HM Gretzky to Promote Hockey in Australia
Having played an influential role in popularizing hockey across America's southwest, Wayne Gretzky is turning his attention to a new frontier. The Great One's heading Down Under.
"You know what, I've said it a thousand times in my lifetime that everything I have in my life is because of hockey," Gretzky said. "And quite honestly,
I never thought I'd ever one day be saying I'd be going to Australia, let alone go to Australia for a hockey event. You know, I'm so lucky."
The 55-year-old Gretzky has signed on to take part in the Wayne Gretzky Ice Hockey Classic, which involves a series of five exhibition games that began this weekend featuring current and recently retired NHL players and minor leaguers.
Gretzky, who is attending the U.S. Open to watch his daughter's fiance, Dustin Johnson, compete this weekend, is heading down early next week and will suit up for a 4-on-4 game to be played in Sydney on June 25.
The objective is to increase hockey's profile in Australia and raise money for STOPCONCUSSIONS Foundation and Brain Injury Australia.
Gretzky is no stranger to being a hockey ambassador after helping the NHL make inroads in California, when he played in Los Angeles, and then in Arizona, when he co-owned and coached the Coyotes.
Australia, however, is essentially uncharted territory, even though it's been a member of the International Ice Hockey Federation since 1938.
Ice Hockey Australia lists only 4,200 registrants out of a population of about 28 million, according to the IIHF.
Gretzky is undeterred.
"Listen, in 1988, we had only 6,000 people show up at an L.A. Kings game. It takes time," he said, recalling his first season with the Kings.
"The weather's a hindrance, there's no question it's very hot down there," Gretzky said. "But once kids do participate in the game of hockey, they love it. So that's what we're trying to do. We're trying to raise awareness more than anything."
It helps that the series will feature some colorful characters.
They include John Scott, the journeyman enforcer who became an overnight sensation for defying the NHL and electing to compete in the 2016 NHL All-Star game, in which he was selected as the MVP.
The U.S. team is coached by Dave Hanson, who became famous for his role as one of the Hanson Brothers in the 1977 movie, "Slap Shot," starring Paul Newman.
"First off, we want to take down some players who can actually play," Gretzky said. "But on the other side of it is, you want to take down people with some personalities and some love and passion for the sport, who will go that extra mile away from the arena."
The trip to Australia comes at a time when Gretzky's impact on hockey in America's southwest is becoming evident, and days after the Great One mourned the death of his idol, Gordie Howe.
This week, the NHL is expected to announce it is expanding into Las Vegas.
On Friday, Auston Matthews, who grew up a Coyotes fan in Scottsdale, Arizona, is projected to be selected with the first pick in the NHL draft.
"Did we think No. 1 pick overall? Maybe not," Gretzky said, referring to ever envisioning someone from Arizona being a top prospect.
"But we knew there were some great players and great kids coming out of those areas because there's great athletes that live there."
Gretzky played down the impact he had in transforming the NHL's landscape.
"A small role," Gretzky acknowledged. He instead credited the work done by his Kings teammates, including Luc Robitaille, and contemporaries: From Brett Hull playing in St. Louis to Detroit's Steve Yzerman; from Mario Lemieux in Pittsburgh and Mark Messier's decision to play for the New York Rangers.
"Listen, I got lucky when I came along and went to L.A.," Gretzky said. "One guy can't change the sport. When you have four or five, six guys that go to another level, it really helps."
And yet, he can't help but wonder what influence this hockey series might have in Australia.
"Nobody ever thought a kid from Arizona would be a No. 1 pick," Gretzky said. "So what's to stop an Australian kid being the No. 1 pick 20 years from now?"
Replica Office of HM Ron Southern
Calgary Herald article: Replica office recreates corner of Spruce Meadow founder's life
Spruce Meadows has developed a bit of an office complex.
But it doesn’t come with any self-consciousness in celebrating two recently-departed founders of the prestigious equestrian complex.
At Meadowcourt overlooking the International ring, visitors can stroll down Memory Lane which recreates in great detail the office of Spruce Meadows co-found and one-time Calgary business titan Ron Southern.
