Sunday, 26 April 2015

This Summer's Project

Every year, HBIC embarks on an ambitious project or two that usually brings to light some new information I had never known before. It's a fun time for me because I get to dig through some history as well as learn a thing or two along the way. One of the things I'm going to try to do this summer is highlight all the great players who have played in the NHL from my home province of Manitoba. I think there's a distinct lack of recognition in my province about the vast number of excellent hockey players who have come from all over this great province, and we routinely see their impact in the NHL and the Stanley Cup Playoffs but rarely ever mention their roots. There have been a number of great players, including the pictured Ken Wregget, who have done some impressive things in their careers both in and out of the NHL.

There are the obvious players who I will highlight in Jonathan Toews and Bobby Clarke, but we here in Manitoba seem to forget about players like Andy Bathgate, Butch Goring, Grant Ledyard, and James Patrick who have done some pretty incredible things in their careers. There are a ton of players who came out of Winnipeg, but what about the small towns like Swan River, Deloraine, Morweena, Riverton, and Hamiota? They have seen a few of their kids ascend to greatness in the NHL and on the international stage, and we'll take a look at a number of these great players.

This won't just focus on the NHL players either. We'll talk women's hockey, AHL, IHL, and every other HL out there as we look back on some of the greatest Manitoba-born players to have tied on the skates. It seems as though there are a pile of women who quietly go about their business after being born here and playing in big games in international, NCAA, and CWHL hockey, so I'm pledging to feature a number of these women in these profiles as well. You'll see names like Botterill, Small, and Larocque on the women's side, but we'll also talk about names like Bram, Bestland, and Krzyzaniak.

Mixed in with the player profiles will be profiles on some of the executives and coaches that have helped to shape the world of hockey throughout history. There have been a pile of great minds from Manitoba who have worked behind the benches and in the front off of various teams, and we'll sift through some of those names such as Shero, Fleming, Murray, and Heisinger. These men ave seen it all in their careers - the highest of highs and the lowest of lows - and they all left their mark on hockey. You might even meet some interesting fellows who have taken their coaching abilities outside the Canadian and NHL borders and left their marks on other countries such as Dave Henderson.

For some fun, I'll also mix in a few odds and ends such as officials, mascots, and other people who make the game enjoyable. While I won't pull the curtain back on a mascot and reveal the man inside, there's a certain enjoyment from seeing a mascot have some fun in the crowd. Mick E. Moose, who moved from the AHL to the NHL when the Manitoba Moose left town, has had a great run of being an identifiable part of the Jets, so we'll explore that side of the coin too.

All in all, this summer's project has a great feel to it as I spend some time in neighbourhoods and towns that I may normally never visit to get some perspective on where these men and women got their starts. I'll try to include photos of key sites where they made their marks, and, if I can make contact, I'll see if I can get some of these awesome Manitobans onto the radio show!

The summer season starts shortly, and there are a pile of stories waiting to be told!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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