PGMHA team up for jersey project
The walls of the Kin Centre lounge (between Kin 1 and Kin 2) have been decorated with the framed and autographed jerseys of every PGMHA player who has either played or coached in the NHL or has been drafted by an NHL team ## ## .
Starting in 1973 with Darcy Rota (the year he got drafted by the Chicago Blackhawks) and leading up to the most recent inductee into that exclusive club, New York Rangers 2016 draft pick Brad Morrison, the NHL jerseys of 28 Prince George minor hockey graduates are now on display thanks to a $15,000 legacy donation provided by Scotiabank in March 2015 as part of its Hometown Heroes promotion.
“This is good for all the kids in the organization to try to strive for to make that dream come alive,” said PGMHA president Alec Hartney. “They can look at the jerseys and say, ‘Hey, they made it, I can try to make it.'”
Staff at the minor hockey office at the Kin Centre have been working on the jersey project for about a year. Some of the players proved difficult to reach and some, like former St. Louis Blues left winger Tony Twist, at first did not didn’t believe the project was legitimate.
“He thought I was a fanatic fan who was stalking him,” said PGMHA secretary Brenda Richter. “Afterwards, after we got everything, he said. ‘Do you want 100 pictures autographed, I’ll autograph 100 and send them to you.’ I said, ‘two will do, we’ll use one for the Telus Cup.
“They were all pretty easy to talk to. Larry Bernard was another one who was tough to get in touch with, he’s a pretty busy boy. He’s a scout for the New York Rangers (who lives in Michigan).”
Since the project was completed about a month ago, the jersey display has proven to be great conversation starter and it brings back memories for some who remember the players in their youth, before fame came knocking on their door.
“We’ve had kids here excited that their dad’s jerseys are up there,” said PGMHA administrator Audrey Foster. “We had a mother in here the other day (Pauline Morrison) and she came down here and was crying because it was just so awesome to see her kid’s jersey up there.”
There was some debate whether to display the crest of each NHL team or the number the players wore. But the consensus was the players would better appreciate seeing the number they wore or were assigned by their team in training camp.
Some visitors to the wall of fame might be wondering why there’s not a father son combination with Morrisons Brad, who currently plays for the Prince George Cougars, and his father Doug, who played 21 games for the Boston Bruins over three seasons from 1979 82. Although Doug was born in Prince George, he played his minor hockey in Vancouver until he joined the WHL with the Lethbridge Broncos. That ruled out the elder Morrison from having his Bruins jersey mounted on the wall.
PGMHA went to great lengths to locate jerseys with the appropriate crest worn during the time the player was with each respective team. Don Nachbaur’s Hartford Whalers jersey had to be specially ordered and it took some searching by Hartney to find Craig Endean’s original Winnipeg Jets logo on a jersey.
Several of the players still live in Prince George or come back for the summer, including Russ Wildewrman, Al Loring, Stewart Malgunas, Lee J. Leslie, Paul Brown, Sean LeBrun, Brett Bulmer, Brett Connolly, Brandon Manning, Nick Drazenovic and Ryan Howse.
Two of the players Dale Marquette and Mike Winther, are now deceased.
PGMHA says the next phase of the project will be to try to gather all the surviving players together for a function. Hartney said will most likely be a summertime event after the Stanley Cup playoffs, when the season is over.