Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Shagman: The Mind, Body & Soul Of DU Hockey

(left) The self-described "best looking play-by-play voice in the WCHA," Jay Stickney

Sources: The Clarion, Westword, Denver Post

DU hockey players and coaches know him as "The Voice of University of Denver Hockey." But Jay Stickney was once the "Shagman" of the cheesy Denver commercials for Rocky's Autos near Mile High Stadium.

What's a "shagman?" David Rothrock - who founded Rocky's at a corner gas station in 1982 and has built it into one of the region's largest used-car dealerships, including a $100,000 budget for TV and radio spots - has the answer. "It's a name used for people who drive cars back and forth, from coast to coast or locally."

"I guess as strange as the commercials were, it was still fun doing them, being with the crew," Stickney remembers. "The weirdest part was really just meeting the general public. When you're out at the Adam's County Fair -- we went wherever there was dirt -- there'd be people waiting an hour and half to get a hat signed. It was like being a really bad rock star."

These days you can catch him live twice a week at the Ritchie Center as the voice of the University of Denver's Pioneer hockey team on KLZ 560 AM. "It's great being part of a team that's so successful for the past nine years. I get to travel with the team, hanging out with 20 & 21 year-old guys," says the 38-year-old. "I'm more like a coach. I drink a lot of coffee and just follow the puck."

"When I am on the air, I just pretend that I know what I am talking about," said Stickney.

Ask any coach or player to comment on his experiences with Stickney and the response will start with a laugh, smile or shake of the head, every time.

He is referred to by everyone who knows him as the team comic.

"Sometimes my humor will get me in trouble with fans though," said Stickney.

"One time, four or five DU players were called for penalties at the end of a game and a couple guys had to sit on laps in the penalty box because the box only holds about three players at a time. So I made a joke about there being a lap dance going on in the penalty box," said Stickney.

He added, "I got a call from an unhappy listener the next day. That was several years ago and I have not had any upset calls since. Maybe no one is listening to me anymore."

"I was the ninth pick for the job as DU announcer. They said it was because I was just too good looking for radio. I was just excited to be picked," Stickney joked.

Stickney said, "I have worked in many places, but I love working for the DU hockey program."

"Being able to call the games at the Frozen Four in Boston in 2004 was one of the most phenomenal experiences of my life, even if I did lose my voice by the end of the championship game," he said.

Stickney graduated with a degree in journalism and mass communications from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 1990.

He currently resides in Littleton with his wife and two kids.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Born a Bearded DU Fanatic in 1969, He's Finally Old Enough to Join the Freshman Class

(above) All the photos in this posting appeared in the original 1986 Clarion article

LetsGoDU: In March of 1986 the DU hockey team advanced to the NCAA Frozen Four for the first time since 1973. Needless to say euphoria swept over DU, and the main beneficiary was Denver Boone.

From: Denver Clarion

October 2, 1986

He stands about five inches tall in his natural state - not very impressive for a legend.

He'll turn 18 years old in April, but he's lived through enough trials and tribulations for two lifetimes.

He was an orphan child, all but forgotten during his infancy in the early 1970's. He made a brief comeback as he entered his teens, but found himself on the verge of extinction in 1984.

He's been walked on, spit at, put aside, shunned and criticized as a wimp by his most loyal friends.

But through it all, Denver Boone endures - with a perpetual smile as wide as the DU Arena and an undying enthusiasm for his university.

There is little question that Boone, the Walt Disney-created successor to Pioneer Pete, has survived some turbulent times at DU.

He has often taken the unnecessary brunt of a university just now recovering from a deeply-rooted image problem. However, Boone has been able to put behind him any controversy to become the symbol of a revived University of Denver.


Way back in 1910, DU's sports teams came to be known as the "Pioneers," and with the new nickname came the school's first mascot - Pioneer Pete.

Pete was little more than a cheerleader with a beard and a coonskin cap. His character portrayed a trapper, revived from Colorado's early pioneer days.

DU was trying to get into "big-time" football and Pioneer Pete was one of several additions to the sport's image. The same year the size of the marching band band was increased from 40 to 120.

Pete flourished with the success of the school and although every effort was made to let him work with all varsity sports, he became the symbol of the football program.

At the outset of the 1960's, DU's football program fizzled, and with it went the Pioneer Pete mascot.


Hockey interest built at a break-neck speed at DU during the 1960's, and the school began its search for a mascot for the hockey program. Surprisingly, DU's new mascot was the brainchild of a basketball coach.

The coach was Stan Albeck, who coached DU during the late '60's and went on to become the head coach of the ABA Denver Rockets, and NBA's Cleveland Cavaliers, San Antonio Spurs, New Jersey Nets and Chicago Bulls.

Albeck was inspired by Walt Disney characters and got in touch with a Disney artist through a DU contact.

Disney Studios drew up the designs for DU (the only group licensed to use the Boone character) and give it to the Theatre Department, which developed the first costume.

The next task was naming the new mascot.

The Special Events Committee held a contest in the fall of 1968 to find a nickname for the new Pioneer Pete.

Steve Kiley, then a junior mass communications major, won the contest with the "Denver Boone" title. According to a Clarion account of the story, Kiley thought of the name "while exercising his elbow and looking at the bottom end of a glass."

Doug Hirsh volunteered to help out the effort and soon became the first in a long line of Denver Boones.


Since 1969, Boone has been the official mascot of the sports program and, specifically, the hockey team. Many of DU's sports uniforms during the 1970's and very early '80's depicted the Boone on the front.

However, Boone's very existence nearly came to a tragic end in during the 1983-84 school year as a somewhat insecure student body rejected the "wimpy" Boone and strove for a more masculine prototype.

Efforts to replace Boone, which included a contest sponsored by the Clarion, proved unsuccessful as very few alternative mascots were developed.

Then in 1985 and '86 as the hockey team rose back to power, insecurities turned back into pride. A poll among students showed that a vast majority were not ready to get rid of their lovable mascot after all. Boone has weathered the storm, once again.

It was now officially time to reintroduce Boone to the DU public and Lamda Chi president Pete Castro came to the forefront to become DU's latest skating mascot.

Castro had little skating experience but made up for it with an intense drive to see Boone survive and flourish.

After passing out flyers at hockey games explaining why DU should save Boone, Castro took it upon himself to haul the decrepit Boone head out of storage, give it a fresh paint job and continue a long standing Pioneer mascot tradition.

Castro is gone, having graduated with the class of 1986, but DU students will have a chance to take his place when Boone tryouts are held Monday, Oct. 6 and Tuesday, Oct. 7.

For one lucky student, it will be the chance of a lifetime - to be an identity for the university, a source of enthusiasm for the student body and a hero to hundreds of wide-eyed children.

For Denver Boone, it will be an opportunity to once again return to where he belongs - at center ice of the DU Arena, sharing a smile with 5,000 of his closest friends.

(Above) The Clarion two-page spread included a "Boone Tryout Application"

Peter Mannino Writes Letter Supporting Boone

(above) Peter Mannino sent LetsGoDU a letter supporting the Boone mascot and what it means to him to be a DU Pioneer

To all Pioneers,

Throughout my career as a student-athlete at the University of Denver, I had the opportunity to meet a lot of students, alumni and DU fans. I met people from a lot of backgrounds and almost everyone was a big DU sports fan.

After my freshman year and all of the national championship ceremonies with alumni and fans, I also learned how passionate that people are about our proud school history and the mascot Boone. In arenas around the country, you’d see or meet people wearing Boone stuff or holding signs cheering us on. Including many people that I hadn’t met before.

It inspired me to research the history of the University and learn more about Boone, Pioneer Pete and the history of DU mascots. I learned a great deal from the University and alumni.

I learned that the original art came from Walt Disney studios.

I learned that the image doesn’t represent Daniel Boone or, for that matter, have any connection to Daniel Boone. It was a cartoon figure Disney Studios created in 1968 and called “Pioneer” since that was the name of DU’s sports teams.

I saw how it brought so many generations of Pioneers together. Once I learned the great tradition, I proudly wore the cartoon on my game equipment and still wear it today in professional hockey. It’s a character that connects a lot of people together- including me and all of those same people who I had the chance to see cheer on DU around the country.

During my senior season, more and more students began connecting with our history and the story of Boone’s Disney past. I joined with other student-athletes and student leaders to work on a committee that surveyed students and explored bringing Boone back as our official mascot.

