Part II: Denver Post Profiles Jesse Martin's Recovery

"Denver Post reporters Terry Frei and Mike Chambers second installment chronicling the recovery of college hockey standout Jesse Martin following a life-threatening injury" [read entire article].


dggoddard said...

Some pretty big "Wow" moments in Part II.

miller said...

There are a lot of "wow" moments in both articles. I can see both sides of the "disagreement" between Jesse and DU. I just hope that the relationship between DU and Jesse can be repaired in the years to come. He is truly an inspiration to all of us. I hate to see him leave DU with a bad taste in his mouth.

Anonymous said...

You can feel for Jesse's desires, however DU can not just toss aside a current student or volunteer assistant which would be unfair to those guys.

I would bet that the "statistics" job would have been something like tracking shots. Probably not what a guy who was used to being in the midst of the action could acclimate to easily.

DU probably can't be too thrilled with the tone these articles are taking on...

vizoroo said...

After reading Part I, wanted to respond but needed to think about the article and of course remember not only how I felt, but also the response from Pio nation and the hockey community. This morning I read Part II and earlier comments. There are always at least two points of view.

old pio said, "We're so lucky and thankful this young man is still with us and functioning on such a high level. The post injury "friction" between the Martins and Gwoz was news to me, but hardly a total shock. They were thinking primarily about the son they almost lost, while Gwoz had to consider that and keeping his team from unraveling. I take no side in this, but suspect these good people, with their different perspectives, reacted differently. And that nobody is "right" or "wrong."
As I say, liability issues can't be overlooked, but neither can the moral question of responsibility for a 20 year old facing life in a wheel chair or worse if things go wrong. I'm guessing some of the friction between the Martin family and Gwoz is in some way related to the almost certain fact that Gwoz was under some considerable pressure from the administration to play this a certain way. He may have agreed, or perhaps not. But he was being "advised" throughout."

DG said, "Jesse has shown incredible bravery, class and courage in the past year. I hope he returns to DU at some point in the near future to see his friends on the ice."

You want the University support Jesse in his desire to return and play at DU again. But do you give false hope when you know the odds are against him? And we still don't know whether his doctors will even give him the go ahead. Now Jesse can skate and play in a "no contact" league. And that's so much more than anyone expected that ugly night in Grand Forks.

dggoddard said...

These articles may be the most detailed look the fans have had inside the "House of Gwoz" since perhaps the Championship videos in 2004 & 2005.

Pretty riveting reading.

vizoroo said...

Terry Martin called Mike Chambers that night and Mike reponded immediately. Thanks Mike for being there for the Martins and all the news you've provided us from those early days to the present.

Anonymous said...

I think there are several layers playing against Jesse here:

Layer 1: Grahame talked liability, and while that wasn't DU's "official position" I would imagine it would become just that if Martin continued to press for a redshirt. Liability is very real. If he came back and got hurt again, DU would be in a big pickle from a liability standpoint.

Layer 2: The moral side of the coaches playing a very damaged player isn't right. Jesse has a broken neck that the coaches would always be worried about, clearance or not. Additionally, Jesse also has nerve damage in is arm, migraines and depression as result of the injury, all of which reduce the effectiveness of a D-I player.

Layer 3: When you peel the onion deeper, you also get to the cold reality which was hinted at in the first article, is that tension Jesse experienced with the coaches before the injury is likely based on the fact that Jesse was an average player WCHA player, even when when when fully healthy. As a senior, he had likely maxed out on his hockey development. Even if Gwoz did let him play again, he would likely denying a healthier and potenatially better player from joining the Pioneers. Gwoz is paid to win games in a tough league. Emotions aside, DU probably had better hockey options than redshirting an average WCHA player with mutliple injuries.

dggoddard said...

Jesse Martin was not an "average WCHA player" when he was in his prime. He was a terrific defensive forward. Put him on a line with Zucker and Bennett and he would put up numbers.

Martin would easily have been the best player on a half dozen WCHA teams at the start of last season.

DU is hardly "stacked" at the Center position so far this season. If Jesse could have recovered, to say, 90% of his former self he could have contributed this season...liability issues aside.

Anonymous said...

Gwoz is being played as a cold and somewhat prickly guy in the article so far, and while I don't doubt that he has a salty and ascerbic side of his personality (like Jack Parker or Herb Brooks or Gino Gasparini), I also have no doubts that Gwoz does care about Jesse Martin and what is best for Jesse in the long run.

Even without getting hurt, Jesse would have been ECHL or CHL or second division European player after college at best. Jesse is smart enough to make way more than minor league money in the business world.

Anonymous said...

