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 Article from Yorkton This Week: History Corner - Hockey Star of the past, Stan Obodiac of Yorkton

Stan Obodiac died in 1984 at age 62. His last occupation had been Publicity Director for the Toronto Maple Leafs for 26 years. Except for a stint as a pilot in World War II hockey consumed Stan’s life. He grew up in Yorkton in the years of radio broadcasts listening to the National Hockey League games announced by famed Foster Hewitt.

Stan played with the Lethbridge Maple Leafs. He won a gold medal in 1951 as lead scorer at the World Ice Hockey Championship in Paris, France. The Lethbridge team was inducted to the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame the same year. He coached and played on European teams in Great Britain and Switzerland between 1948 to 1955.

In 1978, Obodiac wrote an article published in “The Reporter,” the title being Hockey Explained to Other Nations. He started off by giving credit to our Canadian winters for the passionate interest in hockey. He goes so far as to state that it was not so much the building of the Canadian Pacific Railway from east to west that bound the country together but the voice of hockey on the radio, and later since 1952 on television.

Here are a few excerpts from the article: “The hockey players who take to the ice before they can properly walk or swim, progress to tykes, atoms, peewees. Midgets, juveniles, juniors, seniors, professionals, and oldtime hockey. Upon retirement, it is just as much an honour for a hockey player to be elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame as it is to become a Senator or receive the Order of Merit from the country. These kudos and manifestations of love for the sport are not excessive when you consider that Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto has not had a single unsold seat for Leaf Hockey since 1946. The demand is almost as great in Montreal and Vancouver, two of the other Canadian metropolis in the National Hockey League.”

Today, this very strong bonding of Canadians with hockey that Obodiac speaks of has become ever so evident after the death toll of 16, and the suffering of the wounded from the bus crash of the Humbolt Junior Hockey Team on April 6th. It is a time of overwhelming grief for families, friends and for our nation, and sympathizers of other countries across the world. The moments of silence held in great numbers of places, the vigils, people helping in various ways and the outstanding results of fundraising to assist all concerned provides the proof of this strong bonding.