We worked hard to be fair, survey everyone and share the data. Our results were overwhelmingly supportive and my fellow seniors were excited for all of the returning student-athletes since it sounded pretty positive that we were going to be able to bring our proud mascot back.

Things have changed and I just heard that the university has said no to the students’ request to bring back Boone as a formal mascot. I also know that so many students and alumni identify with the cartoon the same way Duke fans identify with the Blue Devil or the Oregon fans identify with the Duck.

We’re Pioneers and Boone’s our guy.

It’d be too bad if this impacts our school spirit and student or alumni support. I hope the students can rally together to be heard. It would be great if my teammates could experience the same student passion that I did during my four years at DU. The electricity of the student section at hockey games was always one of my favorite things about game days.

I’m proud to have been a Pioneer and Boone will always remind me of a place and time in my life when I went on my own new journey and learned what it meant to be a true DU Pioneer.

Go Boone!

PM, Class of 2008

Peter Mannino

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Puck Swami Describes Halloween In Boonetown

(above) Boonetown proved to be a dangerous place for Tigers on Halloween Night

LetsGoDU: Longtime Denver hockey fan Puck Swami wrote this essay for LetsGoDU on the festivities and atmosphere in the DU student section Friday night. He also writes a blog entitled Puck Swami's Know Your Foe which is updated every Thursday.

It's building.

It started with the smell of grilled bratwurst, and the sound of hockey sticks battering Tiger piƱatas just outside Magness Arena at the DU Grilling Society Pregame Party.

And inside, 30 minutes before Friday's game. there were 300 DU students standing in the south end. Usually there are 10 or 12 until almost the faceoff.

By game time, there were 500. And by the second period, there were 800 of them filling out the south end.

This was big.

The usual cell phones, Abercrombie shirts and nonchalance were nowhere to be seen. They had been replaced by Halloween Costumes. Posters. Full Body paint. Stuffed tigers hanging from nooses. Cleavage. Boone on Togas. You couldn't take your eyes off them.

Cowbells. Drums. Chants. Sweet Caroline. 1957. CC sucks. Cheering Chevy. Jeering Bachman. You couldn't hear yourself talk to your neighbor.

But more than anything, you could feel it. Something else was going on. This was more than just a rivalry game. This was different.

A crowd known for only cheering shots, goals and saves was now outright roaring on good shifts, forechecks and penalty kills.

The DU pep band was right in the center of it, students and alumni playing the DU fight song together at double speed, while students shouted the words and pumped their fist at every "Rah".

They were were together as one student body in a way I haven't seen DU students in 20 years.

And all across Magness Arena, the rest of the fans were grinning, cheering, and enjoying the collegiate spirit.

A night where they didn't just sit around and socialize, but a night where they shouted, sang and embraced the true college experience.

Most importantly, the team noticed. They hit harder. They worked harder. They outplayed the #1 team in the country and outshot them by 17.

Even coach Gwozdecky, who is usually wound as tight as the gears of a Swiss watch on gameday, commented that the student section and the pep band made a difference.

Because they did.

They cared.

They brought it.

And it mattered.

Magness is becoming a home ice advantage.

People are engaged.

Pumped up. Into it.

Let's keep it going. Looks At DU Alum Traded For A Bus

(above) DU Alum Tom Martin played in 92 games in the NHL in the '80s

Tom "Bussey" Martin recalls strange trade

By Evan Weiner - Correspondent

DU Alum Tom Martin was one of those players who seemed to bounce between the National Hockey League and the American Hockey League on an annual basis throughout the 1980s. He was good enough to be in the NHL but his career stats were pretty much non-descript. He played in 92 games for Winnipeg, Minnesota and Hartford between 1984 and 1990, scored 12 goals and assisted on 11 others. Martin was also a tough guy who rang up 249 penalty minutes in his NHL days, but many others could make that claim as well. But Martin holds one distinction that no one in the NHL, and maybe the entire sports world, could claim about his playing days.

Martin, who was a fourth-round draft pick by the Winnipeg Jets in 1982, was traded for a bus -- a used bus. That puts Martin in the same category as one-time major-league pitcher Keith Comstock, who was traded for a box of used baseballs as a minor-leaguer, independent league baseball player John Odom, who in May 2008 was traded by the Calgary Vipers of the Golden Baseball League to the Laredo Broncos of the United League for 10 bats, and Fred Roberts, who was traded by the NBA's Utah Jazz to Boston in 1986 in exchange for two preseason games in which Boston would play Utah.

On January 19, 1983, the Western Hockey League's Seattle Breakers dealt Martin to Victoria for a used bus and future considerations. Martin never played for the Breakers and decided to give the University of Denver a try instead. The left wing had played for the Kelowna Buckaroos of the British Columbia Junior Hockey League in 1980-81 and 1981-82 and ended up on the Breakers' reserve list. Martin decided he wanted to play hockey and get a college education at the same time so it was unlikely he would ever perform for Seattle. Breakers management was looking for a deal to get something of value for an asset it would never use.

Seattle was also looking for a team bus, and Victoria had an extra one. The Cougars management bought the vehicle after the WHL's Spokane Flyers suspended operations after 26 games in the 1981-82 season, but the Cougars could not use the bus that was sitting in Spokane because team management did not want to pay the taxes and duties to register the vehicle in Canada.

Each side got something they needed for unusable parts. Martin, a Victoria native, would play in Victoria in 1983-84, and Seattle got new wheels. Seattle needed the bus after its bus blew its engine on a trip to Kelowna.

"I was at the library that night, it was in the middle of the week and the season was going pretty good there in Denver," Martin said. "But I wanted to go back and play junior the next year. The team that had my rights, Seattle, they could not offer me any education. So I asked to be traded.

"You know Kevin (Dineen) was there, he was with me, we didn't think that much of it at first," Martin said. "You know, I went to bed that night but the next morning, the phone started going crazy and it ended up being a bigger thing than I thought and I got a lot of media at the time, phone calls from all the papers around the county and a few TV things. It was a pretty funny thing, I guess."

Martin, with his tongue firmly implanted in his cheek, took some exception to the characterization that he was traded for a "used" bus. But the bus did have some mileage on it.

"Well, it was used, but it was a fairly recently used. It was a fairly new bus," said Martin.

"I know it had bunks on it and it was definitely a team oriented bus. In the Western Hockey League they travel a lot and they need a good bus. Maybe it had better wheels than I did."

Martin left the University of Denver and played for the Victoria Cougars in 1983-84, but never laid eyes on the bus even though Victoria did play Seattle that season. Martin really wanted to eyeball the vehicle, but there was a problem. Seattle didn't have the bus when the Breakers played the Cougars in Victoria.

"I know it had bunks on it and it was definitely a team oriented bus. In the Western Hockey League they travel a lot and they need a good bus. Maybe it had better wheels than I did." -- Tom Martin

"I never saw the bus," said Martin. "I saw a picture of it. I got a picture sent to me once, they painted it all up and put Seattle Breakers on the side. Hopefully, it was a real nice bus. I didn't even see the bus that year because they (the Breakers) lost it. They had a kid from Europe on their team and he didn't have a visa and they tried to cross the border and they ended up confiscating the bus for six months that season."

Martin turned pro with the American Hockey League's Sherbrooke Jets at the end of the 1983-84 season and started his pro career thinking he left his tale of being traded for a bus behind. But he found out, quickly, that everyone knew the story. Martin picked up a nickname that stayed with him throughout his professional hockey career.


"I guess that's my handle," Martin said with a laugh. "That sticks with me with every team I go to and I everywhere I've been, I have been Bussey."

Martin ended his career with the AHL's New Haven Nighthawks in 1991. Martin is the only player in Western Hockey League history ever to be traded for a bus and that overshadows his accomplishments as a player, which included being named a first team AHL All-Star in 1988.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Chancellor Coombe's Email To DU Community Regarding Denver Boone Mascot

The Chancellor told Universty of Denver students in an email today that, "The Denver Boone figure (above) is one that does not reflect the broad diversity of the DU community and is not an image that many of today's women, persons of color, international students and faculty, and others can easily relate to as defining the pioneering spirit"

Sent Monday, October 20, 2008 9:10 am

Dear Students,

Last year a number of students and alumni began to advocate for bringing back Boone as the University's mascot. The Boone image was created for DU in 1968 in response to a perceived need to update the closely related Pioneer Pete figure used in the preceding decades. For similar reasons, Boone was replaced in 1998 by our current mascot Ruckus, the red-tailed hawk figure we adopted when we built the Ritchie Center and moved back to Division I athletics. The response to Ruckus among the University Community has been generally ambivalent, and in recent years there has been considerable underground activity in Boone images and memorabilia. This ultimately led to the students' efforts last year to resurrect Boone as our official mascot. I subsequently asked Vice Chancellor Peg Bradley Doppes to chair a committee that would consider this matter in a more direct manner and move it toward a resolution based on broad discussion. As the committee was formed, its charge was expanded to cover more generally the history and traditions of the University with the objective of developing greater awareness and pride among the University community.

