Keynote speaker and inductee Ken Holland

Keynote speaker and inductee Ken Holland

Okanagan Sports Hall of Fame welcomes legends

Three athletes, two builders and one team make up the Okanagan Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2012...



Ken Holland thought his first NHL game would also be his last one.

He was given a start in goal for the Hartford Whalers at Madison Square Garden against the New York Rangers in the 1980-81 season.

Holland gave up one goal on 15 shots in the first period of what would be a 7-3 loss to the Rangers, then gave up five goals on 21 shots in the second period.

“I remembered thinking to really enjoy the third period because it was going to be my last one,” joked Holland, one of six inducted Friday into the Class of 2012 of the Okanagan Sports Hall of Fame.

“Then (Rangers forward) Nick Fotiu took a shot that went over the crossbar and broke the glass, and I thought, ‘well, good, that will extend my time in the NHL about another 10 minutes.’”

Holland, who turns 57 next week, did play three more games in the NHL before, at age 29, he was hired as a scout by the Detroit Red Wings. He has since become one of the NHL’s top executives.

As general manager, Holland has guided the Red Wings to four Stanley Cups and was part of the Team Canada executive that won Olympic gold in Vancouver in 2010.

Holland was enshrined before a near capacity crowd of 160 at a luncheon ceremony at the Schubert Centre in the builders category, along with longtime family friend Keith Brewis, the founder of the Vernon Kokanee Swim Club.

Inducted in the athletes category were two Vernon hockey players, both with ties to the Red Wings. Brent Gilchrist and Ed Johnstone played parts of their long NHL careers in Hockeytown.

Also inducted in the athletes category was golfer Jackie Little.

Enshrined in the team category was the 2000 Brad Kuhn curling rink which won the B.C., Canadian and World Junior Mens championships.

For Holland, a chance to return to his hometown to say thanks to the people who helped him along the way in his professional sports journey is special.

“This (Vernon) is where I was born and raised and this is where I’m going to retire,” said Holland, who attended the ceremony with his mom, Lee, and nephew Jake Holland. “To go in with this class of people, for me – Keith Brewis was one of my dad’s best friends – is truly an honour.”

Brewis called his induction one of the greatest days of his life, but said he “couldn’t have done it” (start the Kokanee Swim Club) without a lot of help.

“I couldn’t have done it without the support of my family because swimming is a suppertime sport, that’s when practices were,” said Brewis, 80. “I couldn’t have done it without Gerry Goudge of the recreation centre; without the parents who brought the kids to the pool. And I couldn’t have done it without all of the assistant coaches.”

Johnstone guided the Rangers to the 1979 Stanley Cup final and was elected to play in the NHL all-star game in 1981. He twice led the Rangers in scoring.

After his career, he returned to Vernon where he guided the Vernon Lakers to back-back-Centennial Cup wins in 1990 and 1991 as head coach, and three straight Centennial Cup appearances (lost semifinals in 1992).

It was one of his coaches in Vernon, Odie Lowe, that Johnstone thanked in his speech.

“Halfway through my second season with the Essos, I gotta call from Medicine Hat (Tigers) and I didn’t want to go. I was the first guy cut from their training camp two years in a row and didn’t know why,” said Johnstone, 58. “Odie pulled me aside and said, ‘if you’re going to pursue this you need to get out of here. When you get there, pursue your dreams. And I did.”

Gilchrist spent his NHL career with the Montreal Canadiens, Edmonton Oilers, Dallas Stars, the Red Wings, and the Nashville Predators, highlighted by winning the Cup with Detroit in 1998.

“Eddie taught me in hockey school and back then there wasn’t anybody walking around the community that was an NHL player to look up to, so that was a great deal to me,” said Gilchrist, 45. “I looked up to Ken later in my career because he employed me. His reputation as a general manager in the NHL is fantastic.”

Detroit Red Wings owners Mike and Marian Ilitch donated $5,000 to the Okanagan Sports Hall of Fame on behalf of Holland, Johnstone and Gilchrist, and Tammy Stein, wife of current Detroit scout Marty Stein, donated the $280 she won in the 50/50 draw to the Hall.

Little, who now lives in Port Alberni where she and her husband, Pat, run a golf course, enters the Hall having won 17 individual international, Canadian and provincial golf championships, many of which came when she was a member of the Vernon Golf Club.

