Jealousy of Knights organization causes hate of late
Published Friday, May 23, 2014 2:33PM EDT
The London Knights have had abuse heaped on them from some Londoners, other hockey clubs and certainly hockey fans from other cities,
After their Memorial Cup loss on Wednesday that knocked the team out of the tournament, there was glee from many corners.
"What has London done to give the other teams, their fans, a reason to hate them so much?" wondered Taylor Choma on Twitter.
Longtime London Knights trainer Don Brankley (Branks) says the losses and now the hate-in, are all so sad.
"A lot of people are jealous of this organization. The city should be very proud of them."
Brankley says the Knights won with honour in the past and is disappointed a couple of opponents have acted shamefully.
"One thing I will say is when we won in 2005, our team had a lot of class."
He's not impressed with players like Guelph's Tyler Bertuzzi and Edmonton's Luke Bertolucci, who taunted Knights fans after scoring goals against London.
Bertuzzi should have won "an academy award," he says, for laying on the ice after a hit by Nikita Zadorov, who was issued a penalty.
Bertuzzi promptly returned to the ice for his shift shortly after.
"It's almost an embarrassment to the league," Brankley says of Bertuzzi's performance.
"I know a couple of hockey people that weren't impressed. His stock went down."
Brankley says he has talked to a couple of London players and offered consolation to them about going 0-3 in the Cup.
"It will get better and you'll remember the good times."
It's been six years since the trainer left the building.
He spent many nights in the bowels of the John Labatt Centre (now Budweiser Gardens).
But it's as if he never left.
Branks has been late to every event he's involved in as part of the Memorial Cup festivities.
People just won't stop talking to him. Everywhere he goes he gets the handshake and a fond, "How are you?"
"I'm really flattered. People stop and say hello. It's phenomenal.
"I'm a great believer that if someone wants to acknowledge you as a person, you have a duty to stop and chat with them and make them feel as special as they've made you feel," he says. "I'm just over the moon."
He spent a couple of days with Brendan Shanahan, a former Knight and NHL executive, who is now president of the Maple Leafs and has visited with other Knights alumni, including Billy Carroll, who won three Stanley Cups with the Islanders.
Carroll gave Branks a sweater from one of those Cup wins. (I'm so jealous).
To offer some insight into the kind of man Branks is, he sent a card to Zach Bell, after the Knights' defenceman broke his leg in a playoff game against Windsor at the end of March.
"I wrote in there, 'I know you're in a dark place right now, but I was with Dino Cicerrelli when he broke his leg and he came back and went into the hall of fame. There is hockey after these injuries."
Bell saw Branks at the gala at the start of the Cup and came over to thank him.
And Bell made it back to play in the Memorial Cup.
"I wish a little bit of a different trainer than some," Branks acknowledges.
"My players were my life. They knew I cared about them. I told them, 'I can be your best friend or there worst enemy.'
"They trusted me and they would tell me their secrets. They would tell me things that they would never tell the coach."
Reaction to Knights loss on Twitter
TriciaMilitia @trishdish1942 20h
Still in a happy fog about the #Knights going 0-3 at the #MemCup
The Toast @toast84
Yesssssss, YESSSSSSSSSSS, LET THE HATE FLOW THROUGH YOU LONDON! BOO THESE KNIGHTS!
@JacksLondon! You're still champs in our books!!
Andrew Bruce @brucie_70 May 22 @JacksLondon @GoKnightsGuy umm can i ask what kinda champs ? Bahaha
Can't make it to the Brett Kissel concert Saturday at Budweiser Gardens? You can still catch him at the Val-d'Or-Edmonton semi Friday. He'll be singing the national anthem.
Blow-up hockey big
The Hache family of Newmarket spent a couple of days in London to take in Memorial Cup activities.
Sons Braden and Cameron took to the blow-up hockey pad at FanFest and crashed around and checked each other mercilessly as brothers do.
Mom Tracey Hache says the event has been remarkable.
"I think they've done an amazing job," she says. "There's something for everyone. "The Cup can make you a hockey fan, even if you don't know a lot about hockey."
Rob Brown is co-chair of the transportation unit charged with transporting officials, media and other personnel to their destinations around the city.
His team was called into quick action earlier in the tournament when the Val-d'Or players' bus broke down. Several Dodge Caravans were dispatched to the scene and picked up the stranded players.
Brown says there are about 30 Caravans employed by his 68 volunteers. There are another six working in dispatch. "They're dedicated," he says.
Brown's days start at 7 a.m. and he works till midnight every night. Long shifts, but he doesn't mind. He knows the need for efficiency and he credits the team for its commitment.
"We just want everything to go right," he says.
Brown first volunteered for London sporting events with the 2001 Canada Games. At that time he was on the organizing committee involved with security.