The committee's initial efforts indicated a groundswell of support for Boone. Over time, though, the responses became more polarized, a growing number suggesting that the Boone image of the 1970s was simply not reflective of either the DU or America of today, still less of the future. From this perspective, the old Boone figure is one that does not reflect the broad diversity of the DU community and is not an image that many of today's women, persons of color, international students and faculty, and others can easily relate to as defining the pioneering spirit. Certainly, this runs counter to our commitment to build a diverse and inclusive campus community as a fundamental element of excellence. While there was some discussion among the committee members of the possibility of modernizing the Boone image, this generated little enthusiasm.

Opinion on campus concerning this matter is now quite polarized, and a resolution is needed. We need to move on. Consequently, I have decided that Boone will not become the official mascot of the University. While I certainly appreciate the genuine enthusiasm behind the "bring back Boone" movement, the University simply cannot adopt an official mascot that has a divisive rather than unifying influence on our community. The image will not be used in any official manner by the University, nor will we provide financial support for its use by others. That being said, Boone is a part of our history, one that is treasured by many alumni and friends as a symbol of the University they knew three and four decades ago, and we are certainly an institution that honors its past. Hence it seems reasonable that students and alumni be allowed to use the image as a celebration of that past, to the extent that they may choose.

This entire matter begs the question of what sort of image or figure should be the official "mascot" of the University, or indeed whether we need one at all. Our major symbol is the "arched Denver" logo that is now ubiquitous across the campus and in the media. One thing is certain--we will always be the Pioneers. I'd suggest that what we do need is a community-wide discussion of what it means to be a Pioneer, for today and the future, and I ask that the history and traditions committee and our student and alumni organizations take up this question with a view to building community and clarifying our identity.

Robert Coombe, Chancellor

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Writer Recalls DU's First National Championship

(above) Jim Brown & Murray Massier were two of the best players on DU's first National Championship team in 1958

Exclusive To LetsGoDU
by Dick Hilker (Denver Post Hockey Writer 1956-60)

A half-century after the 1957-58 team captured the University of Denver’s first NCAA hockey championship, those warriors of old are to be exalted once more.

Deservedly, the entire squad will be inducted into the School’s Athletics Hall of Fame on Oct. 23 at a banquet in downtown Denver.

To this one-time sports writer who chronicled that club’s unlikely climb to the apex of college hockey, the most single memorable game, of course, came on a frigid Saturday night in Minneapolis when those determined lands in crimson sweaters stunned the Sioux of North Dakota 6-2 in the title game.

But a two-game NCAA tournament did not make a season. Several important things about that team and that season still remain in my mind.

One was the fact that no one—not even Coach Murray Armstrong (left)—had expected that band of Pioneers to achieve what it did. Certainly, everyone correctly figured that “The Chief” eventually would turn Denver into a national power. But, after all, 1957-58 was only the second season of what was considered to be a formidable building project.

One-third of the player roster in Year Two was still comprised of pre-Armstrong recruits. Freshmen were not eligible for varsity play in those days and a half-dozen future Pioneer stars—including four all-Americas-to-be, Bill Masterton, George Konik, Grant Munro and Marty Howe—were enrolled in school but skating only during practice.

Yet, amazingly, the men who achieved The Fabulous First somehow turned the “future” into “now.”

(left) Bruce Walker, Murray Massier and Walt Dingwall were just three of Armstrong's elite forwards

Second, as impossible as it seems today, those Pioneers accomplished their feat with only 17 players on the varsity roster—including a back-up goalie who never saw a second of playing time and a versatile “utility” player who didn’t get ice time in 13 of DU’s 46 games.

College rosters generally were smaller then than they are today. But Denver had so few able bodies that stamina was a key ingredient in the season.

Remarkably, DU played the entire season with a rotation of only three defensemen—all- America senior Ed Zemrau, senior Blair Livingstone and Wayne Klinck, who had played for Armstrong’s successful Junior club in Regina, Saskatchewan. When Zemrau had to sit out five games with an injury, Al Barnhill came off the bench to fill in.

It should also be noted that a shortage of manpower wasn’t limited to playing personnel. The coach had no backup either. Armstrong had no assistant coaches or support staff except for a student manager. In fact, he didn’t hire as assistant coach until his 11th season at DU. But, given his ability to coach and recruit talent, why enlarge the payroll?

(left) DU's first line in the 1957-58 season comprised of Con Collie, Barry Sharp & Jim Brown

The third significant thing about that magical season was a six-game stretch between Dec. 17 and 31, 1957. After splitting the first two league games with Colorado College, the Pioneers were faced with four tough contests on the road against powerhouse Michigan and Michigan State, followed by two home games against Michigan Tech.

Those were the only games against those three teams that year and under the rules of the seven-team Western Intercollegiate Hockey League, they would count double in the point standings—two points for the winner instead of one.

In six previous games at Michigan, the Pioneers had only managed one victory and a tie and were solid underdogs going into Ann Arbor in 1957. Yet they pulled out two dramatic one-goal victories that were an omen of things to come.

Before moving on to East Lansing to face the Spartans, the traveling party spent Sunday night in Detroit. And since Armstrong had once skated for the Red Wings, he prevailed upon his old coach, the legendary Jack Adams, for tickets to watch the Wings and Gordie Howe play Toronto. It was a nice bonus.

Against Michigan State, the Pioneers had it a bit easier, winning 5-1 and 4-2, but given the hostile environment, the visitors had to work for both victories.

When the team’s plane arrived at Stapleton Airport, the triumphant icers were greeted by a couple of dozen fans and school officials, including Don Smith, DU’s sports information director who had not made the trip. Smith told me he considered the four-game sweep the most important event in the school’s hockey history—then in its ninth season.

I would have ranked the wise hiring of Armstrong as numero uno, but certainly that march through Michigan was a close second. The wins energized fan interest in the program and pumped up the crowds at the old DU Arena the rest of the season.

Hockey on the Hilltop was hardly a financial success in those days.

Attendance averaged only 2,756 (half of the arena capacity) in 1955-56 and was only slightly higher in Armstrong’s first season. But when all the ticket stubs were counted in 1957-58, the average crowd was just shy of 4,000. The significance of that was not lost on those of us who were hoping college hockey could be a profitable venture in Denver.

That road sweep was a turning point.

A week later, after the Pioneers swept Tech, 3-0 and 6-2, they were assured of a winning league record based on points in the standings. The 12-point sweep gave them 13 points, and although they won once four more games in league play, it was good enough for a second-place finish and a berth in the four-team NCAA field.

Still, few figured they would capture the grand prize. After all, the league champion Sioux had won three of the four games with the Pioneers, including a 9-0 pasting in Grand Forks in February.

Little wonder that a large contingent of Nodak fans was traumatized in Williams Arena in Minneapolis as the Pioneers skated into history—and the University of Denver Sports Hall of Fame.

An upset? Not really. As one of the DU players explained to me afterward, “Never count out Murray Armstrong in a big game.”

How true.

The members of the “Seventeen Blocks of Granite" (a nickname coined 50 years later)

(left) Dennis Slinn and Al Barnhill

Al Barnhill (So) - Defense and forward. “Barney” filled in well when called upon. Had played only juvenile-level hockey in Alberta, a couple of steps below Junior A brand played by most of his teammates.

Jim Brown (Jr) wing - Could really put the biscuit in the basket. Calgary native scored 53 goals in two seasons. Made all-tournament team.

Alan Cook (G) - If memory serves, he was also the team’s manager, but would have gone into goal in an emergency.

Con Collie (So) wing - Nicknamed “Dogger.” Played for Armstrong with the Regina Pats. If he went into the corner to get a puck, he usually came out with it, although he didn’t weigh more than 150.

Gordon Cresswell (Jr) wing - Toronto native played in 24 games. Wasn’t flashy, but dependable.

