A firm handshake, steady, piercing eyes, a wide warm smile and a confident bearing characterize
the man who returned to Grande Prairie in 2015 following an absence of thirty-two years.
Homecoming: Clint Malarchuk’s Induction as a GP Hockey LegendGrande Prairie was Clint Malarchuk’s birthplace and during his childhood it was his refuge and favourite retreat. Having passed rigorous criteria for status as a Grande Prairie Hockey Legend, Clint returned to his hometown for induction as a Grande Prairie Hockey Legend. Upon their arrival at the Legends Induction Luncheon in Grande Prairie, Clint and his wife Joanie were surprised to be met by Clint’s “big” brother Garth, and his mother, Jean. Garth, a scout for the Toronto Maple Leafs, was attending a showcase of young hockey prospects in Camrose, Alberta, jumped in the car and made the 5 hour drive to attend Clint’s induction. His mother boarded a plane from her home in Kelowna, B.C. Clint was speechless upon seeing them.
Clint and Garth
Clint and Max
The Grande Prairie Hockey Legends Committee with leadership from Stan Neufeld and with sponsorship from the Royal Bank of Canada, was established in 2003. Its inauguration was held in conjunction with the Royal Bank Cup that took place in Grande Prairie the following year. The Legends Committee screen and approve candidates for the honour being designated as GP Hockey Legends. The Legends numbered twenty-two before Clint’s induction. With leadership from Kurt Robinson and Stan in November of 2011, Kylee Haining, Manger of Recreation & Sport Development at City of Grande Prairie, was successful in obtaining support from Recreational Infrastructure Canada and the City of Grande Prairie to establish a Legends Lounge in a sky box at the Coca Cola Centre, home ice to a wide range of hockey programs in the Grande Prairie area. The Lounge overlooks a rink and is intended to serve as a gathering place for Legends and their friends. Hockey photographs are on display to remind visitors to the Lounge of Grande Prairie’s rich hockey history and can be rented for special events. Family friends, and fellow Legends filled the lounge on Saturday, October 3 to participate in and celebrate Clint’s induction. The Lounge is home to a wide range of hockey programs and on this particular day guests at Clint’s induction as they visited and dined could hear in the background the familiar sounds of the game: pucks and bodies colliding with the boards, the clatter of sticks, calls for a pass and the referee’s whistle. It was a fitting place to conduct Clint’s induction where he was surrounded by friends and family in a setting that lives and breathes Canada’s game.
Legends Lounge ready for Clint’s Induction
In attendance was Clint’s childhood friend Tim Band. As noted in Clint’s induction biography Tim and Clint were Grande Prairie’s Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. There is little doubt that Clint and Tim could have entertained the guests all evening with tales of their youthful high jinks.
Clint and Tim
Kelly and Clint
Marv and Clint
Max and Billy
Highlights of the program that followed a dinner culminated in Clint’s induction, included congratulations from former Hockey Legends that could not attend and tributes from friends and colleagues who played important roles in Clint’s hockey career and his development as a significant voice in the mental health wilderness. There was a letter – several videos and an open mike session.
Duke (Garry) Edmundson who now resides in San Francisco wrote:
As one of the original inductees into the Grande Prairie Hockey Legends Hall of Fame, it gives me great pleasure to welcome Clint Malarchuk into this group of athletes whose roots are deeply imbedded in our home town. I played baseball with your father, Mike, who was also a goalie for the Grande Prairie Athletics as you, Clint, became a goalie, following in your fathers’ footsteps. I also know that you survived one of the most catastrophic sports’ injuries in hockey history, viewed live by millions on television. You came back within a few weeks and completed a long and distinguished career in the N.H.L. I feel honoured to be asked by Stan Neufeld and the selection committee to be part of this celebration and applaud them for their ongoing work in acknowledging excellence. Clint, I wish you every success in your future endeavours. You exemplify courage and perseverance and have made not only your family, but your entire hometown and country, proud to welcome you into the Grande Prairie Legends Hall of Fame.
Duke was the first local hockey player to make it to the NHL and earned two Stanley Cup rings while playing for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Duke followed in the footsteps of his father, Frank, who was an exceptional player during the Grande Prairie Red Devil era. While playing minor league hockey in Grande Prairie, Duke was coached by his father. Later Duke’s younger brother Bryan played for the Grande Prairie Atheltics (see Bryan’s picture as an Atheltic under Featured Stories, Hockey’s Golden Age, GP Athletics, 1954/55.)
The first video shown was prepared by members of Clint’s family and included messages from Dallyn Sahra Malarchuk, Clint’s daughter who resides in Minden, Nevada, - Lori & Steve Pierce, Clint’s sister and Brother-in-law of San Diego, California, - Bonnie, Samantha, and Colby Biassioli, Clint’s sister-in-law, niece and nephew of San Antonio, Texas, and Elenora (Casey) Goodley – Clint’s mother-in -law from San Antonio, Texas. Interestingly, both Garth and Jean appear in the video as they did not think they would be able to attend the induction.
The second video shown included congratulations from his childhood friend Kelly Hrudey, and
hockey commentators George Stromboulopoulos and Elliot Friedman.
Ken Hitchcock, presently coach of the St. Louis Blues, played an important role in enabling Clint to obtain hockey equipment that was beyond the financial means of Clint and his mother when Clint was playing minor hockey in Edmonton. His was the third video tribute played.
Clint’s mother Jean presented the plaque.
Jean and Clint with plaque
Joanie Malarchuk and Kelly Sutherland
Photo of the display at Revolution Place
Clint is convinced that his very survival from grinding poverty and the ashes of mental illness is no accident. He contends that there was a purpose in it all: that he was pre-ordained to become a positive voice in the fight against mental illness. During his visit to Grande Prairie to be inducted as a Grande Prairie Hockey Legend he found time to attend and lend his support to the Suicide Prevention Resource Centre Fifth Annual Chair Extraordinaire. Clint is a man of his word.
Grande Prairie Hockey Legends is researched, written and presented by Stan and Ron Neufeld