The OHL says it will conduct a review of how it handled Terry Trafford’s suspension and the subsequent search that ended in tragedy when his body was found in Michigan on Tuesday.
The Toronto-born Saginaw Spirit player disappeared on March 3 after he was sent home by the Spirit for violating team rules, reportedly for smoking marijuana.
His body was found on Tuesday night inside a truck at the parking lot of a Walmart store in Saginaw County’s Saginaw Township.
Before the grim discovery his father spoke to CityNews and questioned the OHL’s support system.
“There’s nowhere to turn to because it’s a team thing,” Roy Trafford said on Sunday. “‘What happens in Saginaw stays in Saginaw. We’ll handle it.’ Well they didn’t handle this one.”
OHL Commissioner David Branch said Wednesday that he couldn’t comment on specifics of the case until an investigation is complete, but said, “The support systems are all (in place).”
He added that neither the league nor the team was aware of any mental health issues.
“This is a matter under police investigation. We respect that and there’s going to be a lot of information that will inevitably come forward,” Branch said from Buckingham Arena in Toronto where the 2014 OHL Cup Showcase Tournament is taking place.
Branch said the league bears some responsibility for the well-being of the teens and young men who often leave their families and hometowns to pursue their hockey dreams.
“We bear that burden,” he told CityNews. “They come to our league. They come to our communities.”
Trafford’s father also complained that the team didn’t communicate the situation to him, and said they stopped looking for the veteran player because they believed he had returned home to Canada and it wasn’t their responsibility to continue looking for him.
“They didn’t even tell me why they sent him home,” said Roy Trafford.
Trafford, a centre, spent four seasons with the Spirit.
“This was his life,” his dad said.
Trafford’s girlfriend, Skye Cieszlak, told The Saginaw News that he “was devastated” after the team sent him home.
She said Trafford sent her a text message Sunday that said, “his life was over and that he didn’t want to do it anymore.”
With files from The Canadian Press