Bill Dineen

bill-dineen

William Patrick Dineen
Born: September 18, 1932 (Arvida, Québec)
Died: December 10, 2016 (Glens Falls, New York0

Member:
Ottawa Sports Hall of Fame (1990)
American Hockey League Hall of Fame (2014)

 

Bill Dineen skated alongside Gordie Howe and won hockey championships and he later coached Gordie Howe and won more championships.

Mr. Dineen was a journeyman player who found success behind the bench. As a coach, he was regarded more as a motivator than as a strategist.

Mr. Dineen, who has died at 84 at his home in Glen Falls, N.Y., enjoyed the rare privilege of coaching his own son in the NHL when he piloted the Philadelphia Flyers for 18 months. Kevin Dineen was one of the struggling club’s star players at the time.

As a player, Mr. Dineen won two Stanley Cup championships with Mr. Howe and the Detroit Red Wings in the 1950s. Later, he would win two World Hockey Association championships coaching Mr. Howe — and the ageless wonder’s two sons — with the Houston Aeros.

Bill Dineen card.jpgThe right winger earned a colourful nickname early in his career as The Fox. “It comes from my days as a single guy,” he once said, “when I used to miss the odd curfew now and then.” Whatever his early reputation as a lady’s man, his marriage to the former Patricia Sheedy lasted 53 years until her death in 2010.

As a player, the 5-foot-11, 180-pounder had a mediocre career in the NHL, though he scored an impressive 17 goals in his rookie season. It was in the minor leagues with the American Hockey League and the Western Hockey League where he showed a sharpshooter’s keen eye.

As a coach, Mr. Dineen eschewed ranting and raving in favour of a more avuncular approach. He had tremendous success behind the bench in the minors and the WHA, the upstart challenger to the NHL. When his perseverance at long last gained him an NHL head coaching spot, at age 59, he coaxed the sad-sack Flyers into playing .500 hockey in his season and a half at the helm.

William Patrick Dineen was born on Sept. 18, 1932, to the former Rose Mary Finnegan and Matthew Henry Dineen, who had studied civil engineering at McGill University, where he played for the Redmen varsity team. Bill Dineen was born in Quebec’s Saguenay region at Arvida, an aluminum smelter town named for the company’s president (Arthur Vining Davis). Mr. Dineen played junior hockey in Ottawa with the St. Pats before moving to Toronto to attend St. Michael’s, where he was captain of the team at age 20, scoring 27 goals in 55 games. Hap Emms, coach of a rival team, called him “the best junior hockey player in Canada.”

The promising forward got a signing bonus when he agreed to a two-year deal with the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings. He immediately jumped to the big league for the 1953-54 season and scored his first goal in his second game, slipping the puck past Harry Lumley of the Toronto Maple Leafs on an assist from defenceman Red Kelly in a 4-0 victory at the Olympia in Detroit. Mr. Dineen recorded 25 points in his rookie campaign, finishing tied for fourth (with goaltender Johnny Bower) in voting for the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year behind winner Camille (The Eel) Henry and runners-up Earl (Dutch) Reibel, a Red Wings teammate, and the great Jean Beliveau.

Mr. Dineen had his name engraved on the Stanley Cup in his first two NHL seasons.

bill-dineen-and-kevin-dineen-cardIn 1957, he was part of an eight-player trade with the Chicago Black Hawks, a deal widely seen as punishment administered by Red Wings management for having been supportive of the formation of a players’ union. In six NHL seasons, he scored 51 goals and 44 assists. He had a goal and an assist in 37 playoff games.

The forward then spent 13 seasons in the minor leagues with the Buffalo Bisons, Cleveland Barons, Rochester Americans, Quebec Aces, Seattle Totems and Denver Spurs. He had his best professional season at age 34 when he scored 32 goals for the Totems and was named the Western Hockey League’s all-star left winger.

One oddity of Mr. Dineen’s playing career was being traded three times in the 1950s for Bashin’ Bob Bailey, a forward known for his stickhandling ability.

