Bill Hunter deserves to to be in the Hockey Hall of Fame.
In fact, Hunter, who passed away on December 16, 2002 at the age of 82, should have been enshrined years ago.
To say that Wild Bill shouldn’t be in the hallowed hall is a little like saying Lord Stanley, Conn Smythe, or Frank Selke shouldn’t be either. The man practically instilled the right to skate, shoot, and score in Western Canada.
Here’s a rundown of some his astonishing accomplishments. Then you decide whether he belongs.
He was either coach, general manager, president, chairman of the board, owner, or any combination of the above of the Regina Capitals Senior Club, Saskatoon Quakers, Medicine Hat Tigers, Moose Jaw Hockey Club, Yorkton Terriers, Edmonton Oil Kings Junior Club, San Diego Gulls, Alberta Oilers and Edmonton Oilers of the newly formed World Hockey Association (WHA). He was also general manager of Team Canada 1974.
And he almost single-handedly created the Western Hockey Junior League and was the mastermind behind the modern-day Memorial Cup format.
In 1982 he launched Saskatoon’s bid to acquire a franchise in the National Hockey League by purchasing the St. Louis Blues with the intent to move the club to Saskatoon, only to be turned down by the league. But from this, a world-class multipurpose sports and entertainment complex known as Saskatchewan Place was built.
He was awarded the Canadian Tourism Award, inducted into the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame, Notre Dame (Saskatchewan) College Hall of Fame, City of Edmonton Hall of Fame, was an Honorary Life Member of Notre Dame, is in the Saskatoon Hall of Fame and was given the Order of Canada. It just goes on and on.
So why isn’t he already? Because Wild Bill rubbed some the wrong way. The NHL was never pleased that Hunter helped form the renegade WHA, which enticed players from the old-guard NHL, which led to a rise in salaries.
Has the NHL held a grudge till this day? If so, it’s time to get over it and do the right thing.