Tag Archives: Gary Lupul

Lots To Read (If You Want)

I once phoned Hall of Famer and ex-Hab Bert Olmstead in Calgary (he was in the phone book), hoping to get him to talk about the old days with the Rocket and Stanley Cups etc. He hung up on me.

When I had my sports bar in Powell River, Frank Mahovlich and Red Storey came in while on an oldtimers tour. Frank told me the Montreal organization was so much better than the Leaf organization. We fed them a spaghetti dinner. That night, referee Storey, with a microphone, told the crowd that the spaghetti at Kane’s was the best.

I spoke to the Habs’ Jim Roberts after a game at the old Forum when I was about 13 , several years before it was renovated in 1968. He was nice to me and I decided to start a Jim Roberts fan club. I didn’t because I figured it was too much work and he wasn’t a good enough player.

I met the Rocket when he was refereeing an oldtimers game in Calgary. I told him he’d sent me a Christmas card when I was about 8 years old and he said he used to send out lots of cards but didn’t remember much at all about the old days. My sister took a picture of him, then the Rocket said he wanted me to take a picture of him with my sister.

My dad took me to a Montreal-Toronto game back in the 1950s. Somehow he corralled coach Toe Blake in the lobby and asked him to take my hockey book into the dressing room and get Doug Harvey to sign it. Blake did.

My peewee coach in Orillia, Jack Dyte, played 27 games for the Chicago Blackhawks during the 1943-44 season. He had one goal and 31 penalty minutes.  He played alongside Punch Imlach for the Quebec Aces in the old Quebec Senior League and against the Rocket before Richard joined the Habs.

When I lived in Ottawa, it was well known that a somewhat down-and-out Doug Harvey was living in a railway car (which was once used by Canadian PM John Diefenbaker) at the race track across the river in Hull. And what did I do? Nothing. Didn’t go there. Didn’t bring him any smokes or a bottle. Didn’t invite him home for a turkey dinner. Nothing. It’s a big regret.

I had breakfast with HOF goalie Glenn Hall when he came to Powell River for the Allan Cup back in the late-1990s. After breakfast I drove him around the area in my Hyundai Excel.

Butch Bouchard didn’t own a pair of skates until he was 16, and just four years later he’d made the NHL.

I grew up just down the street from Rick Ley, who was a solid defenceman for the Leafs in the late 1960’s and into the ’70s. He also played for the New England Whalers in the WHA and has his sweater retired in Hartford. He then went on to a coaching career in Vancouver and Toronto. He and I would sometimes skate on an outdoor rink before school, and in the summer, during a pickup baseball game, with him pitching and me catching without a mask, the batter tipped one of Ley’s pitches and the ball knocked my front tooth out. I’ve had plastic in my mouth ever since.

In the late 1960s, Rick Ley’s older brother Ron and his buddies threatened to take me behind the pool hall and cut my long hair.

Bep Guidolin played his first NHL game in 1942 with Boston. He’s the youngest player ever to play in the league, at 16 years old.

Floyd Curry attended his first Montreal Canadiens training camp in 1940 at just 15. He didn’t make the team but it’s still quite a feat.

Bobby Orr played for the Jr. A Oshawa Generals when he was just 14.

Hall Of Fame goalie Johnny Bower didn’t play his first NHL game until he was 30 when he was called up from the minors to the NY Rangers. He played one season, then three more in the minors. After that he was traded to Toronto when he was 34 years old (maybe older). Amazingly enough, Bower played goal all those years with poor eyesight and rheumatoid arthritis.

Claire Alexander, who played defence for the Leafs in the mid 1970s, came into the league when he was 29. Before that, he was a milkman in Orillia, Ontario (my hometown).

In the early 1960s, when I was about 12, my parish priest, Monsignor Lee, was somehow connected to the Toronto Maple Leafs. I think it had to do with St. Michael’s College. At one point he took my buddy Ron Clarke and I to Peterborough to see an exhibition game between the Leafs and Chicago, and the afternoon before the game, we had dinner at the hotel with the Leafs’ brass. The players were in an adjoining room. Ron and I had dinner with the Monsignor, King Clancy, and Jim Gregory, who is now in the builder’s category of the Hockey Hall of Fame.

