DePape bids tearful adieu to Blazer teammates
Two days after letting his teammates know his career with the Kamloops Blazers is over, Jordan DePape has been able to let it all sink in.
“I feel pretty empty,” DePape said. “I’ve never felt like this before.”
DePape has elected to have surgery on his injured right shoulder — a decision that will likely end his junior-hockey career.
The 20-year-old right winger returned from left-shoulder surgery last season, scoring 14 points in 14 regular-season games and adding 13 points in 11 playoff games.
DePape missed six games earlier this season with a minor injury to his right shoulder and returned to action, only to separate the same shoulder on Nov. 11 against the Portland Winterhawks.
“It’s not fair to myself or my body and also I don’t think that it’s fair to the team,” said DePape, who racked up 98 points in 120 games with the Blazers after being acquired via trade from the Brandon Wheat Kings in December of 2009.
“The surgery is something I have to do or I’m going to keep getting injured.”
The Winnipeg product and Blazer brass knew he was likely done for the season before Kamloops played Portland at ISC on Friday, Nov. 16.
DePape did not want to distract his teammates with the news, so he sat on it until after Saturday’s (Nov. 17) game, when head coach Guy Charron addressed the team in the locker room.
“Guy quickly went over the game and he started saying a great speech about me and the tough decision that had to be made,” DePape said.
“I just started bawling.
“Then I stood up and gave a speech to the young guys, telling them to enjoy every moment because it goes by fast and one day you’re going to miss it.”
DePape received great news on Monday, Nov. 19.
He had told Craig Heisinger, senior vice-president, director of hockey operations and assistant general manager of the NHL’s Winnipeg Jets, about his shoulder injury and the decision to leave Kamloops.
Heisinger, a friend of the DePapes’, was able to pull some strings.
“I got a call from the Jets’ athletic therapist today and I have an appointment with a surgeon and a surgery date,” DePape said.
“Maybe a miracle can happen and I can be playing hockey somewhere again this season.”
DePape will go under the knife on Monday, Nov. 26.
The odds of a return to junior hockey are not great, DePape conceded.
“If it doesn’t happen, my junior memories have been phenomenal,” he said.
DePape, a Type 1 diabetic, has always been a great ambassador for the Blazers.
He often worked with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation while in Kamloops and toured the nation with Canadian country-music star George Canyon in the off-season, encouraging those with the disease to pursue their dreams.
His hockey dreams, it seems, have been put on hold and might never materialize as he once had hoped.
With the Blazers sitting atop the WHL and poised to make noise in the playoffs, the decision to leave the team was not made any easier.
“Hockey has been part of my life forever and to let my junior career end like this is harder than I could ever imagine, but my health is my No. 1 priority.” said DePape, who will likely play hockey at the University of Manitoba next season and study criminology, with eyes on a career as a policeman.
Not surprisingly, Game 6 of last season’s Western Conference semifinal — a thrilling 7-6 win over Portland — is a highlight for DePape.
“Game 6, that was just an amazing feeling,” said DePape, who had a goal and an assist in that game, following up a four-point performance in Game 5.
“But, the overall highlight is just all the time spent with the guys . . . joking around with Guy.
“Those are the moments I’ll carry with me for the rest of my life.”
Pats in town
The Regina Pats will be at Interior Savings Centre on Wednesday, Nov. 21, to play the Kamloops Blazers.
Puck-drop is scheduled for 7 p.m.
Regina (10-12-1-1) is tied for third in the Eastern Conference’s East Division.
The league-leading Blazers (19-5-0-1) are in the midst of a seven-game homestead.
Player of the week
Colin Smith of the Kamloops Blazers is the Denny’s WHL player of the week for the second time this season.
The Edmonton-born forward racked up one goal and seven points in two Blazers’ wins on the weekend — a 6-4 victory over the Portland Winterhawks on Friday, Nov. 16, and a 5-4 shootout win over the Prince George Cougars on Saturday, Nov. 17.
The 19-year-old Colorado Avalanche draft pick also won the award for the period ending Oct. 21.
Smith is second in WHL scoring with 49 points, one point back of linemate JC Lipon.