HONOURING THEIR GREATS
Taken from the Regina Pats - Royal Franchise Book - by Co-Auther Darrell Davis
Seven jersey numbers can’t be worn by future Regina Pats — 1, 8, 9, 12, 14, 16, 17. That’s because they have been retired to honour the legendary careers of former players Ed Staniowski (1), Brad Hornung (8), Clark Gillies (9), Doug Wickenheiser (12), Dennis Sobchuk (14), Dale Derkatch (16) and Bill Hicke (17). Hicke’s was the first number retired, which happened the year after he completed his junior hockey career in 1958, linking him forever with a franchise that he eventually returned to as a part-owner, coach and general manager. Derkatch’s number was retired in December, 1998, 13 years after his junior career ended. Wickenheiser’s number was retired posthumously and Hornung’s was retired in the aftermath of an on-ice incident that left him paralysed. Staniowski, Gillies and Sobchuk share one very important reason for why their careers are remembered with the team’s ultimate tribute: They won a Memorial Cup together in 1974.
When a junior hockey franchise has been around since 1917, there are bound to be numerous players deemed worthy of having their numbers retired. In 2008 the Pats, under the guidance of majority owner Russ Parker and general manager Brent Parker, also decided to honour the team’s builders, so another banner was raised bearing the names of former coaches/players Bob Turner and Lorne Davis and former scout/assistant general manager Graham Tuer.
As the franchise gets older there will be more names hoisted to the rafters of the Brandt Centre, or wherever else the Regina Pats will play their home games. Maybe Fran Huck will be honoured for his memorable efforts in the 1960's, Eddie Litzenberger in the early 1950's or Colton Teubert and Jordan Eberle, the team’s stars when the franchise turned 91 years old.
As of the team’s 90th birthday, this was the group of honourees.
Known as Steady Eddie during his career as a Regina Pats goaltender, Ed Staniowski was indeed the security blanket needed for the run-and-gun squad he backstopped to the 1974 Memorial Cup. Born in Moose Jaw, where he played hockey before moving to Regina, Staniowski was initially the backup goaltender to Pats veteran Bernie Germaine. Staniowski became the starter during his second season, 1972-73, when he played 63 of the team’s 68 games and posted a 3.79 goals-against average. After a surprising run in the 1971-72 postseason, the Pats had been expected to challenge for a national championship in the following campaign before swooning in the playoffs.
Staniowski remained the main puck-stopper in 1973-74, a season capped by Regina’s last Memorial Cup championship. Staniowski was Regina’s goalie for 62 regular-season games (with a 3.06 GAA) and all 19 playoff contests, when he allowed only 2.94 goals per game. Because he was one year younger than some of his graduating teammates, Staniowski remained with the Pats through 1974-75, when he was the Western Canadian Junior Hockey League’s first-team, all-star goalie, was named the outstanding player in Canadian major junior hockey, represented Canada at the world junior hockey championships and was picked up by the league-champion New Westminster Bruins for their appearance in the Memorial Cup.
“Arguably the foundation for the ’73-’74 team was laid when (head coach) Bob Turner and (general manager) Del Wilson started to bring players like Dennis Sobchuk, Mike Wanchuk and Clark Gillies to Regina in ’71-’72,’’ said Staniowski. “Over the next two seasons local players like Kim MacDougall, Bill Bell, Rob Laird and Glen Burdon were added. Bob Turner and Del Wilson seemed to appreciate what part each player could play and what was expected of them. There is no doubt that Bob and Del took each and every player to task at one point or another. And we were better for it. The team they built had it all: defence, goal scorers, checkers, fighters, power play and penalty killers. Playing for the ’73-’74 Pats was a goaltender’s dream. The defence in front of me was a wall. If you let in a bad goal then the guys would get you two goals back. If you were getting screened or pushed around, then guys like Clark and Rob would put it right. The end result, by the spring of ’74, was the Pats were a team that could out-skate, out-shoot, out-score and out-muscle any junior team in Canada. There is no question that one of the defining periods for the team was the trip to Sweden (for the Ahearne Cup) over Christmas of 1973. The common adversity that came from being together in a foreign country, over Christmas, playing against pro and semi-pro teams on Olympic-sized ice meshed us, out of necessity. When we returned to Canada we were definitely ‘a team’ and nothing stood in our way until we were playing for the Memorial Cup in Calgary.’’
Staniowski was selected 27th overall by the St. Louis Blues in the 1975 NHL draft. During his 10-year NHL career, which included a few trips to the minors, he was traded twice — to the Winnipeg Jets in 1981 and the Hartford Whalers in 1983. After retiring as a hockey player, Staniowski joined the Canadian Armed Forces. A Lieutenant-Colonel in the Princess Patricia Canadian Light Infantry — the regiment from which the Pats drew their name — Staniowski had been deployed to Afghanistan in 2008 when contacted for information about his Regina Pats career and the retirement of his jersey. Staniowski responded via e-mail.