In the 1950s, New York tough guy Lou Fontinato (who later was traded to Montreal), got into a scrap with Rocket Richard. Fontinato got Richard’s sweater off and proceeded to rip it to shreds with his skates. A few weeks later, Fontinato received a bill from the Canadiens for $38.50.

I was a milkman in Calgary for awhile and Doug Risebrough was one of my customers. His wife, who looked after the milk situation, gave me a small tip at Christmas. Risebrough played 13 years in the NHL, with both Montreal and Calgary. When he was eating his Cheerios with the milk I had faithfully delivered, he was coaching the Flames. I remember years before, in Ottawa, when the Habs played a pre-season exhibition game at the old Civic Centre, the buzz in the papers was the new promising rookie who would be playing that night in his first NHL game. That player was Doug Risebrough.

I played on the same Midget team as Dan Maloney for one game in Barrie after our Orillia team got eliminated and three of us were loaned to Barrie. I remember he was big, and a real leader even then. We were about 16. I also spent an afternoon with him hanging out and playing pool. Dan Maloney played for four teams (Chicago, LA, Detroit, and Toronto) over 11 seasons, and eventually went on to coach. He was truly a great guy and a tough bastard.

Toe Blake’s real first name was Hector. He got the name ‘Toe’ from his younger sister who pronounced the last part of Hector as toe, as in “Hectoe.”

Turk Broda, who was the Toronto Maple Leaf goalie from 1936 to 1952, had the nickname “Turk” because as a child, his neck would turn red like a turkey when he got angry. His real name is Walter.

During the time I owned my restaurant in Powell River, the Hanson Brothers (from Slapshot) came to town for a promotional thing at the arena. Afterwards, two of them, the Carlson brothers, came into my pub and at midnight, I locked the doors and drank beer and talked hockey with them until about 5AM.

When I was 12, my peewee baseball team played in a tournament in St. Catherines, Ontario. For one game, goalie great Gerry Cheevers, in his early-20s at the time, was the umpire.

When I was about 11 and at the opening of the Hockey Hall of Fame at the CNE in Toronto with my dad and sister, I asked Foster Hewitt for his autograph. He signed for me, but because he was in a deep discussion with someone, he kept my pen. I was too shy to ask him for it so my sister had to get it for me.

Howie Morenz was Toe Blake’s hero when Blake was a boy. He said he even called himself Howie. Years later, in 1937, Blake played for the Habs alongside his boyhood hero Morenz. This was the same year Morenz died from complications from a broken leg.

Toe Blake used such terrible profanity, he was barred from the Forum Billiard Hall.

In the early ’60s when I was about 13 or so, my previously mentioned buddy Ron Clarke and I went to Barrie, Ont. for an exhibition game between the AHL’s Buffalo Bisons and the Rochester Americans. We were there early and somehow got talking to the Buffalo trainer, and he let us be stickboys for the game. The team gave Ron and I sticks, although I broke mine later playing road hockey. And Don Cherry played that night for Rochester, although I only know this from the lineup sheet I still have.

Toe Blake said “Hockey has been my life. I never had the opportunity of getting one of those million dollar contracts, but hockey was worth more than a million to me in plenty of ways.”

1950s Habs grinder Marcel Bonin would at times eat glass (probably after several pops), and also wrestled a bear or two. And once, while at training camp in Victoria, BC, Bonin broke his thumb during some horseplay off the ice. He kept it a secret from Toe Blake, then during the next practice, pretended to hurt his hand on the ice and kept himself from getting into hot water with Blake. It worked.

Two NHL players who were notorious for treating rookies on their own teams badly were Steve Shutt and Dave Keon. Shutt’s reasoning was, “Hey, it happened to me so it’s gonna happen to them too.”

Jim Pappin, who won a Stanley Cup with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1967, lost his Cup ring years ago. But it was found several years ago in the Gulf of Mexico when a diver using an underwater metal detector came up with it.

I saw Bobby Orr twice in my home town of Orillia. Once when I was sitting in the park down by the lake, he and his wife strolled by. He had a hockey school with Mike Walton in Orillia at this time. The other was out at one of the local beverage rooms, and he and a bunch of people I knew a little, sat near us. There’s a strong chance my table drank more beer than their table.

