Hockey Hall of Fame an­nounces nom­i­na­tion process and web­site

The Southwest Booster - - NEWS - ERICANDERS­ON SPE­CIAL TO THE SOUTH­WEST BOOSTER

It’s about time.

That was the sen­ti­ment Tues­day in Regina as the Saskatchew­an Hockey Hall of Fame un­veiled its nom­i­na­tion process.

De­spite pro­duc­ing a dis­pro­por­tion­ate num­ber of Na­tional Hockey League play­ers, the prov­ince has never had a venue to cel­e­brate its hockey le­gends. That will change next sum­mer in Swift Cur­rent.

The Credit Union I-Plex will be the site of the Hall of Fame. For Mick MacBean, co-chair­man of the Hall’s 11 mem­ber Board of Direc­tors, the nom­i­na­tion process is a big step. “To­day marks the cul­mi­na­tion of one of the pro­cesses where we’re now ready to go to the pub­lic with the in­duc­tion process that Jack Brod­sky has led.”

MacBean, along with Board di­rec­tor Jack Brod­sky, Min­is­ter of Tourism, Parks, Cul­ture and Sport Bill Hutchin­son, and for­mer NHL star Tiger Wil­liams, spoke at the press con­fer­ence.

Each ex­pressed their ex­cite­ment about the up­com­ing nom­i­na­tion process.

The pub­lic is en­cour­aged to visit www.saskhock­ey­hallof­fame.com and down­load nom­i­na­tion forms.

The Hall is look­ing for play­ers, coaches, builders, teams, of­fi­cials and grass­roots con­trib­u­tors hail­ing from Saskatchew­an. 10 play­ers, five builders, five teams, as well as of­fi­cials and one grass­roots builder will be the first in­ductees at a cer­e­mony in Swift Cur­rent next Au­gust.

Nom­i­na­tions must be re­ceived by Septem­ber 1st, and the in­au­gu­ral class will be an­nounced on Jan­uary 20, 2012, which hap­pens to be Hockey Day in Saskatchew­an. The nom­i­na­tion panel will be made up of seven peo­ple, in­clud­ing two mem­bers of the me­dia and Tiger Wil­liams.

Who the first in­ductees should be was a fun topic for de­bate.

“ You start look­ing at the se­lec­tion of play­ers in Saskatchew­an, it’s ab­so­lutely un­be­liev­able,” said Tiger Wil­liams. “Gordie Howe, Johnny Bauer, the list goes on and on. We are at the cen­ter of hockey as far as I’m con­cerned, and now we get to tell the rest of Canada.”

Reach­ing this point was not easy for MacBean and his col­leagues. What started as an idea from Wy­mark’s Marc Hab­scheid three years ago ended up in a prov­ince wide ef­fort to make the Hall a re­al­ity. MacBean re­mem­bers vis­it­ing with hockey fans through­out the prov­ince.

“ We didn’t have one re­jec­tion from any­one to sit on the board be­cause ev­ery­one in Saskatchew­an gets hockey. They’re pas­sion­ate about it and peo­ple were sur­prised we didn’t have a Hockey Hall of Fame. We do have a good sports Hall of Fame, but noth­ing specif­i­cally for hockey. So ev­ery­one un­der­stood the need.”

The work is far from over for MacBean and the Board. Fund­ing still needs to be found for the venue’s con­struc­tion, which will be lo­cated next to the curl­ing rink at the I-Plex.

“ The City of Swift Cur­rent has been a great part­ner,” MacBean noted, “and we have agreed that we will go out and fundraise to de­velop all that space. Our fundrais­ing chal­lenges are big. We’re go­ing to have to raise three-quar­ter of a mil­lion dol­lars to de­velop this space and make it a real at­trac­tion.”

At­tract­ing tourists trav­el­ing along the Trans-Canada High­way will be key to the Hall of Fame’s suc­cess. The Board of Direc­tors are choos­ing a de­sign that is a “must-see, top-end venue,” that will at­tract hockey fans from across the coun­try. The tourism im­pact on the city is not lost on Min­is­ter Hutchin­son.

“This is go­ing to give them yet an­other rea­son to visit Saskatchew­an and spend a bit of time. Maybe spend a few dol­lars. It is re­ally go­ing to help put Swift Cur­rent in par­tic­u­lar and Saskatchew­an in gen­eral on the map.”

Hutchin­son said al­though the Pro­vin­cial Gov­ern­ment has not been asked to help with fund­ing, they are ex­pect­ing a pro­posal within the next few months.

The next step for the Hall of Fame will be es­tab­lish­ing a fundrais­ing pro­gram. Busi­nesses through­out West­ern Canada will be ap­proached to con­trib­ute. MacBean, a Swift Cur­rent na­tive now liv­ing in Cal­gary, is con­fi­dent Saskatchew­an will step up to the plate.

“There’s a lot of en­ergy and en­thu­si­asm due to the eco­nomic boom. There’s also a large cor­po­rate pres­ence in the prov­ince right now. So I hope it’ll trans­late to the fundrais­ing ef­forts.”

MacBean also en­cour­ages lo­cal res­i­dents to vol­un­teer for a com­mit­tee that will or­ga­nize next year’s in­au­gu­ra­tion. Once the fundrais­ing ef­forts are com­plete, a call will go out to the pub­lic for vol­un­teers.

For for­mer Swift Cur­rent Bronco Tiger Wil­liams, the Hall of Fame’s suc­cess will de­pend on the com­mu­nity’s pas­sion for hockey.

“I think it means ev­ery­thing. This is a big deal for us in Swift Cur­rent. I hope ev­ery­body in the South­west ap­pre­ci­ates the ef­fort the Board of Direc­tors have put into it.”

As MacBean pre­pares to hit the road to fundraise, he could not help but share his en­thu­si­asm for the fu­ture.

“ We’re go­ing to cre­ate a top tier venue to host and hon­our these peo­ple who are be­ing in­ducted. I think this is go­ing to be a real jewel for the city.”

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