It was as a coach that Mr. Dineen excelled, beginning as a playing coach with the Denver Spurs in 1970. In 1972, he became coach of the Aeros in the fledgling WHA, building a team from scratch while introducing major-league hockey to Texas. As general manager, he coaxed Mr. Howe, a friend, out of retirement at age 45 to play alongside teenaged sons Mark and Marty Howe. Mr. Dineen was twice named the league’s coach of the year and is widely regarded as the defunct league’s best coach. He had 319 wins to 199 losses and 28 ties with the Aeros and Houston Whalers.

In 1983, he became coach of the minor-league Adirondack Red Wings, twice guiding the team to Calder Cup victories as American Hockey League champions and twice winning coach-of-the-year honours.

Mr. Dineen was head scout of the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers when he replaced Paul Holmgren as coach in December, 1991. He was replaced as coach at the end of the 1992-93 season, having guided the Flyers to a 60-60-20 record during his tenure.

He was inducted into the Ottawa Sports Hall of Fame in 1999 and the AHL Hall of Fame in 2014.

Mr. Dineen, who died on Dec. 10, leaves five sons, a daughter, 15 grandchildren, two sisters, and a brother. He was predeceased by his wife and two brothers.

All five of Mr. Dineen’s sons played professional hockey with three of them (Kevin, Peter and Gordon) skating in the NHL. Kevin Dineen also became an NHL coach and, in 2014, he guided the Canadian women’s hockey team to a gold medal at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

By Tom Hawthorn
Special to The Globe and Mail
December 26, 2016

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Mark Reeds

Los Angeles Kings v Ottawa Senators

Mark Reed was an assistant coach of the Ottawa Senators.

Mark Reeds
Born: January 24, 1960 (Burlington, Ontario)
Died: April 14, 2015 (St. Louis, Missouri)

Mark Reeds, an assistant coach with the NHL’s Ottawa Senators from 2011, died in St. Louis of cancer after being hospitalized with pneumonia. He was 55.

Mark Reeds (mug)Reeds was diagnosed with cancer a year before his death. His death was announced by the team the day before it was to begin a playoff series with the Montreal Canadiens.

The 5-foot-10, 178-pound right winger was a checking forward with the St. Louis Blues and the Hartford Whalers in a 365-game NHL career.

He played three years of junior hockey with the Peterborough Petes under mercurial coach Mike Keenan. He had a 34-goal season in his final campaign with the Ontario major junior team in 1979-80. Reeds scored the overtime winner for a 5-4 victory over the Regina Pats in the first game of the 1980 Memorial Cup tournament in Brandon, Man.

The Petes went on to face the Cornwall (Ont.) Royals for the Cup, a game they lost 3-2 in overtime, as Regina fans booed the Petes and belted them with eggs and rotten vegetables in the belief they had earlier thrown a game against the Royals to eliminate the Pats. He was named to the Memorial Cup tournament’s all-star team. (The Pats coach at the time, Bryan Murray, was the Senators general manager who hired Reeds as an assistant coach.)

Reeds also skated for Canada’s under-20 team at the world championships that season, scoring one goal in five games. (Canada’s top scorer on the junior squad was future NHL sniper Dino Ciccarelli, who scored five goals in five games.)

Mark Reeds (card)The St. Louis Blues drafted Reeds in the third round (No. 86 overall) of the 1979 NHL entry draft.

The slight forward spent most of the following three seasons with the Salt Lake Golden Eagles, though he was called up for a total of 29 games with the Blues.

He emerged as a full-time NHL player in 1984-84. His unenviable task was the check the top scoring line of the opposing team.

On Nov. 20, 1984, he scored a hat-trick and added an assist as the Blues demolished the Canucks, 5-1, in Vancouver. Canucks coach Bill LaForge was fired the following day.

Reeds missed to games in 1986-87 after suffering second- and third-degree burns from splattering hot oil while trying to make popcorn.

He was traded to the Whalers for a third-round draft choice in 1987. He played 45 games in Hartford, spending most of a season with the Binghamton Whalers of the American Hockey League.