Gary Lupul, a great ex-Canuck and a good friend of mine who passed away several years ago, introduced me to goaltender Richard Brodeur, who was in town on an oldtimers tour. Gary told Brodeur I was a Habs fan, and Brodeur said “Oh. I don’t want to talk to you.” (He was joking. I think.)

I was also introduced to the Hanson Brothers’ manager when the Hansons came to town. I held out my hand and he asked “Do you wash your hands when you take a crap?” I said of course, and it was only then that he shook my hand.

A kid I played minor hockey with for four or five years, John French, ended up getting drafted by the Montreal Canadiens and played a couple of years with the club’s farm team, the Nova Scotia Voyageurs. But it was the early 1970s and extremely difficult to crack the Habs line up, so French signed with the New England Whalers of the newly-formed World Hockey Association instead. He played with Gordie Howe and another good Orillia boy, his old friend Rick Ley, who had played for the Leafs before jumping to the WHA.

The best seat I ever had at a game was in the first row at the Montreal Forum in the late-1970s, behind the net, just to the right of the goal judge.

The worst seat I ever had was at Edmonton’s Northland Coliseum for a game between the Habs and Oilers, and we were in the very first row behind the Oilers bench. John Muckler and his two assistant coaches stood right in front of us, so the only time we could see was when the play was down at either end.

Canada’s greatest pool player, Cliff Thorburn, is a long-time Habs fan.

The first two artificial rinks built in Canada were in Victoria and Vancouver.

From a documentary I learned that Russian Czar Peter the Great would often go incognito to Europe, with a shaved mustache and old hat, and from a painting of him shown in the doc wearing these,  he looks a dead ringer for deceased Russian hockey star Valeri Kharlamov.

When the Rocket was playing for the Verdun juniors in 1939, he took boxing lessons in the off-season. He became so good at it that he was entered into a Golden Gloves competition, but a damaging punch in the nose by his coach prevented him from participating.

Leaf star Darryl Sittler and his wife Wendy were staying at Paul Henderson’s house and looking after their three daughters when Henderson scored those big goals during the 1972 Canada-Russia Summit Series.

Team Canada had a six-hour stopover in Paris on the way to Stockholm. Goalie Ed Johnston said this about Paris: “What’s wrong is the same thing you find with all these European cities. Too many old buildings.”

While in Stockholm, a Swedish fellow at the press conference mentioned that maybe Bobby Orr, who was injured and didn’t play in the series, wasn’t as good as Russian Valeri Kharlamov. “He’s good in the NHL,” said the guy, “but in Europe he’d be only average.” A Canadian who overheard this said, “Put this down. Bobby Orr-healthy-would eat any Czech or Russian alive. And he’d spit out any Swede.”

In Moscow, the Canadians were seen coming back to their hotel at all hours of the night. While some of the boys were sitting around the lobby of the Grand Hotel, someone mentioned hearing that the Russians had put street crews with jackhammers outside the Canadian team’s windows in the early morning. “No problem,” said one player. “We won’t be in anyway.”

Coach Harry Sinden celebrated his 40th birthday while overseas. “Ten days ago I was 29,” he said.

Some Canadian fans who arrived in Moscow found out there were no tickets available for them. These included Maurice Richard, Punch Imlach, former referee-in-chief Carl Voss, and legendary wrestler Whipper Billy Watson. Those left out were given three options: they could take an all-expenses paid 10-day tour of Copenhagen; they could fly home and be refunded; or they could stay and take their chances on finding tickets. Most chose the third option.

Dennis Hull, after a tour of Moscow, gushed, “I really like the place. It reminds me of Buffalo.”




Scouring The Countryside


Joe Delguidice was a Montreal Canadiens scout in Northern Ontario from the early 1950s until the mid-sixties.

I wonder if he had anything to do with Kirkland Lake’s Ralph Backstrom joining the Canadiens organization.

$250 wasn’t much, but most of these guys had normal jobs and scoured the area only in the evenings or on weekends. Their honorariums would cover gas, coffee and hot dogs, and yes, they were expected to drive to see hotshots like Backstrom regardless of winter storms and such.

