Thursday, October 15, 2009

More Fleury

CALGARY — There are nine people pictured in the front row of the Moose Jaw Warriors' official 1984-85 team photograph, but only eight are named.

Theoren Fleury doesn't need anyone to tell him the identity of the man sandwiched between assistant coach Cam Ftoma and captain Mark MacKay, who is referred to simply as 'coach.'

But he'd sure like to know whether some of the other people in the photograph, from the trainer to the assistant coach, knew the truth about Graham James, the coach Fleury claims sexually molested him from the age of 14.

"I will always ask myself, did our trainer Stan Szumiak know? Or the assistant coach, Cam Ftoma? He says he was shocked when he found out. How about the director of marketing, Bill Harris — did he suspect anything? I dunno," says Fleury in his tell-all book, Playing With Fire.

"One thing I know is that I was a naive 16-year-old kid living away from home, and they were all grown men, and not one of them came to me and said, 'Kid, is there anything you would like to tell me?' "

Ftoma, who now works as a mortgage specialist in Winnipeg, told the Herald he doesn't want to talk about James.

"I just don't want to go down that road again. Theoren and I have discussed it," he said. "Nobody knew other than obviously what was happening back then."

Bill Harris, who now owns a financial services firm in Moose Jaw, is on a business trip overseas and didn't return calls. Szumiak couldn't be reached for comment.

Barry Trapp, the general manager of that 1984 team, decided to force out James when he became suspicious of his coach's relationships with some of his players, a move that made him extremely unpopular in Moose Jaw. James' power and influence was such, said Trapp, that it's entirely possible no one else suspected anything.

"When I was in Moose Jaw I never heard it come up. I was the first one that raised the flag," said Trapp. "If anybody was aware of it in or had suspicions, nobody came to me and told me."

Trapp said although he's happy he voiced concerns about James, he wishes things had worked out differently.

"I sent Theo an e-mail yesterday," said Trapp. "I always had an open-door policy with my players. I wish he'd come to me and we could have nipped it in the bud right there and then.

"Other people probably had suspicions but nobody wanted to come out. (James) could have run for mayor. He was a media darling. He had people just completely fooled."

One of Fleury's teammates that season was Kent Hayes, who didn't question James' conduct at the time.

"Away from the rink, he didn't really have a whole lot to do with the older players. Maybe in hindsight now, 25 years later, obviously there's maybe some reasons why," said Hayes, who came to Moose Jaw as a 19-year-old and today owns a construction business in Calgary.

"Did I think he was maybe a bit of a different character? Well, maybe. When all of the Sheldon Kennedy stuff came out (revelations of sexual abuse at the hands of James) you could say, well yeah, maybe he did hang out in the dressing room more than most. To be honest it was a shock to me, what was going on."

In his book, Fleury also questioned why the league didn't investigate any suspicions surrounding James.

"Dev Dley, who was the commissioner of the Western Hockey League, is quoted as saying that no one filed an official complaint, so the league didn't investigate," wrote Fleury. "Uh-huh. If the league indeed really knew of the suspicions about Moose Jaw, I find it incredible that without an official complaint it would simply turn a blind eye."

Dley, who was appointed to the bench of the British Columbia Provincial Court in Kamloops in 2008, declined to comment.

Moose Jaw Mayor Dale McBain hopes his community can move on from the James scandal.

"A number of years ago there was the Sheldon Kennedy revelation about Graham James. I guess there was a ripple through the community then and I imagine it will be the same thing again with the Fleury revelation," he said.

No comments:

Post a Comment