I can’t wait for tonight’s Canada-Russia battle. It’s payback time for the Canadians and they have the team to do it.
I was going through some old photos and found my friend Gary Lupul (below), who passed away in 2007 at just 48 years old, and who played in the 1979 World Juniors, when it was still club teams participating. Gary was playing in the Western Hockey League for the Victoria Cougars and was recruited by the New Westminster Bruins for the tournament, held in Sweden.
He showed me his jersey from the tourney one night when we were downstairs at his parents’ house playing pool. It was blue, with white lettering.
Gary would go on to play for the Canucks, but sadly his lifestyle derailed his career. But he made some serious noise as a player. He was a crowd favourite, and the Pacific Coliseum faithful used to chant ‘Loop, Loop, Loop’ thoughout the game. They loved him. He scored on his first NHL shot, against Rogie Vachon, and one night in Montreal, Gary beat Bunny Larocque twice in a game against the Habs.
He was a star from the beginning. In minor all-star, he once notched 70 points in 16 games. At 16 he was rookie of the year with the BC Hockey League Nanaimo Clippers. And he racked up 300 points in three years with the Victoria Cougars of the Western Hockey League.
As a Canuck he was a force to be reckoned with in the 1981-82 Stanley Cup finals against the Islanders.
He played a total of 300 games, with 70 goals and 75 assists, and if he would’ve buckled down, it would have been so much more.
Mario Lemieux’s first fight in the NHL was against Gary.
Here’s Gary and myself and some friends, taken about 15 years ago. It looked like we were having a good day. He was a tremendously fun-loving guy, made us all laugh and kept things lively and upbeat, and was a great guy. (Gary’s in black shirt and sunglasses, I’m in white with the goatee.)