Hockey Legends

of Grande Prairie


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 Legend

Grande 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

Others that were eager to welcome him were members of his mother’s family, the Henning clan, including Max, his ninety-one year old uncle, surrogate father, and now fellow Hockey Legend. Max became a GP Hockey Legend in 2004.

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Clint and Max

Clint’s return to Grande Prairie had the earmarks of a family reunion. Clint visited with old friends and Grande Prairie Hockey Legends who attended the Induction Ceremony.

The Legend’s Lounge & Revolution Place

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

Tributes From Friends and Family

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

Also present at the banquet was a legend from a different sport – Clint’s close friend, Kelly Sutherland. Kelly is arguably the greatest, most celebrated and most respected chuckwagon driver of all time having won this distinction not just on the basis of his performance at the Calgary Stampede but in numerous settings throughout North America. Clint loves hockey, the hockey rink, and he loves horses and rodeos. What might Clint have achieved if he had pursued his interest in horses and rodeos instead of hockey? It is easy to imagine Clint, the cowboy goalie, as a bronc rider, a calf roper or an outrider joining the furious chase behind Kelly’s chuckwagon. Who knows? He may well have gained legendary status in that field along with his buddy Kelly. He was certainly no slouch in rodeo circles.

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Kelly and Clint

In addition to Clint’s Uncle Max, other Hockey Legends in attendance were Jim Patterson, Bob Neufeld, Roy Borstad, Marj McAusland, and Marv Bird. Marv, who became a GP Hockey Legend in 2005, has a long history of coaching in Grande Prairie and was well acquainted with the Hennings and familiar with their hockey history. However, he was surprised upon seeing the name Henning appear on the roster of a Bantam team from Edmonton to play against the Grande Prairie Bantam team he was coaching back in the day. It followed Mike Malarchuk’s move to Edmonton and the break up of the family. Clint resented any association with his estranged Dad and had changed his name to Henning, his mother’s maiden name. Clint was playing for the AA Edmonton Athletic Club and showing signs of the elite goaltender he would become. He was excited about playing in Grande Prairie with family and friends from his hometown in attendance. In the end the name change failed to work as both Clint and his brother Garth had already established reputations in hockey as Malarchuks.


Marv and Clint

In the place of Legends who were unable to attend or deceased were Marj McAusland representing her son Darren; Gerry Rigler, representing his nephew Doug; Gwen, and Cliff Turner and Suzanne Dunn representing husband/father Charlie; Rick Peterson representing his father Roy; and Barbara Shannon representing Johnny Macdonald. Each of these Legends have made remarkable contributions to young people in Grande Prairie and hockey has been an important tool in that mission. Their stories go back to the early part of the twentieth century predating Grande Prairie’s status as a town. The early volunteers served as role models, and the generations that followed have built on the foundations they laid. Special recognition was given to Billy Bessent. Max and Billy’s fathers were among the early hockey pioneers providing role models for Billy and Max and those that followed. Like his long time friend Max Henning, Billy returned to Grande Prairie from distinguished service overseas in WW11 to play a significant role in bringing about Grande Prairie’s Golden Age of hockey that will be described in Episode Three of Grande Prairie’s Hockey History.

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Max and Billy

The Induction Ceremony

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

She threatened to take possession of it and hang it on her wall. Considering the role she played as Clint’s “enabler” she has good reason to lay claim to the plaque. The original plaque will join twenty-two Legend plaques presently hanging on the Hockey Wall of Fame at Revolution Place – home to Grande Prairie’s Junior team - the Storm. Jean was unable to convince Clint that the plaque belonged to her and will take its place along with other hockey treasures in Clint and Joanie’s home in Nevada.

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Joanie Malarchuk and Kelly Sutherland

Over the years Clint has kept treasured goalie equipment that is a reminder of his remarkable climb from pond hockey in Grande Prairie and a period of crippling poverty and emotional stress to the NHL – and beyond. This valuable memorabilia has been offered to the Legend’s Project and will join plaques of the Legends in the showcase at Revolution Place. Revolution Place, formerly called the Crystal Centre, is home to the Grande Prairie Storm who compete in the Alberta Junior Hockey League. This venue displays the growing collection GP Hockey Legend plaques honouring players from the past and more importantly volunteers who have generously given of themselves to build hockey infrastructure for the benefit of all: young and old, participants and spectators. The GP Storm franchise owes its existence to Grande Prairie's impressive hockey history and its current comprehensive hockey programs. The Hockey Legends of Grande Prairie Committee is proud of its connection to the Storm and in turn values its support.


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