We Lost Gary Lupul A Year Ago


A year ago today, July 17, 2007, Gary Lupul passed away. He was 48 years old.

Gary Lupul was an ex-Vancouver Canuck, a proud Powell Riverite, a friend to people from all walks of live, and a great friend of mine. He was a scout for the Canucks when he died, and his beat was Ontario and the northern US, and he would phone me from Kitchener or Ottawa or even while driving through my old birthplace, Orillia, just to check in, to ask how I’m doing, and to say all was well with him.

Gary had lived several lives. Along with being a great athlete, he also had personal demons which ended his career prematurely. He told me once that there were times when he’d get a couple of hours sleep after a big party at his house in Vancouver, get up, walk over a bunch of people sleeping on the floor, and go to his Canucks practices.

He was such a colourful character, and it seems like he was just here a few days ago, and now he’s gone forever.

When I heard the news that Gary had died, for a minute or so I thought it had to be another Gary Lupul. It was shocking. It’s still hard to sort out.

He was the friendliness guy I think I’ve ever met. He only wanted to talk about you, never himself. And he was always genuinely interested. And he could be best friends to the most down and out folks, all the way up to the movers and shakers. Everyone loved him, and he loved everyone.

I would just like you to know that Gary was a real hockey player, not just a fringe player. Drugs and alcohol hurt his career and he never really had a chance to show what he could do.

Here’s some examples;

He was a crowd favourite, and the Pacific Coliseum faithful used to chant ‘Loop, Loop, Loop’ thoughout the game. They loved him.

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.

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. All while he did too much partying.

Mario Lemieux’s first fight in the NHL was against Gary.

Gary played for Canada in the 1979 World Juniors in Sweden.

Twice he was picked as a three star selection in an NHL game. And twice he was interviewed on Hockey Night in Canada.

In a game against the Montreal Canadiens during his first season, he scored twice against Bunny Larocque.

And he scored on his first shot in the NHL against Rogie Vachon.

Gary is missed by many people. He was a friend to all.





5 thoughts on “We Lost Gary Lupul A Year Ago”

  1. DK,

    One short sleep past, we wake eternally.
    And death shall be no more; death,
    thou shalt die.

    J. Donne, Holy Sonnets

  2. thats a real nice piece you did up on Gary there. He was also a very close family friend of mine to, its hard to believe its been over a year already. I dont think there has been a day thats gone by that i havnt thought of him or me and my dad havnt talked about him. He was truly one of a kind.

  3. Jordy, I watched and listened to your dad say those great words at Gary’s memorial. And the first time I met Gary, it was with your dad when they came into my pub.

  4. Dennis

    I watched Gary Lupul and the Nanaimo CLippers win the BC Jr. Cup around 1976. My brother got me tickets to the team banquet at year end, and I got to meet Gary afterwards, a big thrill for a 12 year old boy. He was larger than life, and called me little buddy.
    Go forward many years, when the Vancouver Canuck Oldtimers came to Grand Forks to play a game with the Border Bruins Oldtimers, sometime in the early 2000’s, I met him after the game and told him how I thought he was the coolest hockey player. He also met my kids that night. He was definitely the star of the Oldtimers game. I was so glad to meet him again, he will not be forgotten.

    Murray Forbes

  5. Nice story, Murray. Thanks for this. Gary was a great guy. He was exceptional around kids especially and he had a huge heart. His problems were inner, he had a few demons, but all in all, he just wanted to enjoy life. He was also a guy who was probably more comfortable around the down and out than around the successful. Some people in Powell River were a little mad at him because they knew he could’ve done more with his hockey career but others things got in the way, and it bothered him that they felt this way. He could also really talk. He loved to talk, and he couldn’t sit still.
    I was shocked when I heard the news, and the gathering for him at the Sports complex was really hard. He’s missed by many.

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