It’s also a shrine of sorts to riding master Albert Kley, who died two weeks before the passing of Southern last January.
Peering through the glass enclosing the wood panelled office full of mementoes and belongings chronicling Southern’s life, Bas French also sees himself.
He smiles back in several photos going back decades in a lengthy ATCO and Spruce Meadows relationship with Southern.
“They’ve done a great job,” said French of the space that reaches back to the 1940s origins of Southern’s business life.
He noted an original 1957 sketch drawn by Southern of a trailer unit designed for an oilpatch client.
Some of Southern’s many honours and decorations are laid out, along with more humble items, such as a Starbucks cup atop his desk, recalling the man’s coffee preference.
A gifted First Nations ceremonial headdress overlooks photos and items indicating Southern’s admiration for Winston Churchill.
Nearby is a world map denoting the man’s globetrotting, a typical tool for a man who loved his charts and tables, said Spruce Meadows senior vice-president Ian Allison.
“Mr. Southern was a very visual person,” he said.
Hovering over an elegant wooden desk is a photo of the Queen Elizabeth II, smiling broadly with a horse during her Spruce Meadows visit in the early 1990s.
The replica office provokes many emotions and recollections, said Southern’s daughter Linda Southern-Heathcott, Spruce Meadows CEO.
“The replica office is really stunning — it is a part of him,” said Southern-Heathcott.
It’s not just the visuals that are an accurate depiction, she said.
“There’s a few cigars…we may have seasoned it so it smells just right,” she said.
The workspace depicts Southern’s office as it once was in the ATCO building in downtown Calgary.
An exhibit paying tribute to Kley is nearby, also attracting the sentimental gaze of long-time friend Bas French.
In one photo, he spies an older house in Kley’s native Germany.
“It’s hard to believe I visited that house, after so many years,” said French.
“Albert was such a great guy with such high standards.”
Kley came to Canada in 1971 and teamed up with the Southerns in managing Hanoverian horses.
“He was the only person who’d been here longer than me,” said Allison, who’s been a staffer at Spruce Meadows since the mid-1970s.
Joey Moss & Wayne Gretzky
Global News article: People Magazine highlights friendship between Wayne Gretzky and Joey Moss
For Edmontonians, Joey Moss is a familiar face, especially around NHL and CFL games. But now, the world is getting to know the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame inductee thanks to a People Magazine feature.
The article focuses on the decades-long friendship between Moss and hockey superstar Wayne Gretzky.
The two met when Gretzky was just 20 years old. He was dating Moss’ sister at the time.
“Pretty much from the day I met him I was conscious that I wanted to make sure he was taken care of,” Gretzky told People Magazine.
Moss, now 55, has Down syndrome. In the 35 years they’ve known each other, he and Gretzky have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the Winnifred Stewart Association, which supports adults with developmental disabilities.
“The heart he presents is second to none,” said Vicky Andress with the WSA. “He shows people that there is a role for our individuals to be contributing members of our society and there’s a lot we can learn from folks like Joe.”
In 1984, Moss became a locker-room attendant for the Edmonton Oilers and has been a fixture since, through four Stanley Cup championships and the more recent tough times.
“Wayne ran it by the organization and the rest is history,” said Stephen Moss, Joey’s younger brother and guardian.
In 1986, Moss also become a locker-room assistant for the Edmonton Eskimos.
Moss continues to split his time between the two teams, working with the Eskimos from the opening of training camp in June through mid-August, before heading over to the Oilers locker-room for the hockey season.
In 2015, Moss was inducted into the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame. Moss was also recognized in 2012 with a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.
In the People Magazine article, Moss’ brother Stephen said “Joey and Wayne” “have just always just gotten along like peas and carrots.”
The feature hit newstands Friday.
Joey & Oilers Fans singing O Canada: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=meLpuF9UMvk
2016 Inductees in the Media!
The Alberta Sports Hall of Fame's 2016 Induction Banquet took place on June 3, 2016. It was a wonderful event celebrating the 2016 Inductees and all of their amazing accomplishments.
Here are several articles about the new Inductees, the returning Honoured Members, and the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame's Induction Banquet.
