Trail suffers loss of Home of Champions finest

Dave Thompson reflects on the recent passing of Seth Martin and Glynn 'Taffy' Harper.

Pretty sad week in the Home of Champions. One iconic Trailite, Seth Martin, passed away Saturday night and a long-time integral part of the area sports scene, Glynn, “Taffy,” Harper, followed him Wednesday morning.

No doubt that Seth was the best known world wide. He was a standout international goaltender for the Smoke Eaters/Team Canada, in the 60s and also a visible local resident, businessman, friend, family man and sports fan.

Despite what some green-eyed residents sometimes muttered, he really was that good. You do not get to be a crucial part of minor, major junior, senior, international and NHL hockey teams unless you are that good.

It could be pretty hard to tell Seth was that competitive, combative even, while competing from just chatting with him. He certainly did not bring his stellar past up and was pretty casual about his major accomplishments even when that became the topic. But, those that played with him, at every level, would tell you he was fierce and focused – and saved the day on many occasions – on the ice.

Probably the first senior amateur goalie to don a mask, which he designed and contributed to building (he also helped many friends acquire one) he was certainly the first international goalie to wear the modern version – a true mask, not the cages that were just becoming available, mostly for minor hockey, at the time.

Seth’s career was pretty spectacular- a gold and two bronze world championship medals (he and the rest of Team Canada were blatantly screwed out of an Olympic bronze at the 64 games) along with four world championship and an Olympic all-star selections. He is enshrined, on his own and with several of his teammates, in a variety of Halls of Fame and, of course, on the big rock at KSCU.

His frequent brilliance on the ice, which led to later coaching positions, cannot be questioned.  He was part of Allan Cup senior hockey champions in Trail and elsewhere and despite playing behind the already legendary Glenn Hall, was an integral part of the St. Louis Blues run to the 1967 Stanley Cup finals.

All that, and more, being said, I and many others will miss Seth the friend, the guy who dropped by to sweep the floor (which always was in dire need of it) at Mota’s, and liked to chat and kibitz whenever he got the chance with whomever was up for it.

Seth was a piece of sports history, but he was also a personal piece of the mosaic that is the Home of Champions, as a resident, contributor and friend. Sad it was all so quick, the ending. Great that many of us, and others around the world, got to be part of, mostly vicariously, his achievements, and some of us fit into  his humble personal circle.

RIP Seth.

In memory of ‘Taff’

Taffy was a pretty good hockey player in his own right – not at the iconic level of the senior/international/professional hockey world Seth inhabited, perhaps, but a pretty successful winner of minor hockey titles up through junior, and recreational play, despite his diminutive frame.

It says something that he was able to make every rep team, including the Smoke Eaters, for which he turned out to try. Trail teams were the best in the province, generally by a wide margin, during Taffy’s youth, so competition for spots on them was fierce.

That’s not the part that was most important about Taffy, however. His forte was in organizing multitudes of activities, from golf tournaments of varied seriousness to hockey and football pools which helped a lot of us while away the winter months.

Attention to detail, including keeping up with sports here and around the world, was his most noticeable talent, one he put to good use on behalf of others.

The football pool, by the way, is continuing, at least this year, in his honour. Sheets are available from the usual suspects and at the usual sites.

Also in honour of a guy who fought the good fight and made room in his often-cluttered life for mulitudes of friends, there will be many a raised glass  to his life and passing in coming days.

He, too, was a family man who made most of a great life right here where it started.

RIP Taff