November 8, 2010
No question game better thanks to Doc's efforts
By STEVE MACFARLANE, QMI Agency
CALGARY - Daryl (Doc) Seaman didn’t buy his way into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
His willingness to spend his money in order to grow the game he loved all his life earned him his spot in the hallowed Hall as a builder.
So anyone suggesting the late member of the ownership group that brought the Flames to Calgary is only being inducted posthumously into the Hall of Fame Monday because he’s a member of the NHL’s old boy’s club simply doesn’t get it.
The players we all grow up idolizing, mimicking and striving to become as kids rarely influence the game on a level as deep as a true builder does.
And when it comes to that category, Doc Seaman was one of the most dedicated.
During my six seasons covering the Flames, we may have passed in the Saddledome hallways or dressing rooms a few times before he died last year.
We exchanged nods or superficial pleasantries but never really spoke.
His presence as an owner was much more behind the scenes than others in the group.
His contributions to the game, however — rooted much deeper than just the NHL or the Flames — speak for themselves.
Part of the group of six businessmen that brought the Flames to Calgary from Atlanta in 1980, and widely considered their quiet leader, Seaman’s vision was bigger than just having an NHL franchise in the city he loved.
When Canada’s status as the world’s hockey power came into question during the 1972 Summit Series, when the Russians unexpectedly pushed our country to the brink, Seaman was determined to ensure the game grew at the grassroots level to strengthen it for the future.
He and his pal Harley Hotchkiss, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame four years ago, started a charitable foundation called Project 75, which funded hockey programs across the country.
From building rinks to funding research and offering scholarships, the foundation — now called the Seaman-Hotchkiss Hockey Foundation — is considered a major factor in Canada’s success at the junior level in international competition.
It was also a big reason the Olympics came to Calgary in 1988.
Seaman made a handshake deal with Alberta Premier Peter Lougheed in the early 1980s, and they got the Saddledome built as well as a training facility for the Canadian Olympic hockey team before the Games.
None of these things were designed to make Seaman money.
Leave that to the players.
Stars like Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux and Maurice (Rocket) Richard can change a game and, in their own way, grow it through popularity and ticket sales.
The modern-day heroes are well rewarded financially.
Contributing financially was Seaman’s reward.
He wasn’t one to boast about his achievements, either. The guy was a hero — in war and in life — but remained modest till the day he died after a battle with prostate cancer.
That will be reflected by his son, Bob Seaman, who will deliver the acceptance speech Monday in Toronto.
“He would have said very little because he’s a lot like me in that he didn’t relish public speaking,” Bob Seaman told NHL.com this week.
“He would have just said thank you and been humbled and honoured to be associated with his good friend Harley Hotchkiss in this kind of way. He would have been quite privileged and honoured to be a part of that company.”
Most of all, he’s deserving. Anyone who doesn’t think so is a fool, or fooling themselves.