The Roanoke Times
ROANOKE, Va. – The Roanoke Express will retire Terrence Tootoo’s jersey in a pregame ceremony Friday at the Roanoke Civic Center.
Tootoo played for Roanoke last season and was expected to return, but committed suicide in August. About 500 friends attended a memorial service for in Roanoke in September.
Tootoo’s parents, Barney and Rose Tootoo, have come to Roanoke from their home in Rankin Inlet, Nunavut, Canada, for the ceremony. His brother, Jordin Tootoo, has come from Brandon Manitoba, where he plays junior hockey.
The Express players will wear Tootoo’s number, 22, on their jerseys this season and a photo of him hangs above the door from the locker room with the words “Gone but not forgotten.”
“Every person has dealt with it in their own way,” Express captain Rick Kowalsky said. “The guys that knew him last year – played with him – loved him. There’s no question we think about him every day. … They did a [remembrance] in Atlantic City and they had signs up in Trenton, it was really classy.”
Only six of Roanoke’s 20 players played with Tootoo last season, but Florio said the whole team “knows what Terrence meant to us. His spirit is with us. It’s more uplifting than depressing.”
In addition to talking to his team about Tootoo’s spirit, Florio said he gave them his cellular telephone number and urged them to call him at any time.
“If they have any problem, with the law or something in their personal life or if they’re homesick, they can call me 24-7,” Florio said.