Har­bour Grace loses le­gendary hockey coach

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY NI­CHOLAS MERCER nmercer@cb­n­com­pass.ca

Har­bour Grace’s Dick Power was a man renowned around the re­gion for his abil­ity to teach young men both on and off the ice. Last week, Power lost his long­time bat­tle with ill­ness and died at the age of 75. The Com­pass caught up with Dan Cleary and Corey Crocker and got their re­flec­tion on what Power meant to them.

To his play­ers, Har­bour Grace’s Dick Power was more than a hockey coach.

He was teacher, parent and lis­tener all wrapped into one. Power was the guy play­ers could talk to about things they couldn’t nec­es­sar­ily tell their par­ents.

Power be­came a sec­ond fa­ther to them. The famed player and coach died last week af­ter a lengthy bat­tle with an ill­ness at Car­bon­ear Gen­eral Hos­pi­tal. He was 75.

“(Dick) was a gen­tle­man who had a care fac­tor like no other,” said long­time pupil Corey Crocker. “He was the only coach I had in mi­nor hockey. He cared just as much off the ice as much as he cared

The guy’s a leg­end. Dan Cleary

on the ice.”

There are plenty of sto­ries about Power in­still­ing the type of work ethic in his play­ers that could lead them to suc­cess in any arena they chose. He’d ask his play­ers to hand in their re­port cards from school to make sure they were work­ing hard there too.

“If they weren’t up to speed, there’d be no hockey,” said Har­bour Grace na­tive and pro hockey player Dan Cleary. “He al­ways had prin­ci­pals like that. Cur­few, geez I had cur­few when I was in atom and pee­wee. Cur­few barely hap­pens to­day in the pro­fes­sional game.

“He in­stilled a lot of discipline and work ethic. I’m grate­ful for that.”

From the age of five till he left to play hockey at age 14, Cleary only had one man coach him in mi­nor hockey. He cred­its Power with help­ing him ob­tain a lot of his goals in the game.

“He was a fa­ther fig­ure for me,” said Cleary. “He was a huge in­flu­ence on me, for sure, hav­ing the ca­reer I had. With­out him, I don’t think I would’ve ever left home. He’s the one that sent me away, he’s the one that said I could do it and he’s the one who ar­ranged ev­ery­thing.

“I’m 37-years-old and when­ever I’m home I made a point to see three (sets of) peo­ple — my dad and mom, my grand­par­ents and Dick.” A long ca­reer For close to four decades, Power served as the man­ager of the S.W. Moores Memo­rial Sta­dium in Har­bour Grace. In that same time, he was a coach in the lo­cal mi­nor hockey sys­tem.

It was a com­mon sight to see Power stand­ing some­where in the rink watch­ing a game on the ice or teach­ing.

Through the years, Power helped de­velop a sys­tem based on the fun­da­men­tals of the game, along with a healthy fo­cus on re­spect for coaches, play­ers, of­fi­cials and vol­un­teers.

It’s a pro­gram that pro­duced suc­cess­ful play­ers in the pro, ma­jor ju­nior, col­le­giate, pro­vin­cial ju­nior and pro­vin­cial se­nior ranks.

As a coach, Power was about more than just teach­ing the game on the ice. He taught play­ers the im­por­tance of hav­ing re­spect for oth­ers and be­ing a good per­son.

He wasn’t just a suc­cess­ful coach. Power was a star as a player as well.

It started with the ju­nior club in his home­town of Bell Is­land from 1957 to 1959 and moved to St. Pat’s in St. John’s in 1960-61. It was in 1961 when Power cap­tained the St. John’s Cap­i­tals to the pro­vin­cial ju­nior ti­tle.

Then, it was on to the se­nior cir­cuit where he helped the Cor­ner Brook Roy­als to a Herder Memo­rial in 1962. He’d spend 1963-1967 play­ing with teams Grand Falls-Wind­sor and Gan­der.

He fin­ished his play­ing ca­reer as a player-coach with the CeeBees.

All of this earned Power a NAHA Hall of Fame nod in 2001.

“The guy’s a leg­end,” said Cleary.

Dick also proudly served with the Har­bour Grace Vol­un­teer Fire Depart­ment and the Knights of Columbus. Plenty of sto­ries Crocker has plenty of sto­ries about Power that he can share.

There are tales of play­ers switch­ing equip­ment — hel­mets, gloves and some­times jer­seys — mid-game in an ef­fort to con­fuse op­po­nents and gain a tac­ti­cal ad­van­tage.

“He was a mas­ter­mind with stuff like that,” said Crocker. “He’d of­ten change goalies on the fly dur­ing games and just crazy stuff like that. He was very me­thod­i­cal and smart.

“He’d have us go and watch games to read the other team and this was in pee­wee.”

Crocker called his relationship with Power “spe­cial.” They kept in touch over the years and Crocker even coached a lo­cal ban­tam team with Power at one point.

“To coach with him was an hon­our,” he said.

When he teaches the game now, Crocker is still us­ing many of the tech­niques Power in­stilled in him as a young­ster skat­ing on the ice at the S.W. Moores.

Crocker and Cleary were set to take part in the memo­rial ser­vice for Power last Fri­day.

“He in­spired us to be bet­ter play­ers and peo­ple,” said Crocker. “You can’t ex­plain how good of a per­son he is. He was very spe­cial to me.”

TC ME­DIA/SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO/BOBBY WHITE

In this fam­ily photo, Dick Power holds his grand­son Shane while pos­ing with Danny Cleary.

COM­PASS FILE PHOTO

Long­time Har­bour Grace coach Dick Power died last week.

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