SUN Hockey Pool

Sports bars take Page from original

BILLY POWERS

, Last Updated: 7:21 AM ET

Last week in this space, I talked about the amount of money sports bars in the city are losing with the Calgary Flames out of the Stanley Cup playoffs in the first round.

But how many remember the first real sports bar in Calgary? We must go back many years for this one, and it's a pretty good story.

Buddies Mike Barnett and Rich Vogel opened a place called The Sports Page on 4 St. and 11 Ave. S.W., and it took off in a hurry.

It didn't hurt the waitresses wore tight-fitting shorts and tighter jerseys from various pro sports teams.

At that time-- the mid-70s, Calgary had the World Hockey Association Cowboys, the junior Calgary Wranglers, the CFL's Stampeders and a minor-league baseball team.

Many people frequented The Sports Page, which turned into an unqualified success and started a trend that continues to this day.

The business, though, was short-lived because Barnett and Vogel received one of those offers you can't refuse after just a year or so.

Legend has it that each had put $12,500 in the project and would be paid $500,000 for the opportunity to build on the property.

They took the money, moved to Edmonton and, using their own hands, built the Sports Page restaurant on Kingsway Ave.

Among the early customers -- underage but drinking coffee -- was a guy by the name of Wayne Gretzky. No. 99 and Barnett became friends, and 'Barney' eventually became his agent after forming a sports management agency called CorpSport International, which also grew into an incredible success.

Barnett sold the business to IMG in 1990 and became president of IMG hockey operations, working deals for not only 'The Great One' but also the likes of Jaromir Jagr, Brett Hull, Alexander Mogilny, the Sedin twins, and even Mr. Calgary Flame himself, Lanny McDonald.

In 2001, Barnett, a former minor professional hockey player and a graduate of the University of Calgary, became the general manager of the NHL's Phoenix Coyotes. He held the post until last season.

It's a fine success story that all started with a sports bar in Calgary, where there now are literally hundreds of them.

But here's a question, and one I can't answer, to be brutally honest. What happened to Rich Vogel?

FIERY FLAME

He's not getting a lot of ice time, but it's great to see former Calgary Flames winger Gary Roberts in occasional action with the Pittsburgh Penquins. In the first-round series against the Ottawa Senators, he had a two-goal game.

I broke the story of Roberts' return to the game many years back and it upset him so much he didn't talk to me for several months, other than the night he chastised me big-time at a birthday party.

Roberts, who I first met when I coached the Flames at a then annual slo-pitch tourney in Niagara Falls in 1984, admitted he was going to attempt a comeback, but wanted to protect himself from injury. He said he was playing in a city old-timers league and, because of his name, nutcases would run him time and again trying to make a name for themselves.

That's a sad situation, although it's worked out quite well for "Robs" and I hope he gets more ice-time if the Penquins continue along the Stanley Cup trail. Another ring would look good on one of the most dedicated hockey athletes we ever met.

FOOTBALL CAMP A HIT

It's a long ways away, but because it has sold out the last seven years, you should know that Joe Stambene's football camp is set for July 15-19.

The camp is in its 14th year catering to kids from Grades 4-10 and advocating fun and fundamentals. Cost is $170.00 and Joe can be contacted at 239-4342.


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