- Schalm inducted into Hall of Fame
- Alberta Sports Hall of Fame hockey builder Shirley Cameron proud of pioneering women's game
- Alberta Sports Hall of Fame inductee Warren Hansen still working to grow curling
- Former Olympic curler Bernard highlights 2016 Alberta Sports Hall of Fame inductees
Cache Valley Daily.com:
- Three former Utah State football players to be inducted into the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame
Medicine Hat News:
- Kelly in Red Deer for induction
- Inside the CFL: Brothers a success in and out of football world
Big 105.5 The Drive News:
- Hall of Fame Welcomes Diverse Class of Inductees
Utah State Aggies:
- Three Former Utah State Football Players to be Inducted Into the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame
Inductee Tom Forzani in the News!
When Calgary Stampeders alumnus Tom Forzani stepped onto the links at Medicine Hat Golf and Country Club Friday for the 18th annual United Way CFL Alumni Tournament, the first thing he noticed was how much older everyone looked.
Everyone but him, that is.
"They all look so old. Every time I look in the mirror it looks like I've never changed, though," said Forzani, adding the game truly does take a toll on the body. "They're a reminder, especially the way they walk. It's a tough game, once you get to about 60, those little creaks become thunder."
While the weather played an unwelcome hand —as rain and lightning postponed the event for a few hours — Forzani's brother, former teammate and business partner Joe says it was still a great chance to mingle with old friends and foes while drumming up funds and awareness for the United Way.
"I play in a lot of these tournaments and it surprises me how many dedicated, loyal football fans there are, in small towns in particular," said Joe, who will be inducted into the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame next week alongside his brother. "It's nice to touch base with people, everybody always has a million questions, but I think the bottom line is being able to lend my name and past sports experiences to making money for charity and helping out the under-priviliged."
Thirty alumnus from the Stamps, Saskatchewan Roughriders, Winnipeg Blue Bombers and Edmonton Eskimos were on hand to interact with loyal fans, share memories of the gridiron with old teammates and opponents and raise money for the United Way of South Eastern Alberta.
Former Edmonton Eskimos quarterback Tom Wilkinson added it was nice to see the turnout of alumni, even his former foes, but no rivalries were reinstated on the greens.
"I'm way past competitive ... But it's really good to see a lot of the guys you play with, but the guys you played against as well," said Wilkinson, now 73, who was determined to hit the fairways once the lightning subsided. "I've always sworn I won't play in the rain but today I want to play anyway."
Inductee Graham Kelly in the News!
Graham Kelly has been recognized nationally for his sports writing, and will be honoured provincially next week for his decades covering Canadian football.
Soon, the city could be recognizing his achievements, as Kelly was recommended for induction to the Medicine Hat Sports Wall of Fame.
The recommendation was made at the April 20 meeting of the Urban Environment and Recreation Advisory Board and was brought forward at Tuesday's Public Service's committee meeting. The final decision will be made by City Council at its next meeting.
Garry James, a member of the advisory board, said Kelly was deemed a worthy nominee based on the criteria the wall of fame has in place.
"We discovered that Graham hit 100 per cent of the different items of criteria we had," he said, noting Kelly has been recognized locally, provincially and nationally for his work.
This year, Kelly will be entering his 44th year of covering the CFL for the Medicine Hat News, making him the longest-running columnist in the paper's history. He has published seven books about the history of the league, and has interviewed the biggest names who have ever played the sport.
Kelly, a former city councillor, was inducted into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame as a reporter in 2002, and enters the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame on June 3 as the recipient of the Bell Memorial Award, awarded to members of the media who have made a significant contribution to athletics in the province.
The last induction for the Medicine Hat Sports Wall of Fame, which is on display at the Family Leisure Centre, was made in 2014. Darryl "Rud" Henderson, a Medicine Hat archer who received 35 medals in local, provincial and national competitions, and former president of the Redhat Archers Club, received the honour.
There are currently 20 names on the wall of fame, ranging from NHL player Trevor Linden to Medicine Hat's Mr. Baseball, Lovell McDonnell.