Jesse, in his best year, had 14 league points, ranking 60th in the WCHA, or .61 PPG. He proudced about 45% of the offensive output of the league's top 5-10 players, which makes him about average among WCHA players that actually play serious minutes.

Anonymous said...

Great series of articles by Mike and Terry Frei. I can't wait to read the final installment tomorrow. I do understand Jesse's frustration. But I can't blame DU and Gwoz for taking the position that they did. Even if they let Jesse play another year, what role would Jesse have on the team? How happy would Jesse and his family be with what would probably be limited playing time? Would the pain in Jesse's arms affect his ability to play hockey? What kind of second guessing would happen if Jesse were injured again? If you think there is tension between the parties now, multiply that tension by 1000 if Jesse were to get injured again, or if any liability issues arose. So while I understand where the Martins are coming from, the focus should be on Jesse's miraculous recovery and second chance at life, rather than on holding any grudges. Continued best wishes to Jesse. He's a warrior, and I hope that he and his family can stay positive as he continues his difficult recovery.

Anonymous said...

Wonder how chilly things are between Chambers and DU admin/Gwoz now?

Anonymous said...

I don't think things should be chilly whatsover. Mike and Terry are writing honest articles, reporting on how the Martins view the situation, and giving DU a chance to respond. I think DU and Gwoz made the right decision. I can't blame Jesse for feeling hurt. It was painful to read how hard it was for him to be around hockey, and not be able to play. But Jesse's desire to play hockey again isn't the only factor involved here.

Anonymous said...

Point production is NOT the only determining factor in how good a player is. Jesse consistently won face offs, competed hard every shift and relentlessly blocked shots without fear. He was a great player...

Anonymous said...

Chambers has had a tenuous relationship with Gwoz, the staff and others at DU almost from the start of his coverage for the Post.

Anonymous said...

Anon 12:08: do you have any examples of this "tenuous relationship from the start", or do you like to just drop vague assertions without backing them up?

dggoddard said...

DU is lucky to have Chambers at the Post. If DU doesn't realize this, just wait until the next reporter covers the program. More likely there wouldn't be a "next reporter."

The Gophers, BC, BU and a host of other college hockey programs in major media markets no longer have a beat writer.

miller said...

In a perfect world, Jesse would have suited up this year. Unfortunately, this is not a perfect world and we all have to live with the reality we are handed (sorry for waxing philosophical).

Every time Jesse would have taken a hit, been thrown into the boards or upended on his skates everyone, including Jesse's family, would have held their collective breaths.

I hope that as Jesse looks back on this part of his life, he will see how blessed he was to have survived. Sorry, I don't think luck has anything to do with it. I think he can be an inspiration to a lot of people. He has been an inspiration to me!

I admire him and his family and at the same time I respect DU's position. They were really in a "no-win" situation.

I agree with a a previous poster. I would like to see an award given out yearly in Jesse's name. It could be for a player who displays determination and courage and is an inspiration to his teammates.

Jesse may be gone from DU but for those of us on this blog who are proud to call themselves Pioneers, he will never be forgotten.

Jesse we wish you God's speed and always know that you have a place here with us.

Twister said...

I would be interested to hear more from the DU side, especially Grahame---what exactly is the University's position in this type of case and is there a precedent in these types of scenarios? From a liability standpoint, is there any flexibility to accommodate this situation?

Perhaps it wasn't the actual message so much as the way it was conveyed to the Martins that upset them.

Anonymous said...

The article does seem to champion Jesse as a hero that's been somehow wronged by his school, but judging from the comments here, it seem the the serious DU fans are smart enough to understand why DU did what it had t do here.

Anonymous said...

A good lawyer would recommend that a private University should not take official positions that may expose them to further liability.

In other words, DU is best-served by doing exactly what it it did. Just mention 'liability concerns' and tell Jesse straight up that he's unlikely to ever play for DU again. It's not happy news and there may have been a better way to deliver it, but there are far more good reasons for him not to play again than good reasons for him trying to play again.

I think Terry and Mike are trying to paint the coach and school in a less-than-favorable light in this series of articles, and while I don't doubt that DU may have have been guilty of not handling the situtation with the highest amount of sensitivity, they are still morally correct for taking the actions they did.

ad said...

I am sure its a bit of a love hate relationship between mike and gwoz. but the DU program needs Mike, more than Chambers needs them.

This series has been amazing and inspirational to read and I know first hand that Mike Chambers truly cares about Jesse and his supportive family. He was with them from the start and I think it is great that terry and he have been able to tell this story so well and with such dedication.

I am excited to read the conclusion to the feature and I'm ready for some hockey this weekend!

old pio said...

Anyone reading these articles (whether DU fans or not) would instinctively root for and side with Jesse. Brave young guy, horrifically injured, fighting back against pain, migraines, depression and an indifferent (or worse) university and its coach.

