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33747Re: [hockhist] 1950's and 60's Senior Teams

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  • Craig
    Mar 2, 2002
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      Thank you for this great post! I really enjoyed it.

      I reinforce your point about community support, I was amazed at reading how much towns like Penticton and Trail rallied behind their teams when they headed off to Europe for the World Championships. Cominco in Trail (the largest employer in the town and where most of the players worked) continued to pay the players their full salaries while they were in Europe so that their families would suffer no hardships. My only disappointment was reading that Trail asked all the NHL teams for financial assistance and only Montreal even answered their letter! They released goalie Claude Cyr to the Smoke Eaters and gave them $1,000.00


      -----Original Message-----
      From: Charles Roth <charlesroth@...>
      To: hockhist@yahoogroups.com <hockhist@yahoogroups.com>
      Date: March 2, 2002 12:44 AM
      Subject: Re: [hockhist] 1950's and 60's Senior Teams

      I don't have a lot on the Whitby Dunlops regular season schedules, or
      exhibitions against EPHL or AHL competition. I can speak about the Penticton
      Vees/Okanagan Senior League and Trail Smoke Eaters/Western International
      Hockey League.

      First, pre-season exhibitions were almost an annual event in the Okangan
      Valley and Kootenays. I'd say the amateurs won about 35% of the games. They
      were very good competition for the minor pro teams, because the WHL always
      returned, and some of the last pro cuts would sign on with the seniors,
      especially in the 1950s. The management in the OSHL and WIHL were seasoned
      former players and managers who had played NHL and minor pro hockey, who
      knew how to scout talent, and groom younger players farmed out by the WHL
      for a shot at the pros. It was a good agreement which increased the
      competitive level of the OSHL and WIHL, as well as a testing ground benefit
      for the WHL. You'd have to look at the rosters of the OSHL and WIHL to
      appreciate the talent there, and then compare the rosters to rosters of the
      WHL. There were a lot of pros going up and down year-to-year.

      From first hand experience with fans and residents in the Okanagan Valley,
      West Kootenays and East Kootenays--they are first class who are
      knowledgeable and loyal, and really supported their teams. High operating
      costs made the crowds smaller in the Okanagan in the early 1960s, but then
      the area was undergoing a financial recession, with depressed fruit prices.
      Economics also ended the WIHL, as many of the loyal senior fans were forced
      to move out of the Kootenays when the recession hit in the 1980s. The
      Kootenays faced fewer good paying jobs, which helped support the teams, as
      well as the slow down of mining (now gone) by Cominco, which supported Trail
      and Kimberley with good jobs and time off for hockey.

      What type of following? These senior A games in B.C. were as much a social
      function for some as dances and other community gatherings. The teams
      represented the towns, and the fans loved where they lived. Here's a quick
      list of results for Whitby, Kitchener-Waterloo and the WIHL/OSHL teams,
      which show why the fans supported their teams so strongly and loyally:

      1948-49: Spokane Flyers USAHA champions
      1949-50: Spokane Flyers USAHA co-champions
      1950-51: Nanaimo Clippers Western Canada (Patton Cup) finalists
      1952-53: Penticton Vees Western Canada champions; Allan Cup finalists
      Kitchener-Waterloo Dutchmen Allan Cup champions
      1953-54: Penticton Vees Allan Cup champions
      1954-55: Penticton Vees World Amateur Champions
      1955-56: Vernon Canadians Allan Cup champions
      Kitchener-Waterloo Dutchmen Olympic bronze medal
      1956-57: Spokane Flyers Western Canada champions; Allan Cup finalists
      Whitby Dunlops Allan Cup champions
      1957-58: Whitby Dunlops World Amateur Champions
      Kelowna Packers Western Canada champions; Allan Cup finalists
      1958-59: Whitby Dunlops Allan Cup champions
      Vernon Canadians Western Canada champions; Allan Cup finalists
      1959-60: Trail Smoke Eaters Western Canada champions; Allan Cup finalists
      Kitchener-Waterloo Dutchmen: Olympic Silver Medal
      1960-61: Trail Smoke Eaters World Amateur Champions
      1961-62: Trail Smoke Eaters Allan Cup champions
      1969-70: Spokane Jets Allan Cup champions

      As a fan, I speak from experience in the 1970s--it was highly competitive,
      good hockey. Very entertaining and many dramatic showdowns, especially in
      the long Allan Cup play-offs. Some can downplay the seniors, saying it isn't
      pro hockey, but its the calibre of hockey that had fans coming back, year
      after year. Many of the players, after the career was over, stayed in these
      areas and gave back to their communities who had honoured them in their
      younger years; they became coaches, managers, Presidents and referees,
      incorporating a community spirit, without regard for making a pro salary.
      These life-long steps in hockey built a solid base and following in
      communities with a population base between 15,000 to 20,000.

      Players of this type are what gave the kids of rural communities a real-life
      hero, not one seperated by a TV screen or radio, but one who they saw on the
      ice and later in the week on the street. These players were not playing for
      the sole interest of salary; they played a rugged, highly competitive game
      for the love of the game. This is what made BC senior hockey so special. I
      think the same could be said for the Dutchmen and Dunlops as well.

      Charlie Roth

      on 3/1/02 3:18 AM, Craig at argos@... wrote:

      > In the 1950's and 1960's Canada was represented internationally by Senior B
      > and later (after the Senior B East York Lyndhurts got hammered by the Soviets
      > 7-2 in 1954) by Senior A teams such as the Penticton Vees, Whitby Dunlops,
      > etc.
      > My question is how good were these teams compared to pro teams at the time?
      > Were they comparable? What type of folowing did they have among fans?
      > Thanks,
      > Craig
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