Walt Dingwall (Jr) wing - Scored only 12 goals for title team, but one of them—plus an assist—came in championship game. A valuable fore-checker and back-checker.

John Godfrey (Jr) wing - Played in every game and the Vancouver native was another of the good-checking forwards.

Wayne Klinck (Jr) defense - Teammates called him “Klincker.” He personified what this team was all about: guts. Playing with only three defensemen, this team gave up only 3.1 goals per game.

Blair Livingstone (Sr) defense - Blair was a defenseman in a wingman’s body, but he missed only one game. Solid and dependable. His most notable statistic of the season: Only seven penalties for 14 minutes. That was big considering his two defensive mates combined for 130 minutes in the sin bin.

Murray MacDonald (So) wing - Another ex-Regina Pat, who toiled on the third line. His forte was his checking ability. Wound up lettering for three seasons.

John MacMillan (So) wing - Not sure if DU has ever had a faster skater than Johnny Mac. Scored 19 goals and was named to al-tourney second team. Played a half-dozen years in the pros after graduating.

Murray Massier (Jr) center - “Muzz” was another of Armstrong’s Regina Pat imports. A wonderful stick-handler and playmaker. Was named the MVP of the NCAA tourney.

Rodney Schneck (Jr) goalie - He wasn’t highly touted when he came to DU from Wetaskwin, Alberta. But he turned out to be a stalwart in the nets, playing in every game for three seasons. Played in 94 games and the Pioneers won 58 of them. Usually came up big in the big games.

Barry Sharp (Sr) center - Big and strong, Barry provided the muscle up front. Tied for third in scoring on the team with 43 points in 37 games. In November of 1959 Barry was tragically killed during a pick-up hockey game at DU Arena when struck in the head by an errant puck.

Dennis Slinn (So) wing - Played with the Regina Pats juvenile level team and improved greatly as the season wore on, earning a regular turn on the third line. Scored a goal in tourney finals.

Bruce Walker (S0) wing - “Rooster” scored 18 goals and worked well with Massier. Recruited by Armstrong from the Prince Albert Mintos, a junior club in Saskatchewan. Solid player for three seasons.

Ed Zemrau (Sr) defense - Had a legitimate all-America year during championship season. A tough, hard-hitting two-way player who dealt out a lot of punishment.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Why Did NHL Scouts Miss The Boat On Stastny

(above) 43 players were drafted ahead of DU Alum Paul Stastny in the 2005 NHL Draft

Its not very often that we post comments from Message Boards, but the comment below was so interesting, I thought we'd pass it along.
From: How Does Stastny Slip To The 2nd round?
Site: Hockey's Future Message Board
Posted By: bleedgreen

"I watched him live quite a bit at the University of Denver and to be honest, he never looked like a stud prospect. He wasn't fast, he never went end to end, he rarely beat goalies with a shot further away than ten feet, he didn't dangle anyone.

Most players in the NCAA who go on to be at Stastny's level in the NHL, were far more dominant individual players in college. He got points for sure, but not very often through highlight reel individual efforts. I'm sure the scouts thought he was too slow and not dominant enough for his game to translate.

Why he did is because of one thing, smarts. He is the closest player I've ever seen to Ronnie Francis. He is always in the right place at the right time, and that translated, as well as his vision and awesome passing. He makes exactly the same plays he made in college, and they're the kind of plays that work at any level.

Scouts couldn't have known that, as I'm sure a lot of guys look like that at lower levels. Stastny is the rare case of a guy being smart enough to fit in with anyone at any level, the better the players around him the more it all works.

I'm curious to see his transition to #1 center continue as the players around him have helped out. As Sakic moves on and the team becomes more his, I wonder if at any point he can become more individually dominant if he is needed to. Hopefully the Avs keep enough skill around him to not worry about it.

After watching him live quite a bit, I didn't think he would ever be more than a third liner, despite him racking points and being a very good player at DU. He just didn't look he was dominant enough. Ironically guys like TJ Hensick [University of Michigan] are the ones who look like studs in college and don't reach the same levels. Hensick is a guy who relies on his skill and speed to get him there; it may not be enough. Whereas Stastny relied on brains and sound instincts.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Former DU Player Traded For A Bus

In the early 80's Denver had a player, Tom Martin, who left school after his Freshman year to play Major Junior hockey in Canada. While at DU he was traded to another team for a bus.
Martin was playing for the University of Denver during the 1982-83 season, the Seattle Breakers traded his WHL rights to Victoria with cash for a used team bus and future considerations. In fact, the deal was really just Martin straight-up in lieu of Seattle having to make a down payment on Victoria's spare bus. The unconventional deal was made in mid-January 1983.

"Our old bus blew its engine on a road trip to Kelowna," Seattle owner John Hamilton explained to a reporter from The Hockey News. "Victoria had a bus they couldn't use and we had a player we couldn't use. Bingo."

DU Library Digitallizing Classic Hockey Photos

(above) Legendary DU Coach Murray Armstrong won five National Championships

(above) A Russian player is helped to the locker room during DU's famous 2-2 tie game in 1960

(above) The DU ice hockey team poses for a group portrait around a Packard automobile at Reed Auto Sales on 5901 E. Colfax Ave in Denver, Colorado. All team members wear uniforms that read: "Tom Reed Auto Sales."

(above) Craig Patrick, Tom Miller, Keith Magnuson & Tim Gould celebrate DU's second straight National Championship in 1969

The University of Denver's Penrose Library is is in the process of digitizing its old hockey photos in the Special Collections Department for use on the internet. Check out the link to see dozens more photos.

Needless to say this is going to be a "Boone" to DU and college hockey buffs.

Note – a lot of the attributions are vague and/or wrong, but many of the captions can probably be updated with the help of the DU Media Guide and other sources.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Johnny Mac Still Bringing Home Hardware For DU

(above) Johnny MacMillan and his wife, Jolene at last week's Snoopy's Senior World Hockey Tournament in Santa Rosa, CA. Johnny Mac won two National Championships at DU ('58 & '60) and two Stanley Cups with the Toronto Maple Leafs ('62 & '63)

LetsGoDU: This may be the best article we've ever published in LetsGoDU. MacMillan recalls his years at DU, Denver's legendary coach Murray Armstrong, his days in the NHL, his thoughts on Coach Gwozdecky and one memorable day with the Stanley Cup in 2005. Thanks to D.J. & Johnny Mac for sharing this fantastic story with us.

The Incredible Journey Of A DU Hockey Legend

Exclusive to LetsGoDU

By DJ Powers
Staff Writer - NCAA
Hockey's Future (

Future Considerations (

Some call him “Mr. Two Rings”, but most people around the DU hockey program know him simply as “Johnny Mac."

John MacMillan played for the University of Denver from 1957 to 1960, and was a member of DU’s 1958 and 1960 National Championship teams, the latter of which he served as team captain. In three seasons with DU he scored 65 goals and added 62 assists. During his Denver career DU went 74-19-6, won two National Championships and drew 270,000 paid admissions in the DU Ice Arena.

He went on to play professionally for ten years from 1960 to 1971 that included the better part of five years in the National Hockey League with the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Detroit Red Wings. MacMillan was a member of the Maple Leafs’ Stanley Cup winning teams in 1962 and 1963. Most recently, he worked as a color commentator and rinkside reporter for the ECHL’s Idaho Steelheads.

MacMillan holds the distinction of being the only former DU Pioneer to have won both a National Championship and a Stanley Cup.

And he’s done it twice.

He, along with the rest of the Pioneers 1958 National Championship team will be inducted into the University of Denver’s Sports Hall of Fame on the weekend of Oct. 24.

Today, MacMillan still plays for the Denver Pioneers – in the annual Snoopy’s Senior World Hockey Tournament in Santa Rosa, CA. [The Denver Pioneers won the 60A Division Championship]

“I think the first time that I came to this tournament was in 2000. I missed 2006 and 2007,” said MacMillan. “I had to go to a family reunion in 2006, and in 2007 I hurt my elbow, so I didn’t make it. So that makes it six of them that I’ve been to. Jack Smith got me started, so that’s pretty exciting.”

MacMillan recalls a reunion that took place at Copper Mountain in 2003 when teammate Don “Cammy” Cameron, the driving force behind the Pioneers tournament team, got up to make a speech with the tournament trophy.

“I hauled it over to Copper Mountain. I took it in and Cammy got up and put the trophy up there, and said ‘you guys all need to put your skates back on because this thing (Snoopy Tournament) goes on. Here’s the fun we had, and here’s our trophy for winning it.’ I think some of them might have kind of taken it to heart.”