The matter of Jesse's return to the ice for DU is instructive. How and when do you deliver bad news? "We won't be asking you to pledge." "We're going in another direction" (boy, howdy I've heard that one often enough) "We're cutting back." Do you effectively string people along or do you give it to them straight from the shoulder? The answer probably varies with the situation.

As to Gwoz' sincerity and concern or lack thereof, please forgive this clumsy analogy. When I read part I and learned of the Martins' collective frustration I thought of defendant statement at sentencing hearings. There's nothing the dude can say that will satisfy the victim's family. If he says "I'm sorry", they'll say "he doesn't mean it." If he says he didn't do it, they'll say "he's not taking responsibility for his actions." The rather simplistic point being there's nothing he can say that will satisfy them. And IMO Gwoz was in a similar situation.

As to this business of "how good a player was Jesse," I think it's undignified and should stop immediately. Among other things, it implies a callousness by Gwoz that I think is unjustified. Or at least not supported by any evidence. And if it had come to pass that Jesse was cleared to play again, I can't imagine anyone connected with DU, especially Gwoz, resisting. The inspirational value of a kid like Jesse would far outweigh any shortcomings in his game.

We can't understand fully what this young guy's been going through. And depression would seem to be automatic under these circumstances. The lingering physical problems can't be overlooked, especially as they relate to that depression. Jesse has suffered, his parents have suffered, his lady has suffered. And they will all continue to suffer into the future. Perhaps the suffering will be ameliorated as his phyical condition improves, but there will be suffering. As far as hockey is concerned, Jesse will always have "what if" hanging over him. "What if I'd returned to DU?" "What if I'd given the NHL a shot?" Nagging questions for which there will never be answers. Some people are consumed by these kinds of questions and wind up leading lives of bitterness and anger. I don't for a moment think Jesse will be one of them.

As DG has written, there are important lessons to be learned here. Perhaps Gwoz' "aloofness" was just him trying to hold it together. Maybe he should have let his hair down and shed some tears (we don't know that he didn't). Who's to say? Put yourself in his shoes. He's got to deliver the horrible news about Jesse's injury in a room full of players, many of whom are crying, and still hold it together. That's a job for someone else, not me.

On balance, this is an enormously uplifting and inspirational story, one which I believe reflects very well on all involved. And at the right time, DU and Gwoz should reach out to Jesse and his parents to patch things up. I think they'll come to realize Gwoz was doing the best he could under the circumstances.

Anonymous said...

What am I missing here?? I don't want to come off as a callous jerk here, but good lord, it seems the Martins have really lost some perspective. They almost lost a son, he came within a millimeter of being paralyzed or dying, and they are pissed at DU for telling him his playing days are likely over?! I mean, come on. Feel blessed that he's alive and doing well. But don't make DU the scapegoat here. I know it every Canadian boy's dream to play hockey but that may not be in the cards for Jesse. He hasn't been medically cleared to play again!! Jesse was a great player here and no doubt contributed immensely to the program, but don't put DU in the middle of this. I don't get it.

Anonymous said...

It looks like 4:19 beat me to the punch. This may not be a popular opinion but it seems fairly obvious if you really read the article segments and think about this situation objectively.

I read all 3 segments and I too came away puzzled at the attitude of both the player and his parents with respect to Coach G and the DU Hockey program. A great deal of anger and frustration being vented on the coach and the program because the player and Martin family are being told "no".

This was obviously a "dammed if you do/dammed if you don't" scenario for Coach G and DU because, legal issues aside, if you say "no" you are the bad guy for extinguishing the players dream of playing again but if you allow him to play again (which frankly would be insane) and he gets hurt and paralyzed then you are also the bad guy ("you never should have let him play, what were you thinking").

The Martin family and Jesse are/were angry that DU made the decision that Jesse was not going to continue with the hockey program as quickly as it did but I get the feeling that their reaction if DU had waited to reveal this information would be one of "you strung us along all this time - why didn't you just tell us this in the first place".

The family was angry at Coach G because he didn't have the answers they wanted with respect to getting a second medical opinion on the necessity of a spinal fusion.

The article states that the player would not have been physically able to perform even if he had been given the go-ahead or assurances by DU that he could rejoin the program yet he and his family are pissed off because they were not allowed to basically call the shots with respect to this.

The article states that Jesse came within a millimeter of dying or being paralyzed and the surgeon states that he "won the lottery twice" by being able to function at the level that his is at. Yet he and his family felt that he was/is being treated unfairly by the program since DU won't allow him to continue to play and told him this right from the start.

The article also brings to light the problems that he continues to have with sensitivity in his hands, headaches, additional hip problems, use of painkillers etc.