“Your first question is rather significant considering where I am (Afghanistan) and the importance of teamwork in this place and under these conditions,’’ wrote Staniowski. “As you noted, ‘it’s 34 years and counting’ since the Pats won the Memorial Cup. Since that ’73-’74 season, I have been fortunate to be a part of many hockey teams including Team Canada juniors, Team Canada NHL and 10 pro seasons with three NHL teams. Since retiring from hockey I have had over 20 years of teamwork with the military. All to say the ’73-’74 Regina Pats team and the ’74 Memorial Cup victory were the defining experiences and examples of teamwork in my life.’’
Staniowski and Gillies had their jerseys retired together on February 18, 2000, before a Pats game at the Agridome.
“I was fortunate enough to be in the right place and at the right time,’’ said Staniowski. “In the context of sports, I was able to be a part of a team that allowed me to be all that one can be. I owe every Pats player who I ever stepped on the ice with, a great deal. They are my friends for life and they are the reason my sweater’s in the rafters.’’
On March 1, 1987, the Pats were finishing their regular season with a game against the Moose Jaw Warriors, when Brad Hornung — a hard-working, 18-year-old centre — was sent crashing into the Agridome’s boards following a collison with Moose Jaw’s Troy Edwards. Hornung suffered a broken neck and was paralysed from the neck down. A young player who had given so much to the Pats, more than anyone can imagine, Hornung’s affiliation with the team was made permanent by the retirement of his jersey.
“It’s neat. It is amazing,’’ said Hornung. “I often forget about it until somebody points it out to me. I think, sometimes I look at the other names and think, ‘My name doesn’t really belong with those guys.’ But I certainly appreciate the fact that it’s there. It’s a flattering thing for me. It’s a really nice gesture. I enjoy the fact I’m affiliated with the Pats.’’
Doug Sauter, who was Regina’s head coach, mobilized a charitable foundation that helped raise money to purchase a specially-equipped van for Hornung’s use. The team gave him lifetime season tickets. In a wheelchair, Brad Hornung regularly attends Pats games and sees his name beside Dale Derkartch, who was for one game a teammate, and Dennis Sobchuk, the Pats assistant coach when Hornung was injured.
“Dennis Sobchuk was our assistant coach,’’ said Hornung. “He was one of the best players in junior hockey, ever. So I knew about the Memorial Cup team and the great team they had. I saw Doug Wickenheiser play a little bit. Dale Derkatch, too. One of my first games, when I played as a 15-year-old, was Dale’s last game as a 20-year-old. It was the year they brought him back (from Europe as an overage junior). I didn’t see the ice once. We were down to about 12 guys, with injuries and everything, and (Pats GM/head coach Bob) Strumm still didn’t play me. Oh, Strummer, what a guy! They were a gutsy group, great individuals with Derkatch and Grimmer (Stu Grimson) and all the rest.’’
Like his late father Larry, a former pro hockey player, Brad Hornung worked for a while as an NHL scout. Larry played junior hockey against the Pats as a member of the Weyburn Red Wings. Brad knew the history.
“If I didn’t play for the Pats, I probably wouldn’t have played major junior,’’ said Brad Hornung. “It was my home-town team, so I could stay at home and play. I learned a lot from my coaches, but I learned a lot about from my dad, too. My dad always told me, ‘The coach is always right. Even when they’re wrong, they’re right.’ That helped me a lot. Living at home made it easier. If I had to leave somewhere I probably would have gone to college. I really thought about that. There was no option of going elsewhere. At a young age I didn’t really want to leave home.’’
Hornung learned about the Pats in bits and pieces. He had watched the team as a youngster and grew up playing minor hockey in Regina. He got to play one game in 1984-85, another 64 (with 17 goals and 18 assists) in 1985-86, followed by 10 playoff games (two goals, two assists), and had scored 32 goals and 34 assists in 61 WHL games when his playing career ended in 1986-87.
“I heard about the guys who used to play, the guys who built the Pats into what the team is now. It’s part of the legacy,’’ said Hornung. “When I made the Pats I couldn’t believe I was on the team. The guys I was playing with, some of the older guys, I remember watching. Len Nielsen is a couple years older than I am. Watching him and playing with him I learned a lot. My first year with Doug (Sauter), our top players were excellent: Lenny, Mark Janssens, Craig Endean, they had made a big trade to get him. We just didn’t have the depth that first year with Doug. (Photo: Regina Leader Post Newspaper - file)
“Doug is a motivating guy. He wanted you to be the best you could be. He tried to motivate you by telling you things. He would be hard on you, but you know he was telling the scouts and everybody different things, that you were a great player. He still is a motivating guy. He still motivates me by his energy. He has always encouraged me to do things, to travel, to meet people.’’
