May 15, 2020 People
Doug Rigler became a GP Hockey Legend in the player category in 2008.
Following is a remarkable COVID story about Doug Rigler, one of our Grande Prairie Legends of Hockey, including a poem dedicated to recognize the selfless service of our First responders. Doug is a hometown boy who developed his skills in minor hockey then spread his talents across both Canada and the United States. Rigler and the the entire roster of the 1979-1980 Red Deer Rustlers were inducted into the Alberta Hockey Hall of Fame in 2015. He was with the Rustlers when they claimed a second Centennial Cup in 1980.
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March 26, 2020 People
A Tribute to Galen Head
Number One Ambassador on the Ice, Prolific Scorer, Team Leader and Gentleman
Personally and on behalf of the Grande Prairie Hockey Legends Community I send condolences to Gracie Head and her family concerning the passing of Galen on March 14, 2020. Like Galen, I grew up playing minor hockey in Grande Prairie. Galen was just a few months my senior. I did not have the privilege of playing with Galen on minor hockey teams but we were both coached by volunteers in Grande Prairie, such as GP Hockey Legends, Roy Borstad and Roy Peterson. I share his memories of playing on the Bear Creek Flats and was well aware, not only of Galen’s outstanding hockey skills but his attitude and his character. He never flaunted his superior hockey skills. He was above all a team player – someone who made everyone who played with him look better. During Galen’s formative years his Father, Walter, was Manager of the Memorial Arena. Galen was a Rink Rat. In my opinion this was the foundation for Galen’s superior hockey ability.
The first opportunity I had of playing hockey with Galen was at age fifteen when we were invited to play with the Senior Grande Prairie Athletics. GP Hockey Legend Pete Wright was our coach. Pete was a scout for the Edmonton Oil Kings. Galen and I made the cut and for a brief period we played together with the Oil Kings. In Edmonton Galen, Ace Bailey and I roomed together. As the school term was at hand, Oil King GM, Bill Hunter gave us a credit card to purchase books for the school year. We returned with a big bill, a basket filled with books and good intentions but the books were only opened to place our names in them. During this period Galen and I hitch-hiked to and from Edmonton several times to keep touch with our families.
Following a short stint with the Kings our careers took different turns. I returned to my former job at the Herald Tribune followed by a stint as a sports reporter with the Edmonton Journal and then enrolled at U of A to become a physical education teacher. Galen continued to play hockey and enjoyed a sparkling career. For detailed information regarding Galen’s hockey career and his remarkable contributions to hockey please refer to Galen Head: His Hockey History and the Tale of Two Cities on our web site.
Here I wish to pay tribute to Galen’s character. I have already mentioned that as early as minor hockey Galen’s lack of ego and his “giving” nature was evident. As a teenager in Junior hockey he had coaches that might have taught more than just the mechanics of the game. When he finished life as a hockey player he and Gracie married and he coached hockey until his health failed.
A tribute to Galen also comes from Dave Emerson, Galen’s friend from childhood. “Galen was a couple of years younger than I but we hung out together a lot. We spent endless hours at the ballpark and in Galen’s back yard batting out flies in summer. In winter we played a lot of road hockey beside Leslie’s Autocourt or on the millpond at the Grande Prairie Lumber mill. Galen’s father, Walter Head, ran the Grande Prairie Memorial Arena during all my hockey years in Grande Prairie. I would hang around with Galen when he accompanied his Dad to the rink and stayed late while Walt flooded the ice. This gave us endless opportunities to practice after public skating and resulted in significant improvement to our shooting and skating skills. Galen and I were both rink rats and, in return for our ice cleaning work, we were given an opportunity to play ‘rink rat hockey’ every Saturday morning. I would get up early to be at the rink when Galen and his Dad opened the rink by 8 am. As we got into organized hockey Galen and I would play together under the coaching of Tommy Hamilton. I think our team was called the Panthers then Thunderbirds. I was captain of our Grande Prairie high school hockey team and had the opportunity to recruit some younger players to join our team. I recruited Galen from Montrose Junior High. We went on to win the championship and Galen was a star performer. Galen lives on in my fondest memories of my youth. He was one of my hometown heroes. My thoughts and sympathies go out to his family and friends.” (David Emerson).
Galen knew the mechanics of the game but most importantly he will be remembered for his sensitivity, his empathy, and generosity. One of Galen’s biggest fans in Johnstown Pennsylvania is Johnstown Tribune-Democrat Sports Reporter, Mike Mastovitch. In 2010 Mastovich learned that Galen (age 63) was battling multiple health problems. Word concerning his health reached the Johnstown Chiefs Office and the ECHL team initiated a fund raising campaign for his medical expenses. When word of the campaign reached Galen he responded, “ “I’m feeling much better. I’m battling my illnesses, and I feel good about it. I’m going to survive. I’m not going away. I’m going to be around.”
While he was moved by the good will, Head felt any money raised should go to help others. “If they want to continue with the fund-raiser in my name that’s fine. There are a number of children here (in Johnstown) who are traveling back and forth to Children’s Hospital in Pittsburgh. Maybe it could be used for them. Somebody could use it more than I could. I really do appreciate the gesture. It’s an honest gesture and a well-meaning gesture. But I feel there are other people who could benefit from such a fundraiser.”
Galen was, “one of the founders of the perennially tough Bishop McCort High School team and coached the Crushers to three of their five state championships. In the mid-1990s Head became a volunteer assistant coach with the ECHL’s Chiefs and served in that capacity for a number of years. The Galen Head Jr. Memorial Scholarship benefits area high school hockey players and is in honour of Head’s son, a former Chiefs and AHL-IHL equipment manager who died in an automobile accident in 1996.” (Mastovich, Tribune-Democrat.)
Galen had a significant impact on the game of hockey wherever he played and coached. His impact was not confined to skills and abilities associated with the game as you can read from his hockey resume but from his character. As Dave Emerson stated, “We are proud to recognize him as a Grande Prairie Hero”, and on behalf of the GP Hockey Legends, we are proud to recognize him as a legend.
READ GALEN’S STORY …
Chairperson, GP Hockey Legends
February 29, 2020 People
As part of the 2020 Induction festivities Lorne Radbourne has been selected as the newest member of the Legends of Grande Prairie Hockey and was honoured at the Official Induction luncheon at the Coca Cola Legends Lounge on Saturday, February 29th.
Lorne was inducted into the Lifetime Achievement category and this brings the number of Legends to a total of twenty-five (25): two in Lifetime Achievement , eleven in the Builder category, ten Players and one each in the Referee and Media categories.
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AND LORNE’S FULL STORY…
They were the Cadillacs of hockey skates. Billy Bessent is a war hero and could have been a poster boy for Tackaberry skates back in the 1940’s and 1950’s. He wore these Tacks while playing for teams like the Red Devils back in the day. Think of the stories these well worn skates could tell.
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October 15, 2019 People
On September 22, 2019 I was saddened to learn that Hockey Legend Roy Borstad had passed away. I was honoured when his wife Barb called and asked if I would offer a tribute at his Memorial service. Following is a transcript of my tribute to a friend and outstanding citizen. Roy was a founding member of our Grande Prairie Legends of Hockey committee and served us well for sixteen years.
READ STAN’S TRIBUTE TO ROY …
READ STAN’S TRIBUTE TO ROY …