Reeds scored 45 goals (all with the Blues) and added 114 assists in his NHL career. He had eight goals and nine assists in 53 playoff games.

After two seasons with Fiemme Cavalese in Italy, Reeds retired as a player only to return to play 16 games with the Peoria Rivermen in 1992-93. He scored four goals for the International Hockey League team.

Reeds, who was nicknamed The Dude as a player, had an extensive coaching career in the minor pros with the Peoria Rivermen, Missouri River Otters and Kalamazoo K-Wings. He became head coach of the junior Owen Sound (Ont.) Attack in 2007-08. In 2011, he won the Matt Leyden Trophy as the Ontario Hockey League’s coach of the year. He had guided the Attack to a 46-17-5 record for 97 points, a 35-point improvement on their previous season.

Mark Reeds (Blues)

Elmer Lach

elmer lach

Elmer James Lach
Born: January 22, 1918 (Nokomis, Saskatchewan)
Died: April 4, 2015 (Kirkland, Québec)

Member: Hockey Hall of Fame (1966)

When Elmer Lach retired as a player after the 1953-54 season, he was the NHL’s all-time leading scorer with 623 points.

He centred one of the greatest lines in hockey history with the hard-working Toe Blake on left wing and the fiery Maurice (Rocket) Richard on right wing. The Punch Line dominated the NHL at the end of the Second World War with Lach, Richard and Blake finishing 1-2-3 in scoring, all three named to the NHL’s First All-Star Team.

Elmer Lach cardLach was the kind of player who made everyone on the ice with him better. The 5-foot-10, 165-pound skater displayed brilliant playmaking, with passes said to nestle on the blade of a teammate’s stick. A quick, smooth skater, he was a tenacious checker. Others had harder shots, but Lach’s quick release and sneaky ability to use opposing defenceman as a screen gained him 215 goals in 664 NHL games, all with the Montreal Canadiens.

Lach twice won the NHL scoring title — with 80 points in 1944-45 and with 61 points in 1947-48, when he became the inaugural recipient of the Art Ross Trophy.

His name was engraved on the Stanley Cup in 1944, ’46 and ’53, when his overtime goal against Boston ended the series after five games.

Lach the Unlucky, as he was nicknamed, suffered numerous injuries in his 14 seasons, including two cracked jaws, a shattered cheekbone, and a fractured skull. A rival’s skate blade once tore through his hockey boot, severing two veins, an injury he did not notice until a teammate saw blood seeping from the skate. Lach’s nose did a dipsy-doodle down his long face, the result of seven breaks. Trent Frayne once profiled him for Saturday Evening Post magazine under the headline, “You Can’t Kill a Hockey Player.” Lach, he wrote, was “less polished than persistent, less artistic than artisan, less incomparable than inexorable.”

Elmer Lach with Hart TrophyWhile his linemate Richard became a cultural icon with his bold, headlong, dynamic style seen as an expression of a nascent post-war Québec identity, Lach’s reserved, quiet demeanour, a reflection perhaps of his prairie upbringing, meant he never received the accolades he deserved. Though Lach was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1966, the Canadiens did not get around to retiring his No. 16 until 2009, 55 years after he’d retired. (Besides, they’d already retired No. 16 to honour Henri Richard, Rocket’s little brother.) In recent years, it fell to Dave Stubbs of the Montreal Gazette to chronicle Lach’s life and career, which he did with delight.

Lach died on April 4, a week after suffering a stroke, at age 97. His death came 66 years to the day after newspapers carried stories about his retirement as a player.

He was born 57 days after the founding of the NHL.

Elmer James was one of six children (two born in Russia, four in Canada) born to Mary and William Lache, immigrant farmers who settled in Nokomis, a town in Saskatchewan opened to homesteading in 1904. (The final letter in the family name, pronounced “lock,” would be dropped.) Young Elmer learned to skate on frozen ponds on skates borrowed from a neighbour. He played his first game of organized hockey ay age 17 with the junior Regina Abbots. At 18, he joined the senior Weyburn Beavers and, after two seasons, skated two more seasons for the Moose Jaw Millers, emerging as a top scorer.