Just two months before Hornung’s accident, the WHL had dealt with the tragedy of a bus crash that claimed the lives of four Swift Current Broncos — Trent Kresse, Scott Kruger, Chris Mantyka and Brent Ruff — as their team travelled to a game in Regina. The league responded by naming the award for its outstanding player the Four Broncos Memorial Trophy. The league also continued distributing an annual award to its most sportsmanlike player, which was re-named the Brad Hornung Trophy.
Only one true-blue member of the Regina Pats is in the Hockey Hall of Fame: strong, fearless, hulking left winger Clark Gillies, who won a Memorial Cup with the Pats in 1973-74, his final season of junior eligibility before being drafted fourth overall by the New York Islanders.
Gillies was a practical joker off the ice and somebody not to be messed with on the ice. He became a key member of the Islanders, along with defenceman Denis Potvin and forwards Mike Bossy and Bryan Trottier, who were sometimes Gillies’ linemates on a team that won four straight Stanley Cups between 1980-83. Gillies spent 12 of his 14 NHL seasons with the Islanders and had his number 9 retired by the franchise in 1996. Four years later the Pats followed suit.Gillies scored 319 regular-season goals and had 378 assists in the NHL, plus he had 47 goals and 47 assists in 147 playoff games. As a 6-foot-3, 210-pound junior, these were his seasonal totals with the Pats: 31 goals and 48 assists with 199 penalty minutes in 1971-72; 40 goals and 52 assists with 192 penalty minutes in 1972-73; and 46 goals and 66 assists with 179 penalty minutes in 1973-74. Gillies also played 38 playoff games for the Pats, registering 15 goals and 24 assists.
“I’ll never forget the success we had there and what a stepping stone it was to the NHL,’’ said Gillies. “I was just this snotty-nosed, 15-year-old kid coming out of Moose Jaw. I wasn’t even sure I was good enough to play in Regina. I had a great opportunity. I don’t mince words on that. Playing with two of the top goal-scoring players in junior hockey (linemates Dennis Sobchuk and Mike Wanchuk, Regina Pats famous Rookie line - (1970-71). I was given a wonderful position to make a name for myself. As long as I played professional hockey, it was always an opportunity to say, ‘Excuse me, how many guys in this room have won a Memorial Cup? Anybody? OK, good. I was just checking.’ I knew the answer, so it was an opportunity to bust on somebody. I would always use the Memorial Cup thing to bust on the guys when they’d ask if you ever accomplished anything. ‘Anybody won one of these, too?’ (Photo: Hockey Hall of fame - HHOF # 000040-0134 London Life - Portnov)
“I’ve always taken a lot out of my Regina experience. I never thought I would like Regina. But I did. I enjoyed Regina. Growing up it was always Moose Jaw, Moose Jaw, Moose Jaw. We never liked anybody from Regina. Even the Pla-Mors and the Caps, the Canucks and the
Pats, it was always a rivalry. I’ve never seen the Moose Jaw Civic Centre so hopping as when you had a Moose Jaw-Regina game, with people cheering for Moose Jaw or vice versa. That went all the way down through midget and bantam. When we played a team from Regina we wanted to kick their butt. We didn’t always do it. All of a sudden I get invited to play for the Pats, I didn’t know how I was going to break it to my folks.At that time there was no (major junior hockey) team in Moose Jaw, so it was an opportunity for me. But if we had a Western Canada Hockey League team in Moose Jaw, I probably would have played for them and been very happy there. It’s amazing how problems create opportunities. Not having a team in Moose Jaw was a problem, but it created a great opportunity to go to the Pats. Who knows what would have happened if I didn’t go to Regina? I was a pretty good baseball player when I was younger. Everybody asks, ‘Do you wish you had played baseball?’ No. They tell me I could still be playing. The thing about winning is you don’t have to play too long if you win a few championships.’’
Another player with a short-lived Pats connection, defenceman Al MacInnis, was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2007. MacInnis had been with the Regina Pat Blues, a farm team playing in the Saskatchewan Amateur Junior Hockey League, and was called up for two games with the Pats in 1979-80 before returning home to Nova Scotia and subsequently joining the Ontario Hockey Association’s Kitchener Rangers. Before his Hall-worthy career in the NHL, MacInnis also won a Memorial Cup as a junior in 1981-1982.
Number 12: Doug Wickenheiser -
Only one of the banners dangling from the Brandt Centre’s beams is adorned with a candle. That one commemorates Doug Wickenheiser, whose hockey nickname quite naturally was “Wick.’’ The logo is similar to the one used by the Fourteen Fund, a charity founded by the St. Louis Blues, the NHL team Wickenheiser played with from 1983-87. A banner bearing 14 and a candlewick also hangs inside the Blues’ home arena.
Wickenheiser wore Number 12 with the Pats from 1977-80. Pats general manager Brent Parker had Wickenheiser’s number retired on March 13, 1999, two months and one day after Wick died from cancer in St. Louis at the age of 37.
