After a week in intensive care at a Saskatoon hospital, former Weyburn Red Wings centre Graham Christie died yesterday as a result of an injury received in an SJHL game on Nov. 18.
Christie, a member of the Nipawin Hawks, suffered brain damage after his heart stopped when he attempted to block a shot during a game in Humboldt and was struck in the chest by the puck. The 20-year-old forward immediately collapsed and was taken to Royal University Hospital in Saskatoon.
He was taken off life-support equipment on Sunday but never regained consciousness, passing away early Tuesday afternoon.
A native of Grenfell, his injury and tragic death this week left fans, friends and former teammates in Weyburn stunned and saddened. The Red Wings dedicated Tuesday night's home game against Notre Dame to their former teammate and announced that public donations to assist Christie's family are being accepted at the Bank of Montreal branch in Weyburn and other branches throughout the rest of the province.
Contributions to the 'Graham Christie Family Fund' can also be made at the Colosseum during Friday night's home game against Kindersley. In addition, a special ceremony is tentatively being planned for this Tuesday's home game with the Nipawin Hawks.
Oddly enough, Greg Bobbitt and Linda Rudachyk - with whom Christie lived last year - both described him as a humble young man who disliked the limelight and would have shunned such attention.
"Most hockey players tend to be extroverted and rambunctious. Graham was just the opposite, very quiet and reserved," Mr. Bobbitt said yesterday.
On the ice, Christie was a key member of the Red Wings last year, scoring 27 goals and 18 assists during 62 appearances in the 1996-97 regular season. During the playoffs he went on to help the Wings win both the league championship and the Anavet Cup.
Off the ice, he left a far more indelible impression on those around him - evidenced by the generosity of Weyburn fans, who donated over $3,000 to his family fund at the Colosseum yesterday.
"What amazes me is the number of people this quiet, mature young man touched," Mr. Bobbitt noted. "He was a very mature, decent human being he'd be the type of son most fathers would want."
Red Wings head coach Dwight McMillan admitted that he was at a loss for words and expressed condolences for Christie's family following a very sombre post-game meeting with his team last night.
"There's great sorrow in there for those young guys. They all loved him," he said. "It's a sad, sad moment for us all. It's terrible."
Despite playing with the Weyburn club for only a single season, Christie will nevertheless be remembered as a person of "great character" and who earned the respect of his teammates, McMillan said.
"He never asked for anything special. He just went out
and did his job."
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