Vancouver Province article (Chynoweth made brutal WHL much better place)April 25 2008 at 7:12 AM
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|N. W. Bruin (Login NW_Bruin_GM)|
Chynoweth made brutal WHL much better place
Tony Gallagher, The Province
Published: Friday, April 25, 2008
One of the first of many memorable hockey people met over the years in this business was Ed Chynoweth, the man who saved junior hockey from itself in Western Canada in the early '70s, which was about the time he started building his cadre of friends that could fill GM Place several times over.
Ben Kuzma put together a list of his enormous accomplishments in Wednesday's Province and so there will be no attempt here to review, but it needs to be said what a wonderful man this was.
Our first meeting was after one of those brawls that used to be scheduled regularly out at Queen's Park Arena under the guise of a Western Hockey League junior game between the New Westminster Bruins coached by Ernie McLean and the next collective victim.
This was a league so filled with violence, it was astonishing that any sane parent would let his son participate. Anyone watching hockey today simply cannot comprehend what used to go on, three players beating up one for a prolonged time one of the many scenes one might witness, and New Westminster wasn't the only team doing this.
Brawls were so commonplace that in one newspaper game story after a 10-inch piece described who scored the winning goal and various other plays, the final sentence read: The teams split 14 majors.
One night after the NHL's famous Good Friday brawl between Montreal and Quebec in a quarterfinal playoff series in '84 (YouTube it), Pat Price was sitting in the bar afterwards and was asked about the activities of the evening, which saw Montreal's Jean Hamel suffer a serious eye injury that essentially ended his career.
"Oh, I played in the Western league," deadpanned Price. "And out there, on a scale of one to 10, this would have been about a two."
And the time Price was referring to was about five to 10 years after Chynoweth started to clean things up.
He could see this league he had been appointed to run was on the road to oblivion if it didn't change and getting a grip on some of the legendary owners like Scotty Munro, Pat Ginnell and the two-headed crew in New West of Punch McLean and the late Bill Shinske and dragging them into the 20th century was his mission.
So old-school were some of these characters, they actively discouraged their players from attempting any education while they played. At one point, Shinske said at training camp after the Bruins had relocated from Estevan, Sask., to this reporter fresh out of UBC: "We have all our guys out of school now. We have one taking correspondence courses, but we're hoping to get him to stop."
Chynoweth knew this had to change as well and began to champion education along with hockey, a novel concept to some of these guys who would have presided over the league's extinction had they not bowed to his wisdom.
The man was full of ideas that worked and they worked because his easy-going nature could get people to try something new if for no other reason than to trust in his judgment. So trusting did the owners of the league eventually become in this fellow that legend has it one league meeting took place in his hotel room one morning because he'd had a few too many the night before and would likely do his best work in bed under such circumstances.
The fact the WHL has come so far and attracted such good people as Ron Toigo, Bruce Hamilton and a myriad of others is a tribute to a guy who always put the kids' interest ahead of his own, even ahead of the owners who paid his salary.
Every time you would run into Chynoweth, the topic would turn to hockey and he always had a creative idea to make something better. Whether it was the NHL, his own league or minor hockey, the lives of players, trainers, educators, parents and/or players' siblings, coaches, owners or even the hotel bellhop would always be enriched in some way if he got his way. And thank heaven he got his way as often as he did.
Heaven is supposed to be a perfect place, but here's betting Chynoweth is already pitching an idea to the Lord. He's found a way to make it better.
© The Vancouver Province 2008
- Shows you what that idiot Tony Gallagher knows - N. W. Bruin on Apr 25, 7:20 AM
- On top of that I remember one of Gallagher's articles where he played up Graham James - N. W. Bruin on Apr 25, 7:22 AM