The Canadiens struggled through the Depression years, nearly folding. Lach was invited to camp before the 1940-41 season. He was one of nine rookies to join the team’s roster, signing a $4,000 contract with a $1,000 signing bonus, according to Stubbs. He played a single game in his sophomore season, during which he was checked into the boards. He shattered his left wrist, tore up ligaments in his elbow and dislocated his shoulder, an injury so grievous he needed an entire season to heal.

During the war years, Lach worked in an aircraft factory by day, skated for the Canadiens by night.

Lach won the Hart Trophy as the NHL’s most valuable player in 1945. As well as his three First Team All-Star honours, he was twice named to the league’s Second Team (1943-44, 1945-46). He skated in three all-star games.

Elmer Lach with Punch Line

The Punch Line (from left): Maurice (Rocket) Richard, Elmer Lach, Toe Blake

Elmer Lach cartoon

Elmer lach's skate

(From the Montreal Gazette.)

Elmer Lach retires from hockey (Ottawa Citizen, April 4, 1949)

(The Ottawa Citizen, April 4, 1949)

Don (Smokey) McLeod

Don McLeod (Cowbouys card) (no mask)

Donald Martin McLeod
Born: August 24, 1946 (Trail, British Columbia)
Died: March 11, 2015 (Port Coquitlam, British Columbia)

Don (Smokey) McLeod stood out as a character even by the eccentric standards of the fraternity of hockey goaltenders.

McLeod once insisted on a six-figure contract. When his team offered only $99,999.99, one penny less than he desired, he skated away from the deal.

Don McLeodHe later signed a lucrative contract with Quebec Nordiques only to discover the Quebec capital to be a place where French was disconcertingly de rigueur. The unilingual player had a hard time finding a home for his family and schooling for his children. He was traded after just seven games.

When selected to play for Team Canada in a series against the Soviet Union in 1974, he was told he could invite a guest for the European leg of the exhibition tournament. Most players brought along a wife or girlfriend. McLeod brought his mother.

Then there was his nickname. Known throughout hockey as Smokey, some thought it a reference to his birthplace of Trail, B.C., over which tower the smokestacks of a smelter and whose famous hockey team is known as the Smoke Eaters. Instead, he was known as Smokey for his enjoyment of tobacco products before, after, and sometimes even during games.

That he forged an 11-season pro career is all the more remarkable for the circumstances of his birth to the former Tracy Hemmerling and Gordon McLeod, a smelter worker.

Donald Martin McLeod, who was born on Aug. 24, 1946, had a deformed right foot. Surgery eventually made it possible for the boy to stand on his own unaided. His father used lunch breaks at the smelter to build a metal shoe so he could play baseball. He became a goalie in hockey because of his limited ability to skate. By the time he turned pro, shortly after his 21st birthday, McLeod wore a size 10 skate on his left foot and size 7 skate on his right foot. As well, his right leg was two inches shorter than his left.

The goaltender was just 17 when he made his debut with the hometown Smoke Eaters of the Western International Hockey League. His record: 0 wins, 7 losses. He left home the following season to play junior hockey with the Edmonton Oil Kings. The teenaged goalie led the Oil Kings to the Memorial Cup junior championship final. After a poor showing in the opening games, McLeod’s team defeated in six games the Oshawa Generals, an Ontario team whose lineup included several future NHL players, including superstar defenceman Bobby Orr.

The 6-foot-1, 190-pound goaltender spent four seasons in the minor leagues with the Quebec Aces, Springfield Kings, Baltimore Clippers and Fort Worth Wings. He made his NHL debut with the Detroit Red Wings in a game against Toronto at Maple Leaf Gardens on Nov. 28, 1970. With Toronto leading 6-1, McLeod was called on by coach Ned Harkness to replace Roy Edwards in goal for the third period. The rookie lasted 101 seconds before surrendering his first goal on the first shot he faced. The scorer was Maple Leafs rookie Darry Sittler, the first of what would be 484 goals in a career in a hall-of-fame career. McLeod gave up two more goals in his debut, as Detroit lost, 9-3.

