About Me

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Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada
I am a lawyer in Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada who enjoys reading, especially mysteries. Since 2000 I have been writing personal book reviews. This blog includes my reviews, information on and interviews with authors and descriptions of mystery bookstores I have visited. I strive to review all Saskatchewan mysteries. Other Canadian mysteries are listed under the Rest of Canada. As a lawyer I am always interested in legal mysteries. I have a separate page for legal mysteries. Occasionally my reviews of legal mysteries comment on the legal reality of the mystery. You can follow the progression of my favourite authors with up to 15 reviews. Each year I select my favourites in "Bill's Best of ----". As well as current reviews I am posting reviews from 2000 to 2011. Below my most recent couple of posts are the posts of Saskatchewan mysteries I have reviewed alphabetically by author. If you only want a sentence or two description of the book and my recommendation when deciding whether to read the book look at the bold portion of the review. If you would like to email me the link to my email is on the profile page.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Personal Connections to Saskatchewan NHL Players

Young Saskatchewan Hockey Players
My last post was a review of Fire on Ice by Darrell Davis. The book is about Saskatchewan born NHL players. In the book Darrell puts forward the oft made statement that everyone in Saskatchewan knows someone either currently playing in the NHL or formerly played in the league. I am no exception. Going through the book I found myself thinking of my connections with NHL players.

In the early 1970’s Lorne Henning was a skilled player who was an important member of the New York Islanders when the team was winning Stanley Cups. I knew him better as a fastball softball pitcher for the Resource Cardinals. I played against him several times in local sports days.

Rex Jennings would drop into the family farm to discuss wildlife and water fowl issues with my father. His son, Grant, grew up in Melfort and reached the NHL as a defenceman with the Pittsburgh Pennguins. We talked several times about playing professional hockey. Grant married the daughter of a Melfort judge.

In the book Darrell never caught up with Wendel Clark, a star with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Wendel grew up at Kelvington about 175 km from Melfort. During the mid-1990’s I remember talking to Wendel as a reporter after he had returned to Toronto for the first time after being traded to the New York Islanders. He had a special bond with the fans of Toronto and even with the media of the city. Until that night I had never seen a Toronto sportswriter invite a player for a drink later that evening. I think his willingness to patiently talk to people including reporter after reporter asking the same question reflected his Saskatchewan upbringing. He was a star without pretention.

Todd and Jeff Nelson are from Prince Albert. Their maternal grandmother is from Meskanaw which is my hometown.

Dave “Tiger” Williams was a rough tough junior hockey player for Swift Current. One of my best friends in law school played junior hockey with Tiger. He told me 40 years ago about Tiger inciting a brawl one night before a game even started.

After his NHL career ended Marc Habscheid turned to coaching. He was the coach of the Melfort Mustangs, the local junior team, in the late 1990’s and I spoke with him often about hockey.

I take exception with one statement in the book. Darrell says Derek Boogaard grew up in Regina. He actually grew up in Melfort where he was in the same grade as my older son in elementary school and junior high before he left to pursue a hockey career. Derek was by far the biggest guy in each grade.

Derek used his size and determination to reach the NHL as a fighter and an enforcer. Tragically his addiction to prescription painkillers led him one night in Minneapolis to combine too many pills with too much alcohol and he died at 27. I continue to wonder about the transformation of the big young boy I knew to the addicted man at his death.

Tyson Strachan, who has spent time in the NHL with the St. Louis Blues and Florida Panthers, was a good friend of my sons. I coached him for several years in minor baseball.

In our province there are 1,100,000 people. With 487 NHL players from Saskatchewan in the last 96 years it is not a surprise there are many personal connections with professional hockey players.


  1. Bill - This is really fascinating. I didn't know you had such connections to the NHL. So you read the book a real knowledge base and I'm sure that made it all the more interesting for you. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Margot: Reading the book for me was to read about friends and neighbours.

  3. Bill: I'm waiting to get this book from our Winnipeg library along with one about players from the Maritimes. I write an annual sports column before the holidays about books that might be of interest to Manitobans and this one may be. As for connections to NHL players, it's much the same here. Being an official who worked in the Western Canada Junior League in its early days, I did come in contact with many players such as Lorne Henning and have since played oldtimers with a number of old pros including Saskatchewan's Jim Neilson. Another Saskatchewan boy Morris Mott and I have worked on committees together. I always remembered Tiger Williams writing in his autobiography that if you could play in the Whitney Forum in Flin Flon, you could play anywhere. Players would talk about other players getting "the Flin Flon flu" as they rode the bus towards northern Manitoba. Those Bomber teams with Bobby Clarke and Reggie Leach were skillful, but as tough as any junior team I ever saw. The 1957 Memorial Cup championship team, of ocurse, played in the Saskatchewan Junior League, which no doubt toughened them up.

  4. Kent: Thanks for the comment which really added to my post.

    I thought Tiger's autobiography one of the best I have ever read. It was his voice and clearly how he experienced his life in hockey.

    I think every junior hockey player of the 1960's and 1970's who went north to play in Flin Flon would agree it was a test of manhood to play in the Whitney Forum.

  5. Did you know that Lorne Hennings, Resource and Brad Stewart, Eckville, Ab were distantly related?

  6. Brad Stuart Eckville/Rocky Mountain, Ab

  7. Did you know that Lorne Hennings, Resource and Brad Stewart, Eckville, Ab were distantly related?

    1. estewart: Thanks for the comment. I know Lorne and his parents but did not know of the connection to Brad Stewart.