Of course the odd perk would come along, like a free team jacket, or tickets to the Forum, but all in all, I think it was done mostly out of love of hockey.

My friend Gary Lupul was a full-time scout for the Vancouver Canucks, up until his passing almost six years ago, and he would drive from town to town throughout much of Ontario, living on junk food and spending most of his days either on the road or in arenas. He loved it but it wasn’t something he wanted to do for a long time.

It’s not a glamorous job, but an important one. They’re the ones who keep the league stocked.

I can remember when I played bantam and midget hockey, and from time to time we’d hear rumours that scouts were in the stands. Of course this is when I’d play like a bum and could barely stand up.

Gary Lupul

It was July 18, 2007 when Powell River’s Gary Lupul died of a heart attack at just 48 years old. I was shocked. He was a close friend of mine, and he seemed in good shape. It was a horrible time for many people, because Gary was loved by many.

There were those who didn’t love him quite as much as the rest of us though. Gary’s NHL career was cut short, mostly because he had a love for the good life, and there were some in town who felt he didn’t behave himself properly and blew a promising career. Gary heard these things, he felt bad that some felt that way, but que sera sera. He was simply an outgoing and fun-loving guy who was funny, great with kids, had no ego, and the ladies loved him, although some women in Powell River steered clear of him because of rumours of his struggles. That and I guess because he was often broke. It was their loss. He was an excellent fellow who looked like a stronger version of Hollywood actor Rob Lowe.

Below, Gary with the Canucks, fighting for the puck with Gordie Howe, and taking a faceoff against Marcel Dionne.

My Friend The World Junior

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.)

1982 Was A Fine Year For The Canucks

The Vancouver Canucks went on a big run in 1982, making it to the Stanley Cup final before being swept in four games by the New York Islanders. My buddy Gary Lupul, who I didn’t know at that time because I was still an easterner then, and who sadly passed away in July of 2007, played in ten playoff games that year for Vancouver, scoring two goals and adding three assists.

What a great guy Lupe was.

The 1982 Canucks playoff run also saw Vancouver coach Roger Neilson waving a white towel in mock surrender during a game he wasn’t happy about, which led to the towel craze we see in rinks around the league now.

Below, 1982 Canuck thrills and spills.

Max And Chara Talk, And PK Annoys

I see that Zdeno Chara has had a chat with Max Pacioretty sometime recently and that’s good. If Chara spoke from his heart, saying he worried for Max and never wanted to hurt but simply erase him from the play, then that’s excellent.

Of course, it isn’t good if Chara warned Max to never, ever push him again after scoring an overtime goal.

Maybe now Mark Recchi will step forward and say he was out of line for saying Max embellished his injury. Or is the former Hab still having trouble removing his foot from his mouth?

Elliotte Friedman on rookie of the year –  He chooses Jeff Skinner, but also had this to say –

“You know who is not getting enough respect? John Carlson.
He led all rookies in ice time, both for the season and per game. He was six points behind Kevin Shattenkirk, who led diaper-dandy defencemen in scoring. Carlson and Karl Alzner became the shutdown pair on a team that changed its system at Christmas and charged at the end to win the East. That’s pretty good.

P.K. Subban’s chances are hurt because he annoys people. That’s unfortunate, because he had a major impact on a decimated blue-line. But Carlson had a better year.”

Carlson had a better year? He had 7 goals and 30 assists for 37 points, plus 44 PIM’s. PK notched 14 goals and 24 assists for 38 points and 124 PIM’s. The Canadiens relied heavily on PK after losing Andrei Markov and Josh Gorges for the season and Jaroslav Spacek for 23 games. PK is such an impact player that the Bruins will be concentrating hard on him as he can be a game-breaker.

And he annoys people? What does that have to do with anything? If Bobby Orr had annoyed some, does that mean he wouldn’t have won all those Norris’? It’s about skill, impact, importance to team, points and other intangibles. It shouldn’t be about whether PK annoys some players or not.

Am I wrong or was Friedman’s statement one of the sillier things you’ve seen lately? Hall of Famers and others throughout the decades annoyed other players too.