“It’s an honour,’’ said his younger brother, Kurt Wickenheiser, who played with the Pats from 1981-85 and had an extensive career in North American and European professional leagues.
“Doug was such a class act on and off the ice. I looked up to him all the time. To see his number up there, it’s a great thing Brent Parker did for Doug and our family. It’s a special crest too; the St. Louis Blues started that when he was going through his cancer. The burning light. Hopefully the wick didn’t burn out, but unfortunately it did.’’
After tearing through Regina’s minor hockey ranks as a prolific scorer, one who was always pushed ahead to play with the older group, Wickenheiser joined the Regina Pat Blues and tallied 88 points in 59 games in 1976-77.
In 1977-78, on a Pats team that barely made the playoffs, he had 37 goals and 51 assists, adding four goals and five assists in 13 playoff games as Regina eliminated the powerful Brandon Wheat Kings in a round-robin series that also included the Flin Flon Bombers. Regina missed the playoffs in 1978-79, despite Wickenheiser’s 32 goals and 62 assists. (Photo: Regina Leader Post Newspaper - file)
With new general manager Bob Strumm adding players and head coach Bryan Murray instilling discipline and a lethal power play in 1979-80, Wickenheiser set team records with 89 goals and 170 points while the Pats posted a 47-24-1 record. (It should be noted that Strumm told his home-town scorekeepers that every Pats goal should have two assists, a move that certainly padded Wickenheiser’s points totals.) In 18 playoff games, Wickenheiser had 14 goals and 26 assists as the Pats marched to the WHL championship. They moved into the Memorial Cup, a three-team round-robin hosted by Brandon and Regina. The Pats lost twice in Brandon and once in Regina before thumping the Cornwall Royals, but the victory simply set up a ridiculous situation that allowed the Peterborough Petes to lose their next game against Cornwall, effectively choosing the Royals (instead of the Pats) as their opponent in the final. Cornwall fittingly won the championship. Wickenheiser was distraught with how he played, even though Cornwall and Peterborough had geared its defensive strategies to prevent him from having any room. Wickenheiser had only one goal and four assists in four games.
During the Memorial Cup festivities he was named Canada’s outstanding junior hockey player and he was subsequently drafted first overall by the Montreal Canadiens. Teammates Darren Veitch and Mike Blaisdell also became first-round draft choices. Big, agile and a prolific scorer, Wickenheiser seemed destined for a great NHL career. But facing all that pressure in hockey-mad Montreal, whose fans were dismayed the Canadiens didn’t draft hometown hero Denis Savard, Wickenheiser played 3 1/2 mediocre seasons before being one of three players dealt to the St. Louirs Blues for Perry Turnbull. Wickenheiser’s career seemed back on track, until an off-ice accident during a team outing (he was hit by a vehicle during the Blues’ “snipe hunt’’), caused a serious knee injury that forced him to miss most of the 1985-86 season. He rehabilitated his knee and scored one of the biggest goals in Blues history, winning a Monday Night Miracle playoff game in overtime against the Calgary Flames. St. Louis left him unprotected in 1987 and he was claimed by the Vancouver Canucks, one of three NHL teams he would later play with (along with the New York Rangers and Washington Capitals) before heading to Europe for two seasons and playing in the International Hockey League for two more. He retired in 1994 and lived in St. Louis with his family while undergoing cancer treatments.
“Having Doug’s number retired brings back good memories of his time with the team,’’ said Kurt Wickenheiser. “He didn’t give me any advice when I made the team; he had enough pressure on him at that time. He congratulated me, but he had his own things to worry about. Unfortunately for me, it’s sad, I never got to watch him play live (in the NHL) because I was always playing. I never missed a game when he was playing for the Regina Pats. Those are the good ol’ days when we could act up and enjoy ourselves. Blazer, (Darren) Bobyck, Veitchy, those guys were a very close team, too. That was a heck of a team. They should have won it all. Unfortunately Peterborough threw that game. That’s life.’’
The Western Hockey League honours its outstanding humanitarian each year with the Doug Wickenheiser Memorial Trophy.
Dennis Sobchuk was born in Lang, a town about 70 kilometres south of Regina, and played mostof his minor hockey in the small city of Weyburn, where he was often teamed with future NHL instigator Dave (Tiger) Williams. Williams would later play for the Swift Current Broncos, a team that presented the Pats with one of their greatest challenges en route to winning the 1974 memorial Cup. Sobchuk nearly ended up playing for a different team, too.
