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.

NHL.com 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

From: NHL.com
By Evan Weiner - NHL.com 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.