The Pioneers won their division at this year’s tournament when they defeated their tournament nemesis the University of Michigan 3-2 on Sunday.

And yes, they got to take home another trophy too.

John MacMillan was born in 1935 in Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada. Today, he and his wife, Jolene make their home in Boise, Idaho. He spent part of his childhood growing up in Grand Prairie, just north of Edmonton before moving back to southern Alberta, settling in small town called Milk River near the U.S. border. His mother was a teacher and his father was a grain elevator operator. He has a sister who is a golf enthusiast, and two brothers, who also played hockey though not professionally. His brother Keith’s two sons however did play professionally.

Many who follow college hockey know MacMillan’s nephew Tavis from his days at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks as both a player and a coach. Tavis MacMillan is now a scout with the Atlanta Thrashers organization. MacMillan’s other nephew, Bradley will be joining the defending Turner Cup Champion Fort Wayne Komets (IHL) this fall.

While MacMillan’s own sons, or “my boys” as he proudly refers to them, did not follow in their father’s footsteps into pro hockey, they do share his love of sports. His boys’ sport of choice is baseball.

“I have one boy that coaches baseball at the high school level in Tennessee. He loves it,” MacMillan glowingly said. “My other boy, Rob lives in California and went to school in Phoenix where you learn all of the fundamentals to be a scout. So he could go to San Diego, watch a high school team play and critique a boy, if he was asked to by a (MLB) club. Which has never happened. I’m sure he would be very excited if it did. And I think it would be a good thing for him.”

So just how did Johnny Mac come to play for the University of Denver? The tale behind it is probably one of the funniest and best recruiting stories you’ll ever hear or read about.

“Well, I was playing in Lethbridge and Murray Armstrong was the coach in Regina. I wanted to go to university and I wanted to play hockey. When I was playing in Lethbridge, we came to Denver and played an exhibition game against DU. Armstrong wasn’t there yet. Later, I heard that Armstrong had been hired as the new coach at DU. So I wrote him a letter in 1956. My dad was dying and he died that year. I was through with juniors and I was supposed to go to New York Rangers organization. The (Lethbridge Native Suns belonged Rangers). At that time, if you played for an NHL-sponsored team, and they thought enough of you, they’d invite you to a camp. I was supposed to go to the camp in Winnipeg with the Saskatoon Quakers of the old Western Canada Hockey League, but instead I wrote to Armstrong and said that I wanted to come to DU. Murray wrote back, in his glorified terms ‘Why John, you’re just the type of boy that we’d like to have at DU’. The whole malarkey that he had and still has I’m sure. (Laughs). I was accepted (into the school) and it was a great four years.”

As MacMillan explains Armstrong was a very unique coach and the experience of playing for him was unlike that of any other coach, pro or otherwise.

“He wanted the best from you and he didn’t put up with a lot of shenanigans on the ice. I don’t think that he had to reprimand or maybe he had to go to bat for someone of us at some point as far as our grades and what not."

Once I left DU and then went to play pro, Murray became a whole different individual. I think over time Murray changed. Some of the guys in the classes that came through after mine, because we were the first ones with Murray, would say ‘well he changed this and he changed that’, but I felt that he was always someone that you could talk to. You’d always go to talk to Murray and he’d say ‘Is that right? Honest to God, is that a fact?’ And you knew that Murray was no more listening to you than the man on the moon, but what he was trying to get across to you was that he was listening but he was also thinking about something else. So, you’d be in there with your little problem and he could probably handle it, but he would say ‘Honest to God, John is that a fact?’ At that point, you kind of knew that it was over. He understands your problem, so you didn’t talk anymore. You can listen to all of the guys here at the tournament and we’d all make fun of him. (Laughs) You’d be talking and someone would say ‘is that a fact?’ You’d know right away that Murray said that all the time.

In each pre-game speech, Murray would try to put a new word into your vocabulary. He’d have this speech and then out would come this word, and then you could see everybody look around and go ‘what was that?’ He used that word and he’d never used that word before. Then either after practice or the next day, we’d all be asking each other ‘do you know what that word was? Do you know what it means?’ We’d all try and figure out what that word meant. The word that stuck with me was “inveigle”. That was the one word from all of those years that I could remember. I know what it means now. I’ve heard used, but not a lot.”

MacMillan sees many similarities between Armstrong and current Pioneers head coach George Gwozdecky, not the least of which is a building a winner at the University of Denver.

“I think the two of them are really quality individuals. I would say that George is a little more intense than Murray was. I haven’t been around George that much. I’ve watched him on TV and have talked with him. But, the level of play when I was there and the level of play that George has to contend with now probably merits that. He has to be there with that. He's really a very commendable representative for the University of Denver. He carries himself very, very assuredly. He’s used to being a winner, he knows what it takes to be a winner and I think he carries himself that way."

"Murray represented that as well. He was so used to winning in Regina, and he had a system set up that continually replenished his talent pool. He had the pee-wees, midgets and juveniles programs feeding his team. He was successful at it too. Hell, I don’t know how often he went to the Memorial Cup playoffs or won Western Canada Junior Hockey, but he was a successful coach and a winner. And he exuded that.”

(left) MacMillan was the Captain of the 1960 National Championship team

One of MacMillan’s greatest memories from his years at the University of Denver was guiding the Pioneers to the 1960 National Championship by defeating the John MacInnes-coached Michigan Tech Huskies in Boston. MacMillan had scored two goals in the final minute that led the Pioneers’ 5-3 win, including the game-winner. A now-famous story that emerged from the victory has to do with MacMillan getting the game-winning puck. But as MacMillan explains, a National Championship title and the puck weren’t the only things that he took home from that memorable event.

“I had the game-winning goal and I had another goal in the last minute. One won the game and the other one was an empty netter. I think it was someone from Denver ended up with the puck somehow. I do still have that puck, although I can't remember who saved the puck. Bob Martin, who did the radio for Denver for years, got a letter from somebody saying that they had recorded the game over the radio. I still have a tape at home of the recording of the whole game that somebody gave me, so that was pretty awesome to get it. But again, it was a Denver fan that had recorded it and gave it to me.”

After leaving DU in 1960, MacMillan went on to play in both the NHL and the AHL. At the time, his rights were held by the New York Rangers. But a bit of luck and the prejudices against U.S. collegiate players at the time would play crucial roles in MacMillan ending up with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

“Earlier in the season when I was at DU in 1959-60, we went up to play at Michigan Tech, and Bob Davidson, who was the head scout for the Toronto Maple Leafs, came down to watch a game. We were sitting around eating breakfast one morning and he came over and said ‘my name is Bob Davidson and I’d like to talk to you.’ So I went over and talked to him for a little while, and I didn’t think much about it.

When I decided to go to DU, the Rangers released me. They didn’t want any part of me anymore, so they dropped me from their "Protected List”. Any professional club who thought that was I worth a hoot could pick me up. The Leafs put me on their List after Davidson had talked to me. Thank God, Connie (Conn Smythe) had moved on by the time I was Protected by Toronto because he didn't think much of U.S. college players. Ol’ Connie would basically say ‘we don’t want any of those candy-ass collegiate kids in our league or on our club.’ Davidson came to the game when we played Tech because Louie Angotti, who played for Tech, had been with the Toronto Marlboros before he went to Michigan Tech. I think Louie was pretty highly regarded. He called Davidson and told him that he should have a look at me. Eventually I received a letter from Toronto inviting me to their camp and the rest is history.”

MacMillan spent roughly three and a half years with the Toronto Maple Leafs, winning two Stanley Cups with them. MacMillan’s teammates on those Maple Leaf teams read like a Hockey Hall of Fame Who’s Who. But it was playing for the legendary George “Punch” Imlach that he remembers most fondly about his time in Toronto.

“When I was in Toronto, Imlach had acquired Al (Arbour) from Chicago. And we were sort of like in a farm system. Back then a farm system would have maybe have a defenseman, a goaltender, and a forward that would go back and forth (from the big club). Imlach was good to me. I mean they’ve got all these Marlies that I was playing with in Rochester, but I was the kid that Punch chose to run back and forth. That was good for me. Al was the defenseman, and I was like the tenth forward. So when you’re doing that, you feel like you’re a part of the team, but you also don’t feel like you’re a part of the team. You get to do that a little bit and you work hard to stay there. A lot of the players with Toronto at that time had come up through the Marlies organization. And Punch just came in and worked his magic with all of the personalities. He had a real feel for being able to get more out of people than probably a lot of other people could. Some guys didn’t like him, and some people had bad things to say about him. He brings up Johnny Bower, who was something like 40 years old, and gets five, six great years out of him. You would hear the names (Frank) Mahovlich, Red Kelly, Tim Horton, Bobby Baun, Carl Brewer and all of those guys. Wow! You want to try to break into a tough lineup? Try and get into that lineup! So when I hear those names, I get all choked up from just having been around them.

