Wednesday, 26 June 2019

King to add Saskatoon Sports Hall of Fame to accolades

Dave King is a coaching legend in hockey.
    He is already a member of the Order of Canada and the International Ice Hockey Federation Hall of Fame, so it would stand to reason Dave King would one day become a member of the Saskatoon Sports Hall of Fame.
    On Wednesday at a media conference at the Gordie Howe Sports Complex, King was announced as a member of the 2019 class that will head to the Saskatoon Sports Hall of Fame as a builder. The 34th annual induction ceremonies will be held Nov. 2 at TCU Place.
    King heads a class that includes five builders, four athletes and two teams, while the 1989 Jeux Canada Games Foundation is honoured as the Sports Organization of the Year.
    King has built a legendary career as a hockey head coach that has spanned decades. He has already been inducted to a number of sports hall of fames.
    Still, King always get humbled by these types of accolades, and it was special to learn he would be going into the Saskatoon Sports Hall of Fame.
    “I’ve been a citizen of Saskatoon for a long time, although I haven’t lived here for a long time,” said King. “It is a real honour.
    “When I was given the word that this was going to happen, my first thoughts were for all the minor coaches when I was playing minor football and hockey and basketball and baseball, all those guys that created that interest in sport. I’m a pretty lucky guy.”
    The 71-year-old got his start in coaching way back in the 1960s, when he helped his father, Robert, coach the Greystone Heights community hockey team.
Dana Kidd, left, shakes hands with Dave King.
    From that start, Kings coaching career has taken him through the Saskatoon Minor Hockey ranks, the WHL, U Sports, the Canadian national team system, the NHL, the Olympics, Japan, Germany, Sweden and the Russian Super League.
    Most recently, he was one of the co-chairs of the Home Ice Campaign that raised funds to get the new Merlis Belsher Place twin pad hockey rink built on the U of Saskatchewan campus. The 2018-19 hockey campaign marked the first season Merlis Belsher Place was in operation.
    Overall in Saskatoon, King is best remembered for his work from two specific seasons. The first was the 1981-82 campaign, when he took on the role of head coach of Canada’s national junior team along with his duties as head coach of the University of Saskatchewan Huskies men’s hockey team.
    That season marked the first campaign of Hockey Canada’s program of excellence, where the national junior team would be made up a junior aged all-star players from across the country.
    Before that, the defending Memorial Cup championship team represented Canada at world juniors.
Guiding a team that included a star centre from the WHL’s Saskatoon Blades named Marc Habscheid, King oversaw Canada’s first gold medal victory at the tournament.
The Huskies 1982-83 national championship team picture.
    In the 1982-83 campaign, King guided the Huskies to a first place finish in the Canada West Conference with a 16-8 record and a third straight Canada West title. At the University Cup national championship tournament in Moncton, N.B., the Huskies won the U Sports national title with a 6-2 victory in the event’s title game over the Concordia University Stingers.
    At that time, U Sports was known as the Canadian Interuniversity Athletic Union.
    Before winning the national title in 1983, the Huskies fell in the University Cup title game in 1981 and 1982.
    During King’s time as Huskies head coach from 1979 to 1983, the terms “Hustlin’ Huskie” and “no one outworks the Dogs” became synonymous with the program.
    “That team, the majority of those guys I would say over 90 per cent of those guys played together for three years or four years, and we got to the national finals three times in a row,” said King. “Finally, the third time we won it.
A Dave King picture on display at Merlis Belsher Place.
    “We were a close group. We’ve all stuck together. We started alumni association with the University of Saskatchewan Hockey program, and all of us have stayed really in touch with it.”
    King said the bonds have never faded that everyone has from those Huskies years. When the 1982-83 national championship team had a reunion in the mid to late 2000s, almost everyone made it back.
    “When we had our reunion, we all showed up all but a couple of guys,” said King. “It was wonderful.
    “That team won, and when I look at the team picture, they won because they were a group of high achieves. What those guys have done with their careers since that time has been amazing.”
    A number of Kings former players from his time with the Huskies have gone on to successful coaching careers.
Dave King has a few pictures displayed at Merlis Belsher Place.
    The list includes Mike Babcock, who is the head coach of the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs, Willie Desjardins, who is the head coach and general manager of the WHL’s Medicine Hat Tigers, Peter Anholt, who is the general manager of the WHL’s Lethbridge Hurricanes, Marc Chartier, who is the head coach of the midget AAA Saskatoon Contacts and current Huskies men’s hockey team head coach Dave Adolph.
    Desjardins was the captain of the 1982-83 championship team.
    On the international level, King guided Canada’s senior national team for a number of years, and Habscheid played for him on a number of those teams. Habscheid went on to an extremely successful coaching career, and he guided the Prince Albert Raiders to their second WHL championship this past season.
    “When you coach guys that go on to coach, that is the biggest compliment you will get out of coaching,” said King. “You might win a championship and you might not.
    “When the guys you coach, your athletes go back in and coach themselves, that is a terrific thing, and they are all such great coaches. I’ve been lucky Mike Babcock and Willie Desjardins, guys like that who played for us at the university, they’ve all gone into coaching and been very successful.”
Dave King, right, meets an Optimist Twirling Connection member.
    Also going into the Saskatoon Sports Hall of Fame in the builders category is Gordie Howe Sports Complex operations manager Johnny Marciniuk.
    Marciniuk has been a consultant and co-ordinator with elementary and high school sports for more than 30 years, and he has had a hand in many sport endeavors.
    In recent years, he is best known for being one of the founding members of the Friends of the Bowl Foundation, which formed with the goal to raise funds to refurbish what is now known as Saskatoon Minor Football Field.
    Once that football stadium was refurbished, that initial project expanded to refurbishing on the sports facilities in what was formerly known as the Holiday Park sports park to become what is now known as the Gordie Howe Sports Complex.
    Being inducted to the Saskatoon Sports Hall of Fame didn’t cross Marciniuk’s mind as he has overseen the ongoing construction at the Gordie Howe Sports Complex.
Dana Kidd, left, shakes Johnny Marciniuk’s hand.
    “It is an incredible honour for me,” said Marciniuk. “There are between two to three thousand members when you look at the individual members and the teams and the members of those teams.
    “To be a part of that is breathtaking for me. I always say that I am a grunt, and I like to make things happen behind the scenes and those type of things. To be even considered with that group is an honour for me.”
    While construction is still ongoing, Marciniuk marvels at what has already been completed.
    “It has been a labour of love here for us and whole Friends of the Bowl committee,” said Marciniuk. “We’re a little over halfway there, and there is lots more to come.
    “I am very proud of what the community has provided here for us. All the people of the community own this facility, so we’re very proud to be a part of it.”
    Also entering the hall in the builders category are Lawrence Beatty in softball, Dale Clancy in wrestling and Al Mitchell in football.
Johnny Marciniuk, left, and Al Mitchell left marks as sports builders.
    The athletes being inducted in the Fiona Cribb in triathlon, Terry Lehne in football, Donna Saworski in fencing and Jake Wetzel in rowing.
    The teams heading to the hall include the 2012 and 2014 Merle Kopach masters women’s curling teams and the 2005 Optimist Twirling Connection baton twirling team.

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