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I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it Broncos

Liam Richards / Saskatoon StarPhoenix Surviving member of the Humboldt Broncos Graysen Cameron, right, gets some help from his father Tyler Cameron as he gets ready in his hotel room prior the NHL awards at the Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas, NV on Tuesday, June 20, 2018. Humboldt Broncos players Graysen Cameron, Derek Patter and Nick Shumlanski hold hands in the hospital following the crash that killed 15 people on April 6, 2018. RJ Patter, Twitter. Leah Hennel/Postmedia dzary@postmedia.comRelated WARMAN — Graysen Cameron doesn’t want to be treated any differently.He may be a Humboldt Broncos bus crash survivor, he may be the comeback story of the year and he may be the captain of this year’s Broncos squad, but, really, he’s still just one of the guys and a very likeable teammate.So there he is, loading and unloading the bus this season. It’s a job typically reserved for the fresh-faced, acne-prone rookies, but Cameron is more than happy and willing to lead the way and do the necessary grunt work.He’s a leader, no question about it.Broncos head coach and general manager Scott Barney saw that immediately. Barney wasn’t around two seasons ago to see Cameron play for the Broncos prior to the 2018 team bus crash, which claimed 16 lives and injured 13, Cameron among them.Yet, Barney did not hesitate whatsoever to select Cameron as the captain of what is a very youthful Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League team this season.“I talked to him over the summer a couple of times and you could just tell, right away, he was captain material,” said Barney, whose team won both its games here in the SJHL Showcase tournament to improve to 3-2-0-1 for the season.“He was worried more about other players than worrying about himself, even after everything he’s been through. He’s worked extremely hard to get to where he can (play) now after everything there. He’s been great, like trying to get the guys together doing team (bonding) things, and including everyone. A little example would be that usually younger guys would be loading the bus, but he’s there helping out. When you see him doing that, it just shows that, to even the other older guys, that, hey, everybody can help out and grab a bag here.“It’s good to see the character he has.” Complete coverage: Humboldt Broncos bus crash Humboldt Broncos hockey player Graysen Cameron (left) chats with his teammate Ryan Straschnitzki at Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary, on Tuesday May 29, 2018. Cameron laughs when asked about his bus-unloading duties.“Barney says we’ve all got to contribute and I’m all right with that,” chuckled Cameron, a 20-year-old native of Olds, Alta.. “We only have five vets here. Someone’s got to do that job. It’s a huge honour (to be captain). I’m very humbled by it. I do my best to be a good leader, be a good role model out there and that’s all I can do.”His leadership is not lost on the young players.“It was surprising (to see him unload the bus) because no one even asked him to do anything,” said 16-year-old rookie Karter McNarland. “He just came and started taking things (off the bus). That’s really good leadership on his part.“He’s an awesome guy. He’s probably one of the best leaders I’ve ever had leading the team, by the looks of it so far. He doesn’t treat you any differently if you’re 16 or 20. He treats everyone the same. And the way he works on the ice is admirable. He really leads by example on our team.”Cameron has one assist, along with 19 penalty minutes, in six games this season, but his contributions aren’t always seen in the stat lines. Cameron is one of the team’s chief penalty killers; his work ethic is second to none.“For me, he deserves to be here,” Barney said. “He competes every night. He throws big hits. I think, for our first three games, he had our hit of the night with our radio (broadcast) guys. He got them all three nights. He’s feisty. He’s skating well. He’s worked hard in Calgary there, all summer, with the Flames and the elite training centre where he worked. He’s put the effort in. I can see him next year going on to play hockey even more. He has a passion for it and a drive for it, and hopefully he can get some schooling out of it as well.“There was always the opportunity but he didn’t want to come back if he wasn’t ready. He didn’t want to make the team just because he was coming off everything, the situation that happened. He wanted to earn a spot and he definitely earned his spot. There’s no question there.”Following the bus crash on April 6, 2018, Cameron was initially told he would never play competitive hockey again. That changed last October when he was informed that a comeback was a possibility. His comeback journey was a lengthy one, but he worked extremely hard and persevered to a point where he felt comfortable about hitting the ice and playing junior hockey once again.He passed through the Broncos’ fall camp with flying colours.“It’s been a long road,” admitted Cameron. “I can’t say too much other than it’s been a lot of ups and downs. But things are looking good and all the hard work is worth it. I’ve never been happier just to be back here, playing hockey.“Back in October, I got the word that it may be a possibility so I just took my time with it and, back in May, I thought I’d give it a shot. That’s when I got to work, got the workout plans going. That was the start of the journey.”Cameron believes he’s a new and improved Bronco from two years ago when he was 18.“Well, skating wise and stuff, I think I’m a lot better now,” he said. “I did a lot of work in the summer with my hands and that kind of stuff. I definitely improved. I need to improve a lot more in that aspect of my game, but being older, being 20 years old in this league, it’s a lot easier out there to get around and be a physical force. I’m not the smallest guy out there anymore, so that’s nice.” He’s a little bit older, a lot wiser and, well, a bit more sore.“The body’s feeling a little bit older out there, that’s for sure. I’m feeling a little bit more sore now and then. But I’m in good shape now. It’s not too much of an issue right now. I’m feeling really good. I’d say that, when I’m at my best, I’m 100 per cent. It’s ups and downs every day. You’re not always feeling 100 per cent, but you’ve got to play your best no matter what.”It’s an inspiring comeback story, says SJHL president Bill Chow.“It’s great, obviously, and I think he’s an inspiration to a lot of people,” said Chow. “Mostly, from my personal viewpoint, I think it’s important that it’s all just right for Graysen Cameron. He’s back for a reason. He loves the game. He wants to play the game. That’s what’s right. As long as he’s comfortable doing it, that’s all that matters.”Cameron fractured a vertebrae in his lumbar spine during the catastrophic collision between the Broncos team bus and a semi-trailer truck on a Saskatchewan highway, south of Nipawin, on the way to an SJHL playoff game.After helping coach the Red Deer Midget AAA Optimist Chiefs this past season, Cameron returned to the ice back in June for a charitable hockey tournament in Colorado. Doctors removed a fusion placed in his spine and cleared him to play in the zero-contact tournament known as the Dawg Bowl.Returning to the ice was a milestone in his road to recovery.Cameron took the ice for the Broncos’ SJHL season home-opener on Sept. 14, wearing the captain’s “C.”“I wanted to come back for me, prove to myself that I could do it, that if I got back in shape, it was a possibility,” said Cameron. “But, every time I step on the ice, I’m thinking about all the guys, all my teammates, friends, families, everyone (associated with the bus crash of 2018) … That’s always who I’m playing for, but I made this journey back for me, to prove to myself that I could do it.” SASwp read more

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