Wayne Gretzky used to tell Gary Lupul he was useless and didn’t belong in the league. Gretzky was a known trash-talker and that annoyed others I’m sure. Alexander Mogilny, after being asked by his Vancouver Canucks’ coach (who I won’t name) to do more backchecking, replied, “And how much money do YOU make?’ To me, that’s also pretty annoying.

Ted Lindsay would call Rocket Richard every hateful and racist name he could think of. That must have been tremendously annoying.

But PK’s a rookie and is supposed to behave. The unwritten rule is that you can’t be annoying until you’ve been around a few years. Too bad.


It’s A Fine Day Today. A Fine Day Indeed

It’s amazing how a little plan comes together, as if the stars and planets aligned and the hockey gods put their touch on this poor soul who wanted to do something but didn’t think it was in the cards. 

On and around February 22, some unexpected days off at work will occur. On this day my wife and I will be delivering a computer to my daughter-in-law in Vancouver. And on this day the Montreal Canadiens just happen to be in town to play the Canucks.


I was absolutely resigned to watching the Canadiens on television. I figured I’d be working. I thought not a ticket would be found except possibly the odd nosebleed type. And I figured I’d be way up the coast in Powell River anyway. 

I was wrong. I’ll be in Vancouver and so will the Habs. Again – hmm. 

How could I be in Vancouver and not go to the game? Montreal only comes once a year and sometimes not at all. So I put to work my remaining brain cells, the ones which escaped the sixties, and now, I’m more than happy and proud to announce that – WE’RE GOING TO THE FREAKING GAME!!!

Without first having a ticket for this sold-out affair, one of the hottest dates of the year, I went ahead and booked a hotel room just across the street from Rogers Arena. That was step one. Then I spent several hours on the computer checking ticket outlets and ebay, but there was no guarantee, even if I found a pair I liked, that they would reach my home by mail in time.

But I was going to be in Vancouver, had the hotel room across the street, and if I had to talk to scalpers, it’s what I was going to do. I told myself I’d just work an extra week at the end when I’m retiring.

But then I tried Craigslist and found some great deals on tickets for this big night and dutifully recorded about 20 different sellers with good seats. I’m an impatient sort, and when I didn’t hear back on email from the guy with seats at dead centre, lower bowl, eleven rows up, I went to plan B, which meant finding a seller with a phone number.

And I did. I got hold of a woman with a pair of tickets, who lives and works downtown, so picking them up will be easy, and we made the deal over the phone. I’m crazy with excitement. We’re 8 rows up, behind the net and slightly off to the right before it reaches the corner. I’ve sat in seats like these before in Toronto and at the Forum, and it’s a splendid view. I love watching the rush coming towards me, seeing how hard the shots on net really are, and the way plays are set up as the team works it way toward the other end while the other prepares a defence to the attack.

And the tickets are only slightly more than face value.

Damn, this is fine. I should buy some champagne. Excuse me while I kiss the sky.

So either the night before or early the morning of the game, my wife and I will drive for half an hour, ride a ferry for an hour, drive another hour and and a half, ride another ferry, arrive at Horseshoe Bay in West Vancouver, drive for half an hour to downtown, pick up our tickets, and then I’ll look upwards and thank the hockey gods for making this all come together.

I haven’t seen the Canadiens play since 1998 when they were in Vancouver , and my seats were up in the clouds and two guys with big heads blocked much of my view. Montreal also lost that night. My buddy Gary Lupul, who once played for the Canucks and then became a scout, promised me he’d take me down for a game and we’d sit in a box, but Gary died before we had a chance to do this. Before 1998, I saw them play a few times in Calgary during the Patrick Roy years. The games in Montreal for the decades before now feel as if they’ve become centuries.

I’m like a little kid right now. It’s Christmas morning. Several birthdays. That night Sophia Loren called me. (I made that up).

If you’re watching the game on February 22nd from Vancouver and see a couple in the stands just over from behind the net and the guy with a blue Habs hat has a huge and silly smile on his face, that’ll be me.

This is a good day. I’m going out to celebrate.

