 6.

Wilson family
The Winterhawks won game 6 in Edmonton forcing a 7th and deciding game back in Portland the very next day. We got to the Veteran's Memorial Coliseum, as usual, a couple of hours before the game and one of the first people I ran into was Jenna. We spoke briefly, I met Scott and they recounted their experience from Game 5. They also told me that Bauer was Jarry's new number one fan. 

That's when I asked Scott if he'd mind if I posted a copy of his email to the team and both he and Jenna agreed. 

"That's why we did it, we were hoping it would become public," she told me. 

I'd meant to write this blog upon our return from Portland but with Edmonton winning Game 7 and the Ed Chynoweth Cup at the same time, a flight to London Ontario for the Memorial Cup became the priority.  

Now back from that tournament and wanting to write about that experience, I didn't want to put this story off any longer. I contacted Scott one more time to see if he'd happened to snap any photos of that day and, as you can tell from above, he did. 

In Scott's reply email he also mentioned this:

"Congrats to the Oil Kings and staff on there Memorial Cup win!!! What a game and series the Kings had. We were cheering the Oil Kings on from Portland and followed them through there Memorial Cup Series. All I can say is the Oil Kings wanted that cup and were the better team! They played great hockey!

Each Memorial Cup game we watched our son Bauer yelled out "There's Jarry, I have his stick!!" He's a happy boy thanks to Tristan Jarry.

I'm going to make a shadow box with Jarry's goalie stick and some Oil Kings memorabilia to hang on the wall for our son to remember that day. That just doesn't happen on a daily basis. Just shows you the class, professionalism and respect the Oil Kings have especially when it was an opposing fan and town. Better yet what the team did after the game buy coming out and signing the stick for us. 
Thanks again, 
The Wilson family,
Scott, Jenna, Bauer
Photo: Scott Wilson
I've been fortunate throughout May to have traveled with the Oil Kings and in doing so, have really gotten a behind the scenes look at the organization. I can tell you that what Jarry did, although exceptional, is not unique for this team.

At the Memorial Cup in London, Mitch Moroz won over some local fans with his ritual of tossing pucks over the glass at the end of warm up:

Getting to and from our hotel to Bud Gardens saw us taking tournament provided shuttles driven by volunteers. The players also took the shuttles into town on off days for shopping excursions. Several times we were told by our shuttle drivers that the players were conducting themselves in a very respectable and professional manner. 

Many times we hear about players acting selfishly or rudely. Some seem to have a sense of entitlement about them. It's great to see first hand that there are those who still understand the importance of respect and how to act with class. 

I appreciate the Wilson family's effort to publicize that Tristan Jarry and the Oil Kings fall into the latter category. 


Anonymous said...

Wow!!! I love stories like this. It goes to show that no matter what level of play they are in, they are always under the public eye and their actions resonate with the fans. Every gesture no matter how big or small makes an impact. Good to know the Oil Kings conduct themselves accordingly. This will take them far in their careers and life. Hockeychild99

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful article. I have a gut feeling that a similar article would have been written about the Winterhawks. Both Edmonton and Portland have class operations. No wonder they have met for the whl championship the past 3 years

Anonymous said...

My wife and I drove over from Spokane for game 5 (and as it turned out 7) and I witnessed this gesture by Jarry and it really was a truely classy moment. For me it was somewhat full circle moment as at one of my first WHL games, back when the Buckaroos roamed, their coach Hal Laycoe invited me into the dressing room between periods. He gave me a puck that I have to this day. Game 7 was held at Veterans Memorial where the Buckaroos plied their trade and I thought back to how that young fan might look back in 45 years as I have and grin ear to ear yet again. A true journalist wrote this story, Thank you Guy.

Guy Flaming said...

This was emailed to me...

Guy, I love your show and appreciate the effort you put into your show.

Along with a fellow winterhawks fan I have a podcast that we do, called Pucklandia. But thats not why I'm emailing you. I read your article on the class of the Oil Kings organization, and I to have a great story about them.

As the subject line reads, I'm the guy who in games 1 or 2 was broadcasted by Shaw and commented on by Dan Russel for giving Mitch Moroz an ear full while he was in the penalty box. That is something I love to do is just try to chirp the boys, get in there head and try to distract them a little. In which the boys also have some fun and chirp back and so on. Well Moroz wasn't any different he had some good fine words for me, as did Cody Corbett, and Henrik Samuelsson. As most hawks fans cant stand Samuelsson he was actually a funny kid that was all for chirping back! It was a good time during all the home games for the hawks.

Well before game 7, I walked into the coliseum and came across the oil kings playing soccer, it could of gotten ugly as it was me, and the 3 kids I was chirping every opportunity I got. Instead I walked by and all said, "you ready for tonight?" Of course I had chirp a little back. But of course while I'm walking quickly by. During pre game skate more chirping, and after the game, and oil kings win the game. Moroz comes up the glass Where I am sitting and he starts to laugh and point at me. Which at that point I didn't blame him, because for 4 home games I was ripping into him. Well after the cup presentation and all that good stuff I was still standing there watching along with a few hundred fans, because it's not everyday you see a championship celebration even if it is the other team celebrating on your ice. Well Samuelsson got his stick, skated over to me, handed me the stick. I was shocked as it wasn't something I asked for. I do collect sticks from opponents so it worked out great! Then Corbett came over and gave his stick to me. Still shocked that they had so much class, and willing to give a guy who was chirping them the whole season there sticks. Then Moroz was the last guy on the ice. Still standing there I asked one of the scratches who was standing next to him to get his attention, he looked at me and you could tell he was curious what I wanted, but he skated over, shook my hand, apologized to chirping at me, in which I replied it was all in good fun go win the cup and bring it back to the WHL. After that I went down towards the locker rooms to say goodbye to some hawks, I came across Samuelsson and Corbett who wear calling there girlfriends or parents, but both were on the phone, both took the time to sign my sticks and shake my hand. While I was standing there several oil kings came out and getting onto bus to leave, all of them shook my hand and appreciated what passion and dedication I had for the hawks.

I know it was a long email but I just wanted to agree with what you seen with Jarry and express my gratitude I have for the oil kings and those players! All class acts...

Love the show and keep up the great work!!

Penalty box guy.