“My first game in the Western Hockey League was against the Pats,’’ said Sobchuk. “When the Pats signed (Sobchuk’s older brother) Geno, he had played for the Weyburn Red Wings the year before. That was when Regina took its sabbatical from major junior. Territorial rights had me owned by the Estevan Bruins, because every Western Hockey League Team had the rights to players within 200 miles of the centre. I’m from Lang, which was within 200 miles of Estevan. I went to training camp with Regina because (Bruins head coach/general manager) Ernie McLean allowed me to go. He said, ‘Yeah, you’re only 16, so you’ll be coming back.’ When Regina finally cut me, because they didn’t own me and were just doing a nice thing for me, they told me to go to Weyburn. I went to Weyburn. Stan Dunn was the coach, and he told me to go back to Lang. Nobody wanted me. It was all, ‘Yeah, yeah.’ But I went to Weyburn and played in their (intras- quad) red-and-white game and got five goals. It amazed me!
“The next day Stan Dunn called me in and told me they wanted to sign me. I asked for two things: A pair of skates — they told me they would split a pair of Tacks with me, $66 that we would split 50-50 — and for my brother’s number, Number 12. I did pretty well. I ended up leading Weyburn in scoring, I don’t know where that ended up in the SJHL, but it was pretty high. Estevan ended up calling me up for about five games. My first game was in Estevan against the Regina Pats. I had one shift; it was a brawl. Everybody on the ice got kicked out. I grabbed (Pats defenceman) Dwight Bialowas. I’m 16! I learned two things in my hockey career — never look anybody in the eye and never pick a fighter. So we tussled a little bit. In those days, the referees threw out everybody who was on the ice. After the game Ernie gave me 20 bucks and said, ‘OK, kid. Go home.’ I got thrown out of my first game, had played in the Western Hockey League, had some money and I thought I was in seventh heaven.
Sobchuk was one of 11 rookies to join the Pats for their 1971-72 season in the Western Canada Hockey League, after general manager Del Wilson sent five players to Estevan in exchange for the shifty centre. Sobchuk finished fourth, second and first in league scoring during his three seasons with the Pats, tallying 56 goals and 67 assists as a rookie, 67 goals and 80 assists in 1972-73 and 68 goals and 78 assists in his final season. At the end of the 1973-74 season, when the Bob Turner-coached squad won the Memorial Cup, Sobchuk held the team record for career points (416) and the Pats retired his jersey.
He was already destined for the upstart World Hockey Association, which had wooed him away from the NHL with a 10-year, million-dollar contract. While waiting for his team, the Cincinnati Stingers to build an arena, Sobchuk spent one WHA season with the Phoenix Roadrunners. After 2 1/2 years with Cincinnati, which had also signed Gene Sobchuk, Dennis was dealt to the Edmonton Oilers. Upon the WHA’s demise he joined the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings for part of the 1979-80 season, before being demoted to the American Hockey League and comleting his career with two seasons in Europe and a two-game NHL stint with the Quebec Nordiques in 1982-83. In 1985, incoming Pats coach/GM Doug Sauter convinced Sobchuk to become the team’s assistant coach. He held that job for two years before an abbreviated turn in 1987-88 as the head coach/general manager. (Photo: Hockey Hall of Fame - HHOF # 000054-0158 O-Pee-Chee)
“I’m glad I went back to coach,’’ said Sobchuk. “It made me spend more sleepless nights thinking about what I did to Turner. It made me think, ‘I deserve now to be a coach.’ I looked back, we were young, everything was great, we were on top of the world, and the whole team was like that. Earl Ingarfield (who guided the Pats in 1971-72) might have been my best coach, certainly the best coach I could have had at the time for giving me confidence. I was nobody when I joined the Pats. I remember when Geno was signing with the Pats, Turner and Wilson turned to me and asked if I played hockey, too. I was a happy-go-lucky kid of 15 or 16, so in a nice gesture they said, ‘Well, come to training camp.’ For me, that was the world. It’s hard to explain what the Pats mean, but for a kid from southern Saskatchewan, the Pats were carried on CKCK radio, written about in the Leader-Post, all this stuff. There was only one major team in Saskatchewan. The others are all good teams, but because of the media attention, when you’re a little kid all you hear is ‘Regina Pats, Regina Pats.’ When I met Fran Huck the first time, and I can say he’s a friend now, but all I could say was, ‘Wow, that’s Fran Huck!’ Somebody could say, ‘Yeah, you’ve got more goals than Fran.’ I still say, ‘But that’s Fran Huck!’ An organization that’s been around for 90 years gets like that. Another one for me was Larry Wright. Such a smooth player, everything.
“When I coached inside the new (Agridome) I thought it would have been a nice place to play, but because of the aura of Exhibition Stadium, I think we were up a goal before anybody put on their skates to play against us. It was like the Montreal Forum or Maple Leaf Gardens, where they already had Turk Broda coming out of the dressing room. One of by best friends, who became my mentor, was Bill Hicke. As big an honour as it was having my number retired, it was an even bigger honour because it was right beside Bill Hicke’s number. When I go in there and see that, it’s such an honour to be up there for doing something you wanted to be doing. It’s up there with Brad Hornung’s number; I was coaching Brad when he was injured and he’s being honoured for what he gave to the team and to the game.