“Today is very exciting and I’m very honoured, especially to be part of this group,” said Little, who was accompanied by Pat to the ceremony. “It’s great to see some old friends who came out to show their support today.”

Kuhn was joined by his 2000 teammates, brother Ryan, lead Hugh Bennett of Salmon Arm and coach Jock Tyre of Kelowna. Kevin Folk and Jeff Richard were unable to attend.

“Today was an excellent chance to see Hugh because we don’t get to see him a lot anymore, and so many great memories came back today from that year,” said Brad Kuhn. “We had a lot of fun.”

Each inductee received a special plaque from the Hall of Fame, designed and created by Vernon’s Blair Peden.

The Funtastic Sports Society was a presenting sponsor of Friday’s luncheon.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Oliver Stankiewicz, pictured with his parents David and Laura, will run 100 kilometres Sunday, May 9, in support of the McMurtry-Baerg Cancer Centre at VJH. (Contributed)
Man on the move for Mother’s Day in Vernon

Virtual run supporting McMurtry-Baerg Cancer Centre at VJH

(Kingfisher Boats photo)
In the market for a boat in the North Okanagan? Be prepared to wait

Vernon’s Kingfisher Boats is out of 2021 models, with many 2022 models already pre-sold

A woman wears a face mask and shield to curb the spread of COVID-19 while walking in North Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday, January 6, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
57 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health region

Thirty people in the region are in hospital, 16 of whom are in intensive care

A hummingbird gives its wings a rare rest while feeding in a North Okanagan garden. (Karen Siemens/North Okanagan Naturalists Club)
Hummingbirds back for another Okanagan season

North America’s littlest birds return, and they’re hungry

The Vernon North Okanagan RCMP has released its quarterly policing report for the first three months of 2021. (Black Press file photo)
Vernon crime statistics trend upward to start 2021

North Okanagan’s two First Nations see biggest crime rise compared to first quarter 2020

Jose Marchand prepares Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination doses at a mobile clinic for members of First Nations and their partners, in Montreal, Friday, April 30, 2021. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization is coming under fire after contradicting the advice Canadians have been receiving for weeks to take the first vaccine against COVID-19 that they’re offered. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Trudeau says he is glad he got AstraZeneca, vaccines are only way out of pandemic

‘The most important thing is to get vaccinated with the first vaccine offered to you’

Solar panels on a parking garage at the University of B.C. will be used to separate water into oxygen and hydrogen, the latter captured to supply a vehicle filling station. (UBC video)
UBC parkade project to use solar energy for hydrogen vehicles

Demonstration project gets $5.6M in low-carbon fuel credits

FILE – A student arrives at school as teachers dressed in red participate in a solidarity march to raise awareness about cases of COVID-19 at Ecole Woodward Hill Elementary School, in Surrey, B.C., on Tuesday, February 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. ‘should be able to’ offer 1st dose of COVID vaccine to kids 12+ by end of June: Henry

Health Canada authorized the vaccine for younger teens this morning

A woman in the Harrison Mills area was attacked by a cougar on Tuesday, May 4. B.C. Conservation Officers killed two male cougars in the area; the attack was determined to be predatory in nature. (File photo)
2 cougars killed following attack on woman in Agassiz area

Attack victim remains in hospital in stable condition

A woman wears a face mask and shield to curb the spread of COVID-19 while walking in North Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday, January 6, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. CDC updates info, acknowledging small respiratory droplets can spread COVID-19

Large droplets, not aerosols had been fixture of public health messaging for many months

George Ryga, considered by many as Canada’s most important English playwright lived in Summerland from 1963 until his death in 1987. He is the inspiration for the annual Ryga Arts Festival. (Contributed)
Summerland archive established for George Ryga

Renowned author wrote novels, poetry, stage plays and screen plays from Summerland home

Grizzly bear. (File)
Malakwa man bitten by grizzly bear on dog walk

The man and dogs were not seriously injured

Two cyclists traverse a closed Bernard Avenue in downtown Kelowna on June 29, 2020. (Michael Rodriguez/Capital News)
Kelowna recognized as bike-friendly city

City earns bronze in nationwide Bicycle Friendly Communities award program

Most Read