Kelly McCrimmon was bursting with pride.
The head coach and general manager of the Brandon Wheat Kings had just walked off a plane and was about to hop in a car for a two-hour drive home before getting behind the bench for a game yesterday afternoon.
Not exactly cause for celebration.
But when the subject of Ed Chynoweth's induction to the Hockey Hall of Fame was raised, McCrimmon's face immediately lit up.
"It was really special, a real nice event," McCrimmon said during an interview at the Richardson International Airport. "I had a close relationship with Ed. I've been in the Western Hockey League for 20 years and he's had a real big impact on the way my career has gone and how I've handled myself."
McCrimmon was among a strong contingent of WHL supporters in attendance for Chynoweth's posthumous induction.
Although much of the focus of the class of 2008 was on Glenn Anderson, Igor Larionov and linesman Ray Scapinello, the man who went in as a builder made his mark on the hockey world as well.
"Ed was real instrumental in helping us grow up in the league and understanding that the league always mattered more than individual teams," said McCrimmon. "He was all about the league and a big believer in all markets being equal and that big markets shouldn't have an advantage over small markets. He was a real proponent of all players having equal access to the talent pool, which is fundamental to how our league is run.
"The other thing with Ed is that he was a big believer in the player experience and he was instrumental in the formation of the WHL education contracts, going back to the early 1990s."
Chynoweth, a hockey pioneer who served as president for both the WHL and the Canadian Hockey League, passed away in April at the age of 66 after a battle with cancer, so his sons Jeff and Dean split the responsibilities for the event.
Dean, the head coach and GM of the Swift Current Broncos, was on the ice Saturday night for the Hall of Fame game at the Air Canada Centre between the Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs, and took part in the Legends Game Sunday.
That left Jeff, the general manager of the Kootenay Ice, to give the induction speech on Monday night.
"Jeff spoke tremendously well," said McCrimmon. "He was nervous about whether he'd be able to do it without breaking down. There were a lot of memories, remembering Ed and recognizing his contributions."