Thursday October 30, 2014




Suicide of Melville player rocks SJHL

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Saturday's news that former Melville Millionaire Andre Parker had passed away quickly made its way through SJHL circles.

On Monday, Parker's parents, Leo and Sharon, announced through the league's website that their son had committed suicide and had been fighting depression.

It's a stark reminder that mental health issues can affect anyone, no matter their age or lot in life, and no matter how well things appear to be going for them.

I never met Parker, but by all accounts he was a fine young man who decided halfway through last season to leave the Millionaires and begin his post-secondary education at the University of Saskatchewan.

The 19-year-old winger and defenceman was known more for his toughness than his scoring prowess, recording 165 penalty minutes and 13 points over a year and a half with his hometown Millionaires.

I truly hope that something good comes out of this tragedy, and that would be people suffering through depression or suicidal thoughts knowing that help is available.

Along with developing hockey players, most, if not all SJHL teams now provide some form of an educational adviser for their players. Ensuring their well-being and providing resources to help with mental health issues must also be a priority.

Athletes are not immune to depression; in fact, they may be more vulnerable to it with the pressures that come along with their sport, particularly in the junior hockey world.

***

I'm starting to think Estevan Motor Speedway is built over an ancient burial ground.

It's hard to believe that the local race track has already had to postpone more races this year than in the entire flood-filled 2011 season, but it's true.

It's not as if the city has been deluged by constant rain this spring, although the last week has not been pleasant.

The track just has awful timing this year, as it seems to rain on every race day.

On two of the scheduled dates, the track was greeted with a beautiful day, only to see the rain come down in buckets later on.

For the love of all that is good and holy, let's hope that next Friday's races are a go.

***

The pundits and fans can analyze each group to death before a major international soccer event, but the group stage rarely goes according to plan.

Invariably, some contenders crash out early and some underdogs manage to squeak through, but usually the class of the tournament shines through in the end.

And so it goes at Euro 2012 in Poland and Ukraine.

The group stage wrapped up Tuesday with France, England and Ukraine still alive to earn one of two Group D spots in the quarter-finals.

So far we've seen Greece beat out Russia for the second spot in Group A on a tie-breaker, and the Dutch go winless in a performance that was completely bereft of the creativity shown by the team that went to the final at the 2010 World Cup.

Sure, the Dutch were in the Group of Death alongside Germany, Portugal and Denmark, but they clearly were not on the same level as the Germans and Portuguese.

Even against the underdog Danes, the Oranje showed no finishing ability and went down to defeat.
Group C went largely as expected, although Spain needed a last-minute goal against Croatia to ensure a trip to the quarters, and Italy advanced despite winning only one game.

The quarter-finals begin tomorrow and continue into the weekend, with the Czech Republic facing Portugal and Germany taking on Greece.

Spain will play the second seed in Group D and Italy will play the first seed.

I can't stand Portugal, but the Czechs were lucky to advance and will be over their heads, particularly if captain Tomas Rosicky is unavailable.

Ditto for the Greeks, who pulled off a feel-good story reminiscent of their magical Euro 2004 run, but are severely overmatched against Germany, who have been the most impressive side in the tournament so far.

For those who don't pay any attention to soccer, I now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.

Josh Lewis can be reached by phone at 634-2654, by e-mail at spo...@estevanmercury.ca, on Twitter at twitter.com/joshlewis306 or on his Bruins Banter blog at estevanmercury.ca/bruinsbanter. Just don't disturb him during the NHL draft this weekend.


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