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Plaza of Honor awaits ex-Roughrider therapist Ivan Gutfriend

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Awards

Plaza of Honor awaits ex-Roughrider therapist Ivan Gutfriend

Article reposted from CBC News Saskatchewan
Author: Kevin O’Connor

For decades, Ivan Gutfriend has been a good friend to injured Saskatchewan Roughriders — occasionally breaking the bad news and helping them get back in playing condition.

For 38 years, until he retired last year, whenever a Rider was hurt on the field, he would rush to their side

Now the team’s former athletic therapist will be honoured for his contributions — he’s being inducted tonight into the Riders Plaza of Honor.

It was Gutfriend who got the call when quarterback Darian Durant suffered season-ending injuries to his arm (in 2014) and his Achilles tendon (in 2015).

“They’re both devastating injuries, both to Darian and to the organization,” Gutfriend said.

Darian Durant

Ivan Gutfriend had to break the news to quarterback Darian Durant in 2015 when he sustained an Achilles injury. (Rick Elvin/The Canadian Press)

He recalled the conversation about the Achilles tendon injury in an interview with CBC Radio’sMorning Edition host Sheila Coles.

“All right, tell me straight, what is it?” he said Durant asked him. “I said, ‘I think you have a ruptured Achilles.’ … He was very despondent.”

Being an athletic therapist means telling it like it is, but also navigating an anxious player through the injury, he said.

“You have to reassure them that their career isn’t over.”

“Life’s not over. Your career’s not over. You just have to accept it is what it is.”

While Durant’s injuries have made the headlines in recent years, there have been others over the the years that stuck in his mind.

He recalled one season coming home from a preseason game when a player with an injured spleen needed an emergency splenectomy.

“Those don’t happen very often. They were scary.”

There have also been a lot of laughs over the years, with hijinks in the locker room and funny stories that may — or may not — ever see the light of day, he said.

“You get to hang with with young guys all the time,” he said. “It’s a lot of fun.”