Harbour Grace loses legendary hockey coach
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.”
In this family photo, Dick Power holds his grandson Shane while posing with Danny Cleary.
Longtime Harbour Grace coach Dick Power died last week.