Don McLeod (program cover)The rookie goalie got his first start the following night at the Olympia in Detroit, defeating the Montreal Canadiens by 5-3.

It was a grim season to be a Red Wings goalie. McLeod saw action in parts of 14 games, including a 13-0 drubbing by the Maple Leafs, the worst game in franchise history. The rookie ended his first NHL campaign with an inflated 5.16 goals-against average. He was claimed by the Philadelphia Flyers the following season, but only played in four games, spending most of it in the minors with the Richmond Robins and Providence Reds.

His major pro career was salvaged by the appearance of the World Hockey Association, the wacky, free-spending rival to the NHL The Houston Aeros signed him and by 1973-74 he was recognized as the best goalie in the league, backstopping the Aeros to the Avco Cup championship.

When the Aeros refused a six-figure contract, McLeod jumped to the Vancouver Blazers, staying with the franchise when it moved in 1975 to Calgary, where the team was called the Cowboys. Calgary fans adopted the mustachioed character as one of their one, a free spirit who seemed as likely to rush up the ice with the puck as freeze it.

“McLeod is leading the Cowboys from behind,” reported the Winnipeg Free Press. “He even helps out in the odd rush. A favourite trick of his is to play the puck with his curved stick, inviting a wave of checkers, only to loft the disc high in the air, over the attackers’ heads, to centre ice where someone fast like Danny Lawson or George Morrison is waiting on side for the breakaway pass from McLeod.”

Once, Bobby Hull of the Winnipeg Jets fired a wicked, wild slap shot that came perilously close to the goalie’s head. Later in the game, the goalie got the puck on his stick and rifled a shot at the Golden Jet’s head.

“We just all laughed on the bench,” teammate Butch Deadmarsh told the Calgary Sun recently, “and said, ‘Way to go, Smoke!’”

McLeod said the only time he ever feared for his safety at a game came during an ugly brawl at the Colisée in Québec on April 11, 1976. Calgary forward Rick Jodzio jumped over the boards and skated 80 feet before catching Quebec’s Marc Tardif with a two handed cross-check to the face. (Jodzio denied the charge. “I checked him and I punched him, but I didn’t hit him with my stick,” he insisted.) Tardif, the WHA’s scoring champion that season with 71 goals, was knocked out.

Don McLeod (Calgary Cowboys card)The attack led to a bench-clearing brawl. Quebec police took to the ice, but did not intervene. Meanwhile, enraged fans began swinging at any Cowboys player within reach.

Tardif was taken to hospital to recuperate, while Jodzio faced a criminal charge of assault, which carried a maximum 14-year sentence. Calgary won the game, by 8-4, but the Nordiques wanted Jodzio suspended for life before the series would be allowed to resume. Jodzio eventually was fined $3,000 after pleading guilty to a lesser charge of causing bodily harm. Tardif, who suffered a concussion and missed the rest of the playoffs and part of the following season, filed a $150,000 personal damages suit, which was settled out of court in 1981.

Mcleod’s brief stint with the Nordiques ended with a trade to the Edmonton Oilers.

In six WHA seasons, McLeod was credited with 43 assists, including 13 in the 1975-76 season, a major pro record at the time for a goaltender.

He retired as a player in 1978. He attempted a comeback a year later, appearing in the Maple Leafs camp along with seven other goalies, including regulars Mike Palmateer and Paul Harrison, Czechoslovakian defector Jiri Crha, highly-rated rookie Vince Tremblay, and three others. The Leafs used five goalies that season, none of them named McLeod.

What should have been one of the highlights of his career turned out to be a lowlight. McLeod was selected with Gerry Cheevers to represent Team Canada in a series of exhibition games pitting WHA players against the Soviet Union in 1974. In what would be his only start, McLeod surrendered eight goals in an 8-5 loss in Winnipeg. Some writers, notably Jim Proudfoot of the Toronto Star, faulted McLeod for allowing some easy goals. Others insisted the margin would have been greater if not for the goalie’s acrobatics.