Punch was always honest with me and he gave me every opportunity to try to get me to do what he wanted to me to do. I was playing pro for, oh maybe one or two years and I remember Bobby Kromm was coaching in Trail (BC), and Trail had won the Allen Cup and would be going to the World Hockey Championships. It was in ’61, ’62 somewhere in there. At the time, the Allen Cup in Canada used to be symbolic of the team that would go to the World Championships, and then later they changed all of that. So I called Kromm and I told him who I was and where I was. He said ‘I know who you are.’ So I said ‘Well, I’ve got my degree in Engineering and I’d love to go to Europe with you.’ I’ve always wanted to go to Europe, just to play and see it. So he said ‘if you can get your Amateur Card, then you’re here.’ So I went to camp, worked hard and never said a word to anybody. I was still with the Leafs and then it came time for me to go talk to Punch. It wasn’t a helluva lot of fun, but you had to go talk to Punch. (Laughs) So I talked to Punch and we got to talking, then I said ‘I want to tell you that I called Bobby Kromm and this is what I’d really like to do.’ Then Punch said ‘I won’t do that for you, simply because Eddie Shore will pick you up.’ And then he said ‘ If you don’t go play for him, you’ll never play hockey again because he won’t release you. He’ll just hang on to you and that would be the end of anything that you’d ever want to do.’ So I didn’t get my Amateur Card and I didn’t go to Europe.”

In today’s NHL, each member of the Stanley Cup winning team gets to spend a day with Lord Stanley’s Cup. For MacMillan, his day came one summer day in August of 2005. While his time with the Cup in Milk River is well documented, an equally entertaining, if not more hilarious story was that of his travels with it to the border town of Sweetgrass, Montana.

“One day, I think it was Friday or Saturday, we were all sitting around and Mike (Mike Bolt, one of the keepers of Lord Stanley’s Cup) said, ‘I’d really like to take the Cup to Montana because there’s no reason that it’ll ever go there, but it’s been in all these states and I’d like to think someday that it’s been in every state in the United States.’ So I said, ‘hell, it’s only 13 miles from Milk River to Sweetgrass. So let’s go.’ So he says ‘what we’ll do is throw in the back (of the truck), we’ll just go down there and we’ll take a picture.’ He wanted to go down there, hold the Cup under the “Welcome to Montana” sign and take a picture. Then he says ‘I don’t want to report that I have the Cup.’ And I said ‘if you go through there (the border) and coming back they decide that they want to search you and you can’t sell them on the fact that you don’t have what you shouldn’t have at the border, and they find that Cup, then you’re going to spend hours there explaining why you have the Stanley Cup. So we convinced him that he should stop and tell them that he has the Cup and what he’s going to do. So we go through towards the American side. He pulls up (at the border), rolls down his window, and the guy begins asking him all the questions. So then he sticks his head out the window and asks the guy ‘do you know what the Stanley Cup is?’ The guy looked at him like “what do you think, I’m stupid or something?’ And then Mike says ‘I’ve got it in the back’ Then the guy says ‘you’ve got the Stanley Cup in the back of that SUV?’ Mike says ‘yeah’. Then the guy says ‘pull over and bring it in.’

So we parked out in front and brought it in. By that time, the guy had already left the window, gone inside and everyone in the place knows that the Stanley Cup is coming through the front door. So we come in and then he says to us “c’mon, we’ve got a plan.” So we all got onto an elevator, went up to the second floor and there’s a balcony in the U.S. Customs area in Sweetgrass, Montana that you could stand with one leg in Canada and one leg in the U.S. So they sit the Cup so it splits the line there and then all these U.S. immigration people are up there taking their pictures with the Cup. And they’re no different than a class of ten-year-olds getting their pictures taken with the Stanley Cup. Plus, they get on the phone and you can see this balcony from the Canadian side. And they holler out at the guys over there and said ‘take a look out the window and see what we’ve got’. You could see the Stanley Cup up there (in the balcony). So all of a sudden, here come all of these Canadians running towards the border. I don’t know how long we spent there with everyone getting their pictures taken. Finally that was all done. Then we drove out of Sweetgrass and started up the hill and there’s the sign that says, “Welcome to Montana”. So we pulled over to the side of the road. We pop the lid of the box that the Cup is in and get it out. We walked through this knee-high grass, through the ditch and up on the edge. Then Mike says ‘take my picture first.’ So he’s holding the Cup under the sign and we take his picture. Then he says “Now John you take a hold of it and get under there and we’ll take your picture.’ So as we’re doing all of this, this big 18-wheeler goes by and his (the driver’s) head turns and he sees the Cup. Well then, here comes another big 18-wheeler, and he just pulls over to the side of the road and stops maybe four feet from us. Then the guy jumps out and asks ‘is that the Stanley Cup?’ then Mike says ‘yeah’. Right away this guys asks ‘can I hold it? Can I get my picture taken with it?’ Of course Mike’s very accommodating. So here’s this guy standing in front of his truck holding the Stanley Cup getting his picture taken. He was just beside himself with excitement that this has happened. So we had a great time with it. We really did. It was fun to have it there.”

With all of his success, John MacMillan remains humble and grounded. He is genuine with a gentle humor. And he is also one of the most personable individuals that you could ever meet. Now approaching his mid-70’s, MacMillan is still as passionate and enthusiastic about hockey as he probably was the first time he ever laced up a pair of skates. Whether it’s stories and recollections about his wonderful family or the game that he loves, he will always share them with a smile.

Johnny Mac often describes his life experiences as incredible.

Well, Johnny Mac himself is pretty incredible too.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Heart Condition Ends David Carle's Career

From: Denver Post
by Mike Chambers

(left) David Carle was at the NHL Combine where it was first learned that he might have issues related to his heart

Incoming University of Denver freshman defenseman David Carle, brother of former DU star Matt Carle of the San Jose Sharks, withdrew from the NHL draft after being told by doctors Thursday that he has hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a thickening of the heart that has been linked to sudden death for athletes.

"I'm really quite fortunate they were able to find it before it was too late," Carle said. "It's tough, but I'm just trying to focus on the positives."

Carle was expected to be taken in the first two rounds of the draft. Matt Carle, who in 2006 became DU's first Hobey Baker Award winner, was selected in the second round (47th) of the 2003 draft by San Jose.

Matt Carle said in January that his brother is "better than me."

David Carle, 18, still plans to attend DU. Pioneers coach George Gwozdecky told Carle his scholarship would be honored.

"I'm grateful to NHL doctors for discovering it and very happy with the University of Denver for honoring my scholarship and still treating me like part of the family," Carle said.

Gwozdecky won't get the chance to coach Carle, but knows life isn't all about hockey, either.

"We are so grateful for David's long-term health," Gwozdecky said. "(Not being able to play hockey is) very disappointing for David, his family and, obviously, our program. But we are still very grateful to have him at the University of Denver."

Carle's disease is different from the one that forced former Avalanche forward Steve Konowalchuk to retire in 2006. Konowalchuk has Long QT Syndrome, a genetic disease involving electrical conduction that can lead to irregular heart rhythms.

"The first thing is, he's going to have to worry about quality of life. 'What can I do with my life? And am I an immediate threat?' " Konowalchuk said of Carle. "If he keeps his heart rate under control, phase two is he's going to be missing out on his whole career.

"I was upset and felt like I got shafted out of a couple years of playing, but fortunate that I did get to play as long as I did. He could live his whole life like, 'What if?' That's unfortunate. A kid like that, the NHL is his dream."

Agent Kurt Overhardt, whose clients include Matt Carle, is David Carle's adviser and informed all NHL teams Friday that David's career was over.

On Saturday, however, the Tampa Bay Lightning selected Carle in the seventh round (203rd overall).

Incoming Lightning owner Oren Koules pushed for the team to select Carle.

"The kid worked his whole life to be drafted in the NHL, and I didn't see a reason he shouldn't be," Koules said on the club's website.