“It’s tradition. There’s probably no better tradition in hockey than the Montreal Canadiens and the Regina Pats.’’
Of course Dale Derkatch’s jersey would be retired. Born in Preeceville, raised in Winnipeg and a member of the Pats from 1981-85, Derkatch set the team’s regular-season scoring records with 222 goals, 269 and 491 points. He sits atop the legendary team’s list of legendary players, but never really realized it until he spent a day inside the Brandt Centre with his children, attending a circus, and he caught a glimpse of the Derkatch -16 banner dangling from the roof alongside tributes to the franchise’s other heroes.
“To tell you the truth, I didn’t really think too much about my name going up there in the rafters,’’ said Derkatch. “I was scouting (for the NHL’s Washington Capitals), so I was there all the time. I would rarely go to the Brandt Centre for games because I was too busy with my own hockey; if I could get a break, I took it.
“I was in there the other day, the circus was in town. I took my little boys, they’re four and one, and I looked up. It felt different. I don’t know why. It’s hard to explain. I’ve seen it all the time. I was in there every day, watching Pats games. Maybe it’s because I’m getting older. I’m getting a better feel. It’s a big honour. I know it’s awful, but as you get older, you appreciate it.
“I met everybody up there — Wickenheiser, Sobchuk, Hicke . . . It’s weird to think of myself as part of the history. I still think of myself as being really young. I guess you look up there and there’s all these people. The more I’m living here, the more I see the tradition. The Parkers are doing a good job of promoting that. There wasn’t a whole lot going on before.’’
Bob Strumm was the Pats’ general manager who convinced Derkatch to forgo college hockey and join the Pats. Derkatch had won a Canadian midget AAA hockey championship with the Notre Dame Hounds in 1980. He was the Western Hockey League’s rookie-of-the-year in 1981-82 after a 142-point season. He won the league’s scoring race in 1982-83 with 84 goals and 95 assists. They nearly won a league championship in 1984, coming within seconds of upsetting the Kamloops Oilers. And he twice represented Canada at the world junior championships, earning a bronze medal in 1983. But Derkatch’s prolific scoring never got him into the NHL. A seventh-round draft choice of the Edmonton Oilers in an era where size was more important than skill, 5-foot-5, 145-pound Derkatch was deemed to small to play in the NHL. So he played 14 seasons of professional hockey in Italy, Finland, Switzerland and Germany. After six years of scouting for the Capitals, in 2004 he returned to Notre Dame College in Wilcox, Saskatchewan, as its director of hockey development. In July, 2008, he was a candidate to become the Pats’ head coach after Curtis Hunt resigned to become an assistant with the NHL’s Ottawa Senators.
“It’s like a cycle,’’ said Derkatch. “Now I’ve gone around. I never thought I’d come back here.’’
Number 17: Billy Hicke -
Only 15 years old when he first got called up to play for his home-town Pats in the 1954-55 season, Bill Hicke was quickly dubbed “Billy the Kid’’ on a team laden with veterans Bill Kurtz, Bev Bell, Elmer Schwartz, Harvey Flaman, Harold Ottenbreit and Joe Selinger. He scored three goals in his debut against the Lethbridge Native Sons and was a regular in the playoffs, getting 11 goals and 20 assists in 29 postseason games that took the Pats into the 1955 Memorial Cup. Playing at home, the Pats beat the Toronto Marlboros 3-1 in the opener before losing the next four games, with the last two going to overtime.
Hicke had 46 points during his second season, 1955-56, as the team again advanced to meet the Marlboros in the Memorial Cup. Playing in Toronto this time, the Pats tied the first game before losing the next four.
Hicke played 50 games in 1956-57, tallying 52 goals and 48 assists. One year later the Pats were the SJHL’s first-place team and Hicke, named the loop’s most outstanding player, led the league with 97 points, including 54 goals, finishing two points ahead of teammate Red Berenson. Sponsored by the NHL’s Montreal Canadiens, the Pats had to get past the St. Boniface Canadiens to reach the Memorial Cup, where they met the Ottawa-Hull Canadiens. Hicke scored three goals in the opener, one of two games the Pats won in Ottawa before losing the best-of-seven series 4-2. On the playoff trail that year he had 48 points in 28 games. Hicke continued scoring as a pro: In 1958-59 he joined the American Hockey League’s Rochester Americans and was named the league’s outstanding player, top rookie and scoring leader with 41 goals and 97 points. The next year the Pats retired Bill Hicke’s number.
“I really didn’t get to see my brother play for the Pats,’’ said Ernie Hicke, Bill’s younger brother, who played for the Pats from1963-67 and also had an eight-year NHL career that included one season (1971-72) playing with his brother on the California Golden Seals. “I’m sure I watched him, but I don’t remember. I remember Gary Butler and Gord Wilkie and Gary Peters. I was the stickboy for a couple years when I was 10 and 11. There was a lot of pride back then. I wanted to play for them because my brother was. When I was playing for the Pats and he was in the National Hockey League, he came back and watched a couple times when we were in the playoffs. It was pretty cool back then to say your brother played for the Pats.
