McLean named to Hall of Fame

BOB MACKIN -- 24 Hours Vancouver

, Last Updated: 8:35 AM ET

Ernie "Punch" McLean will take a well-deserved break from prospecting near Atlin in northern British Columbia so he can be immortalized in the B.C. Hockey Hall of Fame this July.

McLean will be inducted at a July 28 banquet in Penticton with Cranbrook-born New York Rangers' head coach Tom Renney, retired NHLer Doug Bodger of Chemainus, former BCTV sports anchor Bernie Pascall and late Canucks' trainer Larry Ashley.

"He was a colourful character who won a lot of hockey games," said induction committee member Jim Robson, the Canucks' ex-play-by-play broadcaster. "He sent a lot of players to the NHL."

McLean's 16-year coaching career was highlighted by back-to-back Memorial Cup wins in 1977 and 1978 for the famed New Westminster Bruins. National Hockey League greats Stan Smyl, Barry Beck and Brad Maxwell were among many of McLean's proteges.

The 73-year-old spends winter in Vancouver where he's a fixture at Canucks or Giants' games. He said his proudest achievement was teaching young hockey players the "glory of winning and frustration of losing."

He said the business of junior hockey has changed immensely through the decades.

"We argued for five hours whether we should let Medicine Hat into the league for $2,000 or $2,500," he remembered. "Now it's over $3 million to get into the league."

The induction banquet's master of ceremonies is Pascall, who called games at six Winter Olympics and 10 world hockey championships. Penticton, a Salish word meaning "place to live forever," houses the hall of fame in its Memorial Arena.

"A terrific, old-fashioned rink and I hope it always stays the same," Robson said.


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