Carle has spent the past two days studying about his disease, and he has learned a solid diet and only light exercise will give him a chance for a normal life.

He is motivated to help other athletes who don't know they have it.

"The awareness of the disease is not out there," he said. "I would like to stress to others that I didn't show any symptoms, and I encourage all athletes to get tested because usually your first symptom is cardiac arrest, so it's your last symptom."

Carle said his heart condition was first detected at the recent NHL combine and confirmed Thursday at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

"Once I got my results, I got back and read about the disease online," he said. "I was real conscious and paid attention to it, and I did notice some chest pains. But nothing in my workouts, on or off the ice, did I ever feel like something was wrong."

Athlete Fatalities

Athletes who died from hypertrophic cardiomyopathy while playing their sport:

Greg Menton: The 20-year-old swimmer at the University of Massachusetts collapsed and died about 10 minutes after swimming the 50-yard and 100-yard freestyles in a meet Jan. 11, 1996.

Reggie Lewis: Boston Celtics star player died July 27, 1993, at age 27 after shooting baskets during an informal practice.

Eric "Hank" Gathers: Basketball player for Loyola Marymount died March 4, 1990, during a West Coast Conference Tournament game against the University of Portland, about three months after he first collapsed while playing basketball. He was 23.

Sergei Grinkov: The Olympic and world figure skating champion died Nov. 20, 1995, at age 28 after collapsing in Lake Placid, N.Y., while practicing pairs skating with wife Ekaterina Gordeeva.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

DU Alum Glenn Anderson Battled With Media

(above) Today you're more likely to find former DU hockey player Glenn Anderson helping six year olds to their feet than hoisting the Stanley Cup, which he won six times, above his head

Today former DU player Glenn Anderson will hear his fate from the Hockey Hall of Fame Committee. His career numbers, playoff stats and six Stanley Cups would suggest he's a shoo-in, but a contentious relationship with the media and some highly publicized off the ice incidents, including the death of his best friend, have blocked his induction in the past.

Anderson only played one season at the University of Denver (1978-79) but he recorded 26 goals, 29 assists in 41 games. He was selected by the Edmontion Oilers in the 4th round of the 1979 Draft.

This excellent article from the Edmonton Journal documents Anderson's often rocky relatiship with the media.

Glenn Anderson's Hall of Fame numbers should speak for themselves, but his Hall of Fame friends have felt the need to lobby on his behalf for ages.

Because until now two equally influential factors have conspired to bar the former Oiler from the shrine to hockey greatness.

Some years, it was all about the competition; too many automatics like Mark Messier, Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Scott Stevens and Al Macinnis. But more often, Anderson's failure to garner enough support was related to an unflattering public persona, one shaped by the dark and negative headlines that followed him around the National Hockey League from Edmonton to Toronto, New York, St. Louis and even into retirement.

The problem will disappear forever today if at least 12 of the 16 selection committee voters agree that 1,099 points and six Stanley Cup rings amount to an admittance fee paid in full. Up to four players can get the nod and competition isn't stiff - Doug Gilmour, Steve Larmer, Adam Oates, Igor Larionov and Pavel Bure. The timing seems right. But just in case he needed to tip the scales, Anderson has been working on perception, reaching out to suggest his problem with the media has been rooted in misunderstanding.

We didn't understand him, he said, because we didn't take the time. I would counter that he wouldn't give us the time of day, or a thoughtful answer to most of our questions, and his standoffish attitude was detrimental.

What cannot be argued is the fact his relationship with the media went sideways and every negative headline played a role, however small, in keeping him on the outside of the Hall looking in at teammates Jari Kurri, Grant Fuhr, Paul Coffey, Gretzky and Messier. Though only five committee members are from the media, a larger consensus suggests Anderson has been left wanting with regard to the off-ice component of the voting.

He contends the negative media coverage has never told the real story of his personal life.

"Back then, I don't think they really knew who I was," he said of the Edmonton media. "They only wanted the story. I was categorized as a person before I was even interviewed. It was already determined and I was hung out to dry.

"That's not the individual I was. As years went by, we developed relationships. It changed. We finally came to a very civilized balance."

It didn't happen quite that easily. The bridge was burned in Edmonton and is only now being rebuilt. He returns phone calls, entertains questions, gives thoughtful answers.

For those who knew Anderson as cool, distant and occasionally antagonistic, his recent evolution can be traced to media courses he took in a continuing effort to educate himself and establish a healthy life after hockey. He has gained an appreciation for the role of the media and has been busily re-establishing relationships with sports writers he came to view as irritants; people who wouldn't look past the wacky grin and outlandish statements for any deeper meaning.

Anderson said he didn't want to think outside the box, he wanted to saw through it, and believes that oblique focus was misconstrued and he was written off.

But his larger problem with the Edmonton media can be traced to 1988 when his friend George Varvis died after collapsing in Anderson's pool.

"In Edmonton there were some things that were really blown out of proportion, especially when my very good friend died. I ended up getting death threats and hate mail. Everyone knew where I lived because the pictures of my house were on the front page. Every week I got a different letter in a different colour in an envelope. In Latin. Whoever was sending it was threatening to kill me.

"If it weren't for the media reports they wouldn't have had my address. I thought, 'Geez you guys have no idea what you opened up.' Then there was all the innuendo and false accusations of what transpired. I thought, 'Guys, do a little research. Find out what happened because that's not what went down.'

"Not only did I lose my best friend, but I'm getting wounded by all this other stuff."

He said the manner in which his friend died was misconstrued.

"I dove in to the pool and revived him by giving him mouth-to-mouth. He walked out of the house with paramedics and went to the hospital, where he had a relapse. People said he died right there (in the pool). Not true.

"It just showed me that I got treated unfairly. It snowballed from there and I'd always had to have my guard up.

"Now, I'm over it. I forgave and forgot. Life goes on. I'm not holding a grudge. Life is too short for that."


He is 47, living in New York with wife Susan and five-year-old daughter Autumn. He said he has resolved a contentious child support issue regarding a teenager from a previous relationship and continues to make regular payments, even though he still considers them too large because his income has been drastically reduced from that of his playing days. He runs a fantasy camp, plays in charity and oldtimers games and operates a hockey school in Connecticut, his wife is in the real estate industry and his daughter has done some acting.

"She makes more money than me now, because she's in commercials," he chuckled.

The laughter usually came easily to Anderson when he was an Oiler. He was, as he still states today, a free spirit. I bumped into him in Quebec City during the world hockey championship and sensed he is trying hard to engage. Skeptics would point to the timing, but I don't think he's simply shilling for votes.

"I feel way more comfortable talking to the media now, especially the guys I had been around for years," he said. "I respect them for what they have to do."

What they and other committee members ought to do now is put him in the Hall of Fame. His numbers say he belongs there and if voters embrace

Anderson's new persona, it's a slam dunk. After years of shrugging off disappointing results with an ambivalent tone, as if to deny the media any satisfaction, Anderson admitted to nervousness on Monday.

"For the first time," he said. "I don't know if we'd celebrate like we did after a Stanley Cup.

"But we'll be pretty happy. And if it doesn't happen this year, it's going to be pretty tough because of the players coming up and eligible for next year (Steve Yzerman, Brian Leetch, Luc Robitaille and Brett Hull). I know that.

"If it happens, great. If not, who knows what happens down the road."

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Vail Celebrates Testwuide's Captaincy At DU

From: Vail Daily
by Chris Freud

(left) From the "Golden Pond" to Magness Arena for new DU Captain J.P. Testwuide

Happy Mother’s Day, Janet.

“I usually get my mom some flowers or a card,” Vail’s J.P. Testwuide said. “I try to take her out for dinner or something fun.”

Known as J.P. or Jon Paul locally, Testwuide, a soon-to-be senior defenseman at Denver University changed up his Mother’s Day routine this year. There’s no word on whether Janet got flowers, but her son told her that he had just been named the captain for the Pioneers, the defending Western Collegiate Hockey Association playoff champions, for the upcoming 2008-09 season.

“She really couldn’t believe it,” J.P. said. “She was so happy.”

Not only was Mom floored, but it was a bit of history for DU’s storied program, which has won seven NCAA titles. Testwuide is the going to be the first native Coloradan to wear the captain’s C on his sweater.