“I was still owned by Montreal after I left the Pats. Oakland made a trade and that’s how I ended up in Oakland. Bill was already there, he had played a year then. We were wearing white skates, everything was yellow. I’ve still got some of that stuff. The other day my wife said, ‘You’re getting rid of this stuff!’ I said, ‘No, I’m not.’ We got these suitcases, it’s the honest-to-God’s truth, that were green and yellow, with that really shiny, patent leather. You couldn’t miss our bags. It was a big thrill because not many brothers get to play together. With the way things were, he came through the Montreal Canadiens system, so did I, but he was at least 10 years ahead of me. I mean, he wasn’t around at the time, but if he was it would have been great.’’
Bill Hicke played 14 seasons of pro hockey, capping his first campaign with a postseason call up by Stanley Cup-winning Montreal in 1959. He played with the powerhouse Canadiens from 1959-64, was dealt to the New York Rangers in 1964, claimed by the Oakland Seals in 1967 and traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1971. He gave pro hockey one last fling with the World Hockey Association’s Alberta Oilers in 1972-73, before returning to Regina and purchasing Kyle’s Sporting Goods.
Always a gregarioius sort, who also sported a strong affections for his former junior team, Hicke, along with Jack Nicolle, Ted Knight and Morley Gusway, in 1986 bought the Pats from the Western Hockey League, which had purchased the franchise from Saskatoon’s Herb Pinder Jr. When that season ended, the owners replaced head coach Billy Moores with Doug Sauter, who lasted for two seasons. Dennis Sobchuk and Bernie Lynch shared coaching duties in 1988-89, before Hicke installed himself as general manager and hired Brad Tippett to be the head coach. That arrangement lasted for three-plus years, until Hicke stepped behind the bench, with help from assistants Al Dumba and Ross Mahoney. Norm Johnston served as coach in 1994-95, before Hicke’s ownership group sold the franchise to Calgary’s Russ and Diane Parker in the summer of 1995. Ten years later, on July 18, 2005, Hicke died in Regina at the age of 67.
“I wasn’t there when they retired it,’’ said Ernie Hicke. “I was in Regina for Billy’s funeral. My big brother, I wish my number were up there. He set some standards, some records that were there for a long, long time. He played when there were six (NHL) teams, I did, too, and that’s quite an accomplishment for somebody out of Regina, out of Saskatchewan for that matter.’’
Builders: Bob Turner, Graham Tuer and Lorne Davis
On February 29, 2008, the Pats raised another banner into the Brandt Centre’s rafters. Unlike the seven other pennants adorned with names and numbers of the Pats players they represent, the newest banner had three names on it — Bob Turner, Graham Tuer and Lorne Davis — with room for more. It was the Pats’ first step toward honouring the cornerstones of the franchise. The pennant will ultimately include names like Al Ritchie, Del Wilson and Mike Kartusch, other people who helped the Pats become one of the country’s best-known junior hockey franchises.
On February 29, 2008, the Pats raised another banner into the Brandt Centre’s rafters. Unlike the seven other pennants adorned with names and numbers of the Pats players they represent, the newest banner had three names on it — Bob Turner, Graham Tuer and Lorne Davis — with room for more. It was the Pats’ first step toward honouring the cornerstones of the franchise. The pennant will ultimately include names like Al Ritchie, Del Wilson and Mike Kartusch, other people who helped the Pats become one of the country’s best-known junior hockey franchises. (Photo: Saskatchewan Archives - (Regina Leader Post) RLP # 1637)
Turner grew up in Regina. A smooth-skating defenceman, he played for the Pats from 1951-54. In the days when the Pats were sponsored by the NHL’s Montreal Canadiens, Turner became property of that NHL team. After finishing his pro career in 1963, Turner returned to Regina and was hired by Pats manager Del Wilson to coach the Pats for their 1965-66 season in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League. Except for taking a couple of breaks to scout for the NHL’s Oakland Seals, Turner coached the Pats until January, 1977, when he was fired in the midst of a 36-game losing streak.
The Pats placed fourth in Turner’s first season (28-25-7) and lost in the second round of the SJHL playoffs. The Pats moved into the Western Canada Junior Hockey League the following season, placed third at 31-81-7, and lost the league final to the Moose Jaw Canucks. The Pats were fifth among the WCJHL’s 11 teams in 1967-68 and lasted only one playoff round; the WCJHL teams weren’t eligible to compete for the Memorial Cup that season because of a conflict with the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association over the age restrictions for junior players. But after rejoining the Saskatchewan Amateur Junior Hockey League along with the Weyburn Red Wings, Moose Jaw Canucks and Saskatoon Macs, the Pats defeated Moose Jaw, Weyburn, the Lethbridge Sugar Kings and Dauphin Kings and advanced to the 1969 Memorial Cup, where they were swept by the Montreal Junior Candiens, whose roster included 11 future NHLers.
