‘Once a Raider, always a Raider’

The Prince Albert Raiders present the Herold family with Adam Herold's number 34 during a stop in Montmartre on December 6, 2018. (Brad Brown/Quad Town Forum/Special to the Herald)

The Prince Albert Raiders made an emotional stop in Montmartre Thursday to pay tribute to a former teammate and friend

By Brad Brown, Quad Town Forum

Special to the Herald

Even as a player that some in the hockey world had projected as not only a future Prince Albert Raiders captain, but a future NHL captain as well, Adam Herold felt there were other leaders he could still learn plenty from.

Current Raiders alternate captain Parker Kelly was one of them.

En route from Swift Current to Brandon, Kelly and his teammates stopped Thursday in Herold’s hometown of Montmartre, visiting with staff and students, sharing stories about Herold, presenting jerseys to the school principal and Herold’s family, and skating with local students afterward at the Montmartre Arena.

Herold, a second-round Western Hockey League bantam draft pick of the Raiders in 2016, was among the 16 people killed as a result of the April 6 collision between the Humboldt Broncos team bus and a semi-trailer as the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League team was en route to Nipawin for a junior A playoff game.

Ahead of Thursday’s Montmartre visit Herold’s dad Russell had shared that, in Adam’s short time with Prince Albert, he had particularly looked up to Kelly who went undrafted in 2017 — his first year of NHL eligibility — but went on that summer to sign a free agent contract anyway with the Ottawa Senators. (Most undrafted free agents don’t sign with pro clubs — if at all — until after their over-age junior seasons.)

The Prince Albert Raiders, including Parker Kelly, front left, sign autographs in Montmartre on December 6, 2018. (Brad Brown/Quad Town Forum/Special to the Herald)

Told of Herold’s admiration for Kelly, Raiders coach Marc Habscheid joked “I don’t know why.”

But in all seriousness, Kelly echoed the sentiments of many who have been close to the team over the last couple of years.

“(He was) just a down-to-Earth kid. Such a great kid, great attitude,” said Kelly, who also lost a friend in Parker Tobin in the crash. “You could see he had leadership qualities in him and he never gave it less than 100, he always gave it 100 per cent all the time.

“The qualities in a captain are leadership, obviously you can talk in front of the boys, and lead verbally and also lead on the ice by example, and you could just tell that Adam was a born leader. He was made for the job.”

Kelly, along with captain Brayden Pachal, presented Montmartre School principal Jill Young-Lee with Herold’s No. 34 Raiders jersey during the afternoon presentation.

Pachal also shared the story of the time Herold dummied then-Raiders assistant coach Dave Manson — he of 78 NHL fights and over 3,000 penalty minutes — during a training camp drill in 2017.

“Adam, like all of us, was pretty tired as it was a long tough practice,” said Pachal. “We finished up practice with one-on-ones. Adam was taking his man down the ice, gets to the far blue line and, bang, absolutely hammers our coach Dave Manson.

“Adam gets knocked over, and of course the towering goliath of a man, Dave, is standing over him, snickering a little bit. I think Dave might have got the worst of the collision though because all we heard for the next two months was how Herry messed up his ribs and how he could no longer sneeze or laugh without pain.”

Prince Albert Raiders forward Brett Leason poses with with Montmartre School student Riley Giroux during the team’s visit to Montmartre on December 6, 2018. (Brad Brown/Quad Town Forum/Special to the Herald)

Habscheid relayed a different kind of pain in his remarks to the school assembly.

“In my role and what I do as a coach is a fair amount of public speaking, in front of microphones or in front of podiums like this, and it comes pretty easy to me,” he said.

“I find it somewhat easy to do. This, however, was somewhat difficult. Usually I prepare a couple, two or three days, in advance. But this morning I didn’t really know what to say. I had nothing.”

Referencing a tweet that Russ Herold had sent the previous day, Habscheid brought the conversation back to the idea of respect — a feeling Pachal added that the Raiders players also clearly felt toward their departed teammate.

“This season has been pretty amazing so far and I think Adam, up there watching us, has something to do with that,” he said. “Once a Raider, always a Raider.”