“I didn’t really realize that until someone said it,” Testwuide said. “A school reporter e-mailed me, ‘How does it feel to be the first Coloradan to be DU’s captain?’ I didn’t know what she was talking about. Once I realized that I was the first, I was like, ‘Wow.’ That astounded me. There have been a lot of good players from Colorado who have played at DU. I didn’t expect that at all.”

And so the Testwuide brothers continue add letters to their respective sweaters. J.P.’s younger brother, Mike, a junior-to-be come fall, plays forward for DU’s archrival, Colorado College, and has the assistant captain’s A on his black-and-gold jersey.

“It’s fun,” J.P. said. “He got (assistant captain) before I did. He worked so hard. He deserves it.”

The announcement from DU coach George Gwozdecky that Testwuide would wear the C for the Pioneers led to some deservedly proud local reaction.

“I really think it’s an incredible honor,” said Jim Meehan, who coached both Testwuide boys when they played for the Vail Junior Hockey Association. “It shows the amount of confidence his team has in him. I’m not surprised. I thought he had an exceptional year last year. It shows the respect the team has for him as a player and a person.”

Big Role
Testwuide replaces graduating senior Andrew Thomas as the Pioneers’ captain. Like Thomas, Testwuide is a rugged defenseman. In fact, the Vail native is the ninth-straight blueliner to wear or share in the team’s captaincy.

“J.P. is the first Coloradan to serve as team captain in the 60 years of DU hockey,” Pioneers coach George Gwozdecky said in a statement issued on the university’s Web site. “J.P. has really established himself as leader with his tremendous work ethic and passion for the Denver hockey program. He is a tough competitor that will demand a lot from himself and his teammates for our team to reach its goals next season.”

Expectations will be high Magness Arena come the fall. The Pioneers finished third in the WCHA during the regular season behind regular-season champion, Colorado College, and North Dakota. But DU swept Minnesota-Duluth in the first round of the WCHA playoffs and won the conference’s postseason tournament by knocking off North Dakota and Minnesota at the Xcell Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn., for a berth in the NCAA playoffs.

“We definitely played well during the last part of the season,” Testwuide said. “We came together as a team. Put it this way, whenever you go into Minnesota and beat Minnesota, it’s a lot of fun.”

Testwuide had a hunch he might be inheriting the captaincy after serving as an assistant last year. Nevertheless, actually getting tabbed is another thing.

“I’m pretty much honored just to be the captain. It’s going to be exciting,” he said. “I think I still have to play my style of hockey. I don’t want to change anything up. You’re the player the team looks up to. You just have to be yourself.”

Trick or Treat?
Testwuide started with hockey just as most local kids do with a bit of ice time and a chair to keep upright at Dobson Arena.

“Probably my fondest memory of Vail was when I started skating,” Testwuide said. “It was with the chairs and it was on Halloween. I didn’t want to leave the ice. I can’t believe I wanted to skate over Halloween.”

Passing on the annual haul of candy that year was just the beginning. J.P. and Mike both played on the Golden family’s pond. Kirk Golden’s father, Paul, would flood his back yard each winter and the Testwuides, young Golden, Colin Kingston and Spencer Ellis and others competed in mythical Game 7s of the Stanley Cup Finals for hours on end.

Meehan coached J.P. from Mini-Mites through Squirts, and even then could tell there was something special about both brothers.

“I think you can tell who is a gifted player, even at a young age,” Meehan said. “The gist of it is that it’s not only good players with certain skills, but players who have a love of the sport that shines through. Both J.P. and Mikey were always that way, terrific players.”

J.P. played one year at the Midget (high school age) level in Vail before heading to the Northwood School in Lake Placid, N.Y. And yes, his home rink was the site of the 1980 “Miracle on Ice.”

Testwuide then spent two years with the Waterloo Black Hawks of the United States Hockey League, the American equivalent of Canadian Juniors before DU came calling.

After the tough transition from Juniors to big-time Division I hockey, Testwuide got his spot and hasn’t looked back since.

The Rivalry
As J.P. assumes the role of captain at DU, while Mike continues at Colorado College, the rivalry becomes more fierce than it already is. By all accounts, J.P. and Mike are the first set of brothers to play on opposite sides of the rivalry.

Within the Testwuide family, it’s been a good-news/bad-news scenario. Mike and the Tigers hold a 6-1-1 advantage over J.P. and the Pioneers during the two years the brothers have suited up. (For the record, Janet wears halves of DU and CC sweatshirt sewn together to the rivalry games in the interests of impartiality.)

Looking ahead to the schedule, DU opens against NCAA runner-up Notre Dame Oct. 11. Next are two games at Magness against Wisconsin, the team that eliminated DU in the first round of the NCAA playoffs. Two weeks later, J.P. and DU and Mike and CC meet in the first of two-home-and-home sets.

“It’s such a fun rivalry,” J.P. said. “I think both teams will be the teams to beat (in the WCHA). I can’t say anything about CC because it’s not good karma. Whenever the two teams play, it definitely a battle. Both teams bring their best to the table. I wouldn’t expect anything less.

“We’ve pretty much played against each other our whole lives. It just makes it that much better. We’re pretty much best friends off the ice, but we love to battle each other.”

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

WCHA Coaches Catfight Over Verbal Commitments

(left) George Gwozdecky & Gophers Coach Don Lucia don't see eye to eye on the issue of verbal commitments

From: Grand Forks Herald
by Brad Schlossman

There was a time not long ago when a player would verbally commit to a college hockey program, and soon after he would be pressured by other coaches to rethink it.

“Yeah that happened. Absolutely. I’d just have to go back as far as Zach Parise,” Denver coach George Gwozdecky said, referring to the former UND player who played from 2002-04.

And there are some coaches who believe those days may return.

At the American Hockey Coaches Association meetings last week in Florida, a small group of coaches pushed eliminate the “gentleman’s agreement” that was put in place a few years ago.

The gentleman’s agreement is that coaches will stop contacting a player once he makes a verbal commitment. This agreement is not bound by NCAA rules — coaches are technically allowed to recruit until a player signs a letter of intent, which can’t happen until an athlete is a high school senior.

But in the last four years, recruiting has become younger and younger. A handful of 14-year-olds have made verbal commitments. Fifteen- and 16-year-olds committing is the new norm. And this trend is a concern to almost all coaches.

Some believe the way to curtail the current trend is to ignore verbal commitments. Others feel that recruiting committed players would lead college hockey down the wrong path.

While it appears that the gentlemen’s agreement will remain in place this year, it might not stay that way for long.

“It’s kind of a mess right now,” Western Collegiate Hockey Association commissioner Bruce McLeod said. “It’s a highly debated topic. Emotions are pretty strong about it.”

Minnesota’s Don Lucia is one coach who has publicly stated that he wants to do away with verbal commitments.

“And he’s got a few allies,” McLeod said. “It’s not a majority. But the problem is that the three or four guys talking about (recruiting committed players) are the leaders, the more veteran coaches. That’s what has caused a commotion more than anything.”

Lucia said that some Hockey East schools pushed a new gentleman’s agreement that would allow schools to contact verbally committed players until May 1 of their junior year. The thinking is that the recruiting age would go back up under this type of system.

“The whole issue here is ninth- and 10th-graders,” Lucia said. “What’s going on right now is not good for the players, colleges or anybody. It shouldn’t be a race to see who can first discover and get a ninth-grader.”

Gwozdecky, the most veteran coach in the WCHA, is on the other side of the issue. He says he’d hate to see the day when coaches are recruiting committed players.

“I don’t want our sport to become like basketball or football,” Gwozdecky said, “where once a young man decides to verbally commit, that’s when the recruiting starts. I strongly feel that once a young man and a school have made a verbal agreement. . . . that is recognized by me as something that is an obligation both parties have to respect.”

UND coach Dave Hakstol says there were very good talks on the subject, but he’d like for the gentleman’s agreement to remain in place for now.

“It’s been something that’s unique to the hockey world,” Hakstol said. “I think it’s served us well. Are there ways to change it and make it better while still honoring the verbal commitment? I think that’s something we’ll talk about over the next year or two.”

There were two incidents in the past season where a coach contacted a committed player and asked if the athlete was content with his commitment, McLeod said.

“Both young men were true to their word,” McLeod said. “It was one phone call, that’s it. And it’s not like they were sneaking around. I know in one case, for sure, the coach called the other coach in advance and told him he was going to do it.”

That might be the norm in a few years.

“I don’t think that’s going to happen right now,” Lucia said, “but we’re not far away from it. I think we’ll be able to make some type of compromise.”