Jack Shupe coached the Pats for one season before Turner returned in 1970-71, a season that ended with a first-round playoff loss to the Flin Flon Bombers. Turner stepped aside again for another season, allowing Earl Ingarfield Sr. to take over as a mentor for a young squad of recruits that would ultimately develop into the 1974 Memorial Cup-winning team.
In 1972-73, following a surprise appearance in the league final, Turner’s team couldn’t get past its divisional semifinal. But the next year was golden, as the Pats posted a 43-14-11 record and marched to the three-team, round-robin Memorial Cup in Calgary, which culminated with a 7-4, come-from-behind victory over the Quebec Remparts.
After losing star players Dennis Sobchuk, Clark Gillies, Greg Joly and Ed Staniowski to graduation, the Pats struggled through the following years. They lasted two playoff rounds in 1974-75 and were ousted after only one round in 1975-76, leading to the disastrous 1976-77 campaign when Turner was fired on January 10, 1977, and replaced by Lorne Davis.
Lorne Davis -
Davis was another product of Regina’s minor hockey system who played for the Pats. A right winger from 1946-50, Davis was also a Montreal Canadiens pupil who played for four of the Original Six NHL teams before winding down his playing career and be coming a scout, beginning with the St. Louis Blues in 1966. Davis was a fixture at hockey rinks throughout Europe and North America, where he was dispatched to assess hockey players for the Blues, New York Rangers, World Hockey Association’s Houston Aeros and, from 1980 virtually until his death at age 77 on December 20, 2007, the Edmonton Oilers, who won four Stanley Cups during his tenure.“Although Lorne was tremendously loyal to the Oilers, he could never completely shake the affection he had for the Montreal Canadiens,’’ said Brad Davis, one of Lorne’s sons and an Edmonton Oilers scout. “That dates back to his days with the Pats. He knew everything there was to know about the Pats, every player they produced, every coach who was behind their bench, and he always felt a part of the organization.
“What a wonderful gesture by the Pats. I thought he might be honoured as a player, because he was a good junior on a team with lots of great players. But it’s so fitting that his name is on a banner high in the corner of the Brandt Centre, because he was always sitting up in the corner, where the scouts sit.’’
Davis lasted only 1 1/2 seasons as the Pats’ head coach and general manager. The team missed the playoffs in 1976-77, but he got the Pats out of their funk the following year with newcomers Doug Wickenheiser, Darren Veitch, Mike Blaisdell and Brent Pascal, who would form the nucleus of the 1979-80 squad that won the Western Canada Hockey League title. After posting a 29-38-5 record and dispatching the high-powered Brandon Wheat Kings in a controversial round-robin series, the 1977-78 Pats were eliminated by the Flin Flon Bombers and Davis was fired by the owners, who believed he was a decent coach but wasn’t adept at handling the general manager’s administrative duties. Gregg Pilling replaced Davis as Regina’s coach, while Del Wilson returned as the general manager.
Graham Tuer -also stockpiled talent for the Pats, serving as a scout and assistant general manager with the team. His son, Al Tuer, played for the Pats in the mid-1980s. Graham Tuer also began working as general manager of the Regina Pat Canadians, a team in the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League, in 1983-84. Four years later the Pat Canadians, coached by Roland Duplessis with a roster that included Craig Lumbard, Bart Cote, Terry Hollinger, Kelly Markwart, Greg Hutchings and Jeff Sebastian, won the Air Canada Cup as the country’s top midget hockey team. Pats coaches Bill Moores and Bill Liskowich, who were hired by new team owners Jack Nicolle, Ted Knight, Morley Gusway and Bill Hicke in 1985, recognized Tuer’s keen eye for talent and recruited him as their head scout. Tuer continued scouting for the Pats for 12 years, two years after Calgary's Russ Parker and his family purchased the franchise. Russ Parker’s son, Brent Parker, became the the general manager.
“I had more fun with the Pats than anything else I’ve ever done,’’ said Tuer. “I loved working with Bill Moore, Bill Liskowich and Bill Hicke. I have a Pats logo tattoed on me somewhere.
“I just walked away. There were no fights, no arguments, I never fought with Brent, but I’m sure some people thought we did. Mr. Parker tried to talk me into staying, maybe taking a leave of absence, but I simply wasn’t having as much fun anymore.’’
Tuer was subsequently snapped up by the Moose Jaw Warriors, where his son Al was the coach and general manager. He later joined the WHL’s Kelowna Rockets, with whom he was a member of their Memorial Cup-winning organization in 2004.
“To think that I’m working for Kelowna, yet Brent Parker gets my name out of the book and puts it up on a banner, that sure is a special thing,’’ said Tuer.