Meeker visits Vernon

NHL Hall of Famer at the Okanagan Sports Hall of Fame induction dinner Saturday

NHL legend Howie Meeker will be at the Okanagan Sports Hall of Fame ceremony.

NHL legend Howie Meeker will be at the Okanagan Sports Hall of Fame ceremony.

NHL Hall of Famer Howie Meeker faces a full schedule when he arrives in Vernon Friday.

The soon-to-be-92-year-old is the guest speaker for the Okanagan Sports Hall of Fame induction dinner Saturday night at the Village Green Hotel.

Meeker, who will be accompanied by his wife, Leah, will drop the ceremonial first puck at the Vipers-Merritt Centennials hockey game Friday night at Kal Tire Place.

He will meet a gathering of 20 friends for a Saturday morning breakfast at the Village Green.

“I’m picking Howie and Leah up at the (Kelowna) airport early Friday and then I guess, I’ll have to buy Howie breakfast,” laughed John Topping, who will be inducted into the shrine as a builder.

Topping and Meeker became friends over the last decade when Meeker often came to Vernon in support of Special Olympic fundraising events.

“I golfed with Howie and Leah at Spallumcheen one year and I heard some wonderful stories from Howie,” said Hall of Fame director Kevin Mitchell. “He’s an incredible man who served his country in war and politics and continues to make an impact.”

Two-time Olympian and snowboard cross star Drew Neilson and triple Paralympic Games sit ski medalist Josh Dueck will also enter the Hall of Fame.

Tickets are $40 and available at the Greater Vernon Museum (250-542-3142).

Meeker is the last surviving member of the Toronto Maple Leafs 1947 Stanley Cup team. The Kitchener native compiled 27 goals and 45 points during his NHL debut and was awarded the Calder Memorial Trophy as top rookie in the 1946-47 season.

Meeker also played in the 1947 NHL All-Star Game and he also tied an NHL record for most goals by a rookie in one game with five goals against the Chicago Blackhawks. Meeker also won his first Stanley Cup with the Leafs that season, the first of three consecutive Stanley Cups.

He also coached the Maple Leafs, replacing King Clancy on April 11, 1956, leading the Leafs to a 21–34–15 record.