After leaving hockey, McLeod worked as a traveling salesman for Hershey Canada, working a territory between Calgary and Cranbrook, B.C. He divorced and endured a bankruptcy. Later in life, he could be found cheering his grandsons from the stands at a hockey rink. A dedicated card player, he enjoyed poker, rummy, and cribbage when not fishing, reading, or solving a sudoku puzzle.

He was a resident of the Vancouver suburb of Port Coquitlam when he died on March 11 of a heart attack after suffering complications from knee surgery in January. He leaves two daughters, three grandchildren and three sisters.

Tom Scallen

Tom Scallen (Globe and Mail photo)

Tom Scallen photographed by the Globe and Mail at his Minneapolis home in 2011.

Thomas Kaine Scallen
Born: August 14, 1925
Died: March 21, 2015 (Minneapolis, Minnesota)

Tom Scallen, a millionaire businessman and impresario from Minnesota, brought the expansion Vancouver Canucks into the NHL only to lose the team and serve jail time.

He was convicted in 1973 of stealing $3 million from Northwest Sports Enterprises Ltd., the company that owned the NHL Canucks, and using the money to pay off debts of Northwest’s parent company, Medical Investment Corp. (Medicor).

Tom Scallen (large mug)Scallen was also convicted of issuing a false prospectus in raising money to cover the $6-million fee the NHL demanded for an expansion team in Vancouver.

Originally convicted to concurrent four-year prison terms, Scallen appealed to the B.C. Court of Appeals, which unanimously dismissed the appeal, though his sentence was reduced to two years. Scallen surrendered to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police on June 3, 1974. He was booked into the British Columbia Penitentiary in the Vancouver suburb of Burnaby that day, eventually serving nine months before being released on parole.

A month earlier, Vancouver-based media mogul Frank Griffiths bought controlling interest in the Canucks from Medicor. Griffiths, through his company Western International Communications, owned the Canucks until his death at 77 in 1994. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame as a builder in 1992.

Such a future honour might have been on Scallen’s mind when he made his move into professional hockey in 1969. A Second World War veteran and the son of a prominent Minneapolis trial lawyer, Scallen practiced law himself and served as a time as Minnesota’s assistant attorney general. He later became a banker.

When his twin brother, Dr. Raymond Scallen, a physician, cited a need for rentable medical equipment, Scallen formed Medicor. He made a small fortune, some of which he used to buy the Shipstads & Johnson Ice Follies, the traveling show of performing ice skaters. (He’d later purchase a competitor, Holiday on Ice, merging the two troupes.) This taste of the impresario’s life encouraged Scallen to invest in professional hockey.

The NHL had only six teams from 1942 until 1967, when it doubled in size by adding six new teams in the United States. Each new franchise paid a $2-million fee. To the surprise of many, Vancouver was passed over. When the NHL announced it would add two more teams in 1970 in Vancouver and Buffalo, the league demanded what was at the time a shocking a $6-million expansion fee, of which a $1.75-million down payment was due by the end of February, 1970.

The NHL offered the rights to the Vancouver franchise to Northwest Sports Enterprises Ltd., owners of a minor-league pro team in the Western Hockey League also named Canucks. Northwest balked at the offer, complaining about the tripling of the expansion fee. Scallen then stepped in to buy 90 percent of Northwest for $2.8 million. He agreed to the NHL’s price. Unable to finance both the purchase of the old Canucks and the NHL’s expansion fee, he borrowed $3 million from the Walter E. Heller Corporation of Chicago.

Scallen was initially hailed by fans for ensuring Vancouver would have an NHL team for the 1970-71 season. When Medicor’s Lyman Walters sparked controversy by suggesting the word Canucks was “an outdated slang expression,” Scallen assured fans the new team would keep the old team’s name. “Who am I to tell the fans what their hockey team should be called?” he said. Though the NHL Canucks struggled on the ice, ticket sales were brisk and it looked like Scallen had made a good investment.