It’s My Blood Pressure And I’ll Let It Rise If I Want To

Why am I in a lousy mood on this Saturday in the middle of winter when I have a day off and I get to go to the Gary Lupul tribute game at the rink tonight and eat popcorn? Is it because the Habs lost 3-2 in overtime to the Ottawa Senators? Yep, that’s one reason.

Is it because I’m tired of writing about the team losing? You bet I am.

Is it because the Habs have lost 9 of their last 13 games? See above question.

Is it because it looks like Mike Cammalleri has done serious damage to his foot or ankle? Yep, another.

Is it because Jason Spezza walked around Hal Gill and Marc-Andre Bergeron like they were statues? Of course.

Is it because I hate Carrie Underwood’s singing and her boyfriend Mike Fisher won it for the Sens in overtime? Again, ditto.

So, because I’m in a nasty mood, I think I’ll just let off steam if you don’t mind. And who will I pick on? People who have remained quiet, thankfully, but who deserve to be picked on anyway.

Question to the mindless, low I.Q., classless freaks who in the past have torched cars, overturned police cruisers, and looted stores in downtown Montreal after the team has won a playoff series. Why would you do all that when the Canadiens win and but you now remain quiet like Tibetan monks when the team is losing on an almost nightly basis?

Not that you should be doing it at anytime but I’m curious.

I also wonder how you’ve managed to stay alive all your years without walking in front of a bus or diving off the Jacques Cartier bridge because you were hot and wanted to cool off. I just question your reasons and timing. You don’t even know when to riot.

Now repeat after me – “I-get-angry-when-the-team-is-doing-poorly-not-when-they-win-a-playoff-series.

Got that?

Now go and stand in front of a bus. Or brush your tooth. Or brush your mother’s tooth.

You guys make the Trailer Park Boys look like a collection of Einsteins.

Random Notes:

Habs host the Canucks on Tuesday. I have nothing to say about this other than the Habs host the Canucks on Tuesday.

Big Night In A Small Town. A Tribute To Gary Lupul


Powell River, the little semi-isolated town up the coast from Vancouver, boasts a junior team, the Kings, in the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL), and one of the best senior squads in all of Canada, the Regals. It’s serious hockey played in these parts. But on Saturday night, the most important hockey game of the year will be a fun night, a great night, but also a bittersweet night.

Because on this night, the town, players and fans honour Gary Lupul.

Gary Lupul was my friend, as I’ve mentioned here before. We used to have great all-night talks. His mom, who recently passed away, was a lovely lady who oozed class and was the force behind the town getting a new arena. Whenever I see his dad at the mall or on the street, he always has something silly to say that makes me laugh. In fact, I just Vic at the mall a few days ago sitting with a bunch of women his age, and he had them all laughing and giggling.

The Lupul family is a family of warm and funny characters.

Gary began as a huge star in the Western Hockey League with the Victoria Cougars and went on to play 293 games with the Vancouver Canucks, scoring 70 goals and had 145 points. He played against Gretzky, Lemieux, Cheevers and Lafleur, and although slightly small, was a tough cookie who stood up to everyone.

But he had troubles off the ice. Drugs and alcohol ended up shortening his career and although he regretted it, he also probably knew he couldn’t change. He was a fun-loving fellow who drove his coaches crazy but was loved by his teammates, who always speak of him now with a smile on their faces.

Happily, at a time when he really needed a break, he became a scout for the Canucks and was able to stay in the sport he loved. He would phone me sometimes when he was on wintry roads that took him throughout Ontario from rink to rink – Kitchener one night, Huntsville or Ottawa or Cornwall the next, even my old hometown Orillia, and he would tell me about young players he’d just seen, and you could tell he was in his element.

Just over two years ago, on July 17, 2007, while watching television, Gary suffered a heart attack and died, and we mourned and still mourn. He was a great, kind, funny, generous guy who could relate to a street person as easily as he could to a millionaire. He’d been through some hard times, and he kept a special place in his heart for the down-and-out.

Saturday night, the Vancouver Canucks alumni are coming to Powell River to take on the Regals alumni made up of players who won three Allan Cups in the past fifteen years, and it should be a fun, entertaining night of great passes, slick plays, and smiling faces.

But it won’t really be about the game on this night. It will be about Gary, our friend, who we miss so much.

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