It’s great that western Canada’s Ed Chynoweth will be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame as builder in November’s ceremony. He deserves it.
But Bill Hunter deserves it too. When is this going to happen, for goodness sakes?
In fact, Hunter, who passed away on December 16, 2002 at the age of 82, should have been enshrined years ago.
To say that Bill Hunter shouldn’t be in the hallowed hall is 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 (NHL) 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.
The Hockey Hall of Fame has made some questionable choices in the past. Team Canada 1972 hero Paul Henderson isn’t there, but Russian goalie Vladislav Tretiak, who slammed Canada’s game and its system in his book Tretiak, the Legend, is. So is Harold Ballard, who almost single-handedly ruined a storied Toronto Maple Leaf franchise.
But forget about questionable decisions. Bill Hunter is clear cut. He should be in there, plain and simple.
Smarten up, whoever you are who votes.