His problem — the $3-million loan, which became due six months after he borrowed the money. With Medicor’s cash flow limited, Scallen decided to offer shares of Northwest available to the public. The prospectus declared the money raised would be used to retire a small debt, make another expansion franchise payment, and otherwise be invested in other sporting properties. Scallen talked about buying a Canadian Football League team in Edmonton, or Montreal, and mused about getting a major-league baseball team in Toronto.

A one-man operation, Scallen used the money raised to pay off Medicor’s loan to Heller, none of which had been described in the prospectus. When Northwestern’s board of directors discovered what he had done, the news made the Vancouver newspapers and British Columbia’s attorney general ordered an investigation, which ended with guilty verdicts after a trial by jury.

After serving his time, Scallen returned to the razzle-dazzle world of sports presentation. He became president and chief executive officer of International Broadcasting Corporation, which acquired the Ice Capades and the Harlem Globetrotters barnstorming basketball team.

The company filed for bankruptcy protection in 1991. The Olympic figure-skating champion Dorothy Hamill purchased the Ice Capades two years later, while former basketball player Mannie Jackson led an investment group that purchased the Globetrotters.

Scallen held executive positions with advertising and film companies, as well as the Clyde Beatty-Cole Bros. Circus. He produced such television specials as “Rockette: A Holiday Tribute to Radio City Music Hall,” which aired on NBC in 1978. He also produced Ice Capades specials for television, as well as live shows at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.

He wound up his show business career as a restaurateur who owned the venerable Lexington in St. Paul and the suburban Chanhassen Dinner Theatres. The Chanhassen boasted four stages and was billed as the largest dinner theatre complex in America. Scallen sold it to two longtime employees and a theatre management company in 2010.

Scallen insisted he had been prosecuted and convicted as part of a political and business ploy to remove an American owner from a Canadian hockey team. “It was a pure political play,” he told Josh Wingrove of the Globe and Mail four years ago. Scallen said he was pardoned of his convictions in 1982.

Scallen died at his Minneapolis home. He leaves his Bille Jo Brice, his second wife whom he married in 1990; three sons and three daughters from his first marriage to the former Mary Semsch; 19 grandchildren; eight great-grandchildren; and, three brothers.

A rare reminder of Scallen’s tenure as owner of the Canucks is the recently revived logo of a stylized C featuring a hockey stick and a rink. Scallen approved the “Stick-in-Rink” design by Joe Borovich of North Vancouver.

Steve Montador

Steve Montador Steven Richard Montador
Born: December 21, 1979 (Vancouver, British Columbia)
Died: February 15, 2015 (Mississaugua, Ontario)

Steve Montador, whose 10-season NHL career was shortened by concussions, was found dead at his home. He was 35. No cause of death was immediately available.

He was discovered unresponsive at his home in the Toronto suburb of Mississauga, where he was pronounced dead by police, who began a sudden-death investigation. Foul play was not suspected.

a11.16jul.montador.edHis death brought an outpouring of grief from former teammates and rivals, as well as from the NHL Players Association, for which he had been an active member and part of the bargaining committee in 2012. Montador’s head injuries, as well as his subsequent struggle with depression, were much chronicled.

In May, an analysis of his brain revealed evidence of chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

His death will likely put greater pressure on the NHL as it seeks to cope with the brain injuries that plague the sport.

Montador was a plaintiff in a case by former players against the NHL, the late player’s lawyer Bill Gibbs told Rick Westhead of TSN. The family can pursue the case on behalf of the player’s estate.

“He was a guy who really cared about his brothers, the guys he played with,” Gibbs told TSN. “I think he felt strongly it was important for everybody to start advancing the conversation about what happens to guys after their hockey careers and what happens to their brains.”

The 6-foot, 205-pound defenceman played junior in the Ontario Hockey League with the North Bay Centennials, Erie (Penn.) Otters and Peterborough Petes. The Calgary Flames signed the undrafted rearguard as a free agent in 2000, assigning him to their American Hockey League affiliate in Saint John, N.B., where he won a Calder Cup in 2001.

