SUN Hockey Pool

'Never wanted to quit'

TERRY JONES -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 10:01 AM ET

There were few greater pleasures in sport than sitting around listening to Lorne Davis spin stories and talk hockey.

Everywhere that scouts gathered, when the man from the Edmonton Oilers walked into the room, everybody would find a place near him to listen to him tell the tales.

He was the dean. Lorne Davis was the world's oldest working hockey scout.

He died yesterday at age 78.

You won't find Davis in the Hockey Hall of Fame as a player, although if there were a corner for scouts - and there should be - he'd be in the first batch of guys you'd put in there, along with Jerry Melnyk and maybe one or two others.

Davis won a Stanley Cup with the Montreal Canadiens in 1953 and played for four of the 'Original Six' NHL teams - Montreal, Detroit, Chicago and Boston. Not bad considering he only played 95 NHL games in his 18-year career.

Only one guy in the entire history of hockey can say they played with both Gordie Howe and Rocket Richard, was traded with Terry Sawchuk and won five Stanley Cups as scout of the team featuring Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Paul Coffey, Jari Kurri, Grant Fuhr, Glenn Anderson and Kevin Lowe.

News of Davis's death came yesterday afternoon when Oilers' VP of Hockey Operations Kevin Prendergast was about to leave his office at Rexall Place.

"At the end of training camp he wasn't feeling well and a month ago he was having problems with his back, so we took him off the road," said Prendergast.

"It was just a week or so ago Lorne took some tests and found out his body was full of cancer. Last Thursday he admitted himself to hospital in Regina and made them wheel him into a room where he could watch the shootout of our game from Detroit."

Davis was in his 42nd year scouting, his 25th with the Oilers.

"In this business, he was a special person," said Prendergast.

"He was as sharp as a tack. He never wanted to quit. He had lots of money. It wasn't that. He just loved it, loved everything about it.

"It's sad for our organization. He's been here for so long. It's a big void for this staff. He was a centrepiece for our staff."

While everybody in hockey will be remembering the great guy, the story-teller and all the fun, Prendergast will be remembering an occasionally very ornery cuss who was never more ornery than back at the draft in 1994 when the Oilers had the fourth and sixth picks.

"He kept everybody up all night arguing for Ryan Smyth over Jason Bonsignore. He didn't want any part of Bonsignore. But Glen Sather had made up his mind and picked Bonsignore fourth. Fortunately he argued well enough for Smyth that we got Ryan with the six pick."

Davis was an assistant with Clare Drake coaching Canada's Olympic hockey team at the 1988 Calgary Olympics. And while he may have lost the Bonsignore, he won the one that year to draft a kid by the name of Glenn Anderson.

For the past several years Davis was able to scout with his son Brad on the same Oilers staff. Another son, Darrell, is the football writer for the Regina Leader Post.

"It was fun at some of the scouting meetings to listen to Lorne tell Brad to @#$& off. Then Lorne wouldn't talk to Brad for hours.

"He was so enjoyable to be around, though. He had some great one-liners and he was always having fun. He had so many memories.

"Lorne was old school," said Prendergast. "He really beat up those computers we use now. And we finally got him to use a cellphone this year."

I remember talking to Davis a few years back when the Edmonton-born Melynk, the long-time Philadelphia Flyers scout, died.

"I don't know how many blizzards we drove through and somehow ended up in the hotel parking lot. He was my closest friend scouting," said Davis who played on a line with him with an Edmonton Flyers team which included the likes of Glenn Hall, Johnny Bucyk and Norm Ullman.

"Every day was an up day for Jerry. He was always so upbeat. It's hard to imagine that he's gone."

Today, hundreds of hockey scouts will be saying exact the same thing about Lorne Davis. With Melnyk gone and now Davis, it's officially the end of an era.


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