November 20, 2012

Sudden Death: The Incredible Saga of the 1986 Swift Current Broncos

This a long over due book. Sudden Death: The Incredible Saga of the 1986 Swift Current Broncos tells the story of heartbreaking tragedy that shook a Canadian town and the whole hockey world to it's core.

On December 30, 1986, the Swift Current Broncos set out for Regina to play the Pats. A few kilometres east of Swift Current, their bus left the highway and four players died in the crash. Trent Kresse, Scott Kruger, Chris Mantyka, and Brent Ruff (younger brother Buffalo Sabres legend Lindy Ruff) were killed. The rest of the team, led by future NHL star Joe Sakic, played out the season despite the loss. In a move to memorialize the fallen players, the WHL now awards the Four Broncos Memorial Trophy to the league's Player of the Year.

Two seasons later the Broncos won the 1989 Memorial Cup. Graham James, general manager and head coach, was the hottest thing in hockey. But few were aware of what was going on behind the scenes. In 1996, having moved on to the Calgary Hitmen, James was charged with sexual assault when Sheldon Kennedy, who had been in the crash and was part of the Memorial Cup–winning team, brought forth allegations.

This book tells the stories of those involved in the crash, in the championship, and in all that followed.

 Buy The Book - - Chapters - The book, published by Dundurn, has three authors with unique perspectives.

Leesa Culp was one of the few witnesses to the crash of the Swift Current Broncos. She has been published by The Hockey News, the Penticton Herald, and the Sudbury Star.

Gregg Drinnan has been a sports journalist for 40 years and has been sports editor at the Kamloops Daily News since 2000. I have interacted with Gregg numerous times and I can tell you few know the WHL better than him.

Bob Wilkie played three seasons with the Swift Current Broncos and was on the team bus when it crashed in 1986.


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