He skated in 87 games for the parent Flames over three seasons. In 2004-05, he played in France for the Mulhouse Scorpions, before returning to the Flames the following season. Calgary traded him to the Florida Panthers on Dec. 2, 2005. He put in three solid seasons in Florida before joining the Anaheim Ducks for the 2008-09 season. After 65 games, the Ducks traded him to the Boston Bruins for Petteri Nokelainen. Montador lasted just 13 games in Boston. He next spent two seasons with the Buffalo Sabres before joining the Chicago Blackhawks for the 2011-12 season.

He suffered a concussion on Feb. 7, 2012, in a game against Colorado, returned seven weeks later only to be re-concussed. The head injury was re-aggravated in practice.

“If I get into a game I expect to get hit and I expect to hit people,” Montador told sports reporter Tracey Myers. “If I went into a game fearful, the first thing that’s going to happen is I’m going to get hit and I’m going to get smoked. That’s part of the recovery.”

Montador scored 33 goals with 98 assists in 571 regular-season NHL games. He recorded 807 penalty minutes in his 10 seasons with six clubs. He scored three goals with five assists in 43 NHL playoff games.

Montador’s professional career ended with a 14-game rehabilitation assignment with the Rockford (Ill.) IceHogs of the AHL in 2012-13.

Once again a free agent, but with little NHL interest in him as a player, Montador, nicknamed The Matador, signed with Zagreb Medvescak of the KHL last season. He lasted 11 games.

Sports fans in Vancouver will remember broadcaster Don Taylor celebrating the defenceman’s appearance in a highlight package by singing a parody of the opening line of a Procol Harum’s “Conquistador”: “Steve Mon-ta-dor your stallion stands…”

Claude Ruel

claude ruel-11050.jpg

Claude Ruel offers tips to tough guy John Ferguson in 1970.

Claude Ruel
Born: September 12, 1938 (Sherbrooke, Québec)
Died: February 9, 2015 (Longueuil, Québec)

Claude Ruel was an animated figure behind the bench of the Montreal Canadiens, a diminutive figure who appeared to need to poke his pudgy bulldog face between the shoulders of his players to see the action on the ice.

Claude Ruel cardRuel had the unenviable task of succeeding the legendary Toe Blake as coach of the Canadiens for the 1968-69 season. He took over at age 29, making him younger than eight of his players. He guided them to a first-place finish in the NHL’s East Division before sweeping the New York Rangers, eliminating Bobby Orr and the Boston Bruins in six games, and sweeping the sophomore St. Louis Blues for the Stanley Cup.

The Canadiens missed the playoffs the following season despite recording 92 points on 38 wins and 16 ties, a better record than any of the teams in the West Division.

Ruel resigned as coach after 23 games of the 1970-71 campaign. He stayed with the club as scout and, later, director of player development, playing a key role in building the dynasty of the 1970s. He returned behind the bench midway through the 1979-80 season, The Habs were eliminated in the quarterfinals by the Minnesota North Stars in seven games, ending a streak of four consecutive championships.

Ruel coached one more season, again winning the Prince of Wales Trophy, although the Canadiens were upset by being swept in three games in the preliminary round by the upstart Edmonton Oilers. He was replaced the following season by Bob Berry.

Ruel’s coaching record with the Canadiens was 172 wins, 82 losses, 51 ties. His playoff record was 18-9.

He was known to work well with young players, notably Chris Nilan, who he hoped to forge into the kind of scoring fighter the Canadiens had with the formidable John Ferguson. Ruel reminded players he wanted them to “dance” on the ice. He believed in mobility.

Born in Sherbrooke, Que., played junior with the Junior Canadiens and the Hull-Ottawa Canadiens. The 5-foot-6, 160-pound defenceman won a Memorial Cup championship with Hull-Ottawa in 1956-57. His playing career ended when the butt end of an opponent’s stick struck him in the left eye.

He later coached the Junior Canadiens and was the head of scouting when named coach of the storied franchise, a rare boss to have never played a game of professional hockey.

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Claude Ruel coached the Montreal Canadiens to a Stanley Cup championship in 1969.