Finally, fame knocks

TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 7:52 AM ET

For an athlete, team or builder, making it into a sports Hall of Fame is supposed to be an unbelievably satisfying moment. Yesterday it didn't work that way.

Finally, the 1948 Edmonton Flyers made it into the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame.

"They waited too long for this," said Flyers' Doug Lane. "Only four of us are left now. Everybody else is dead. I think it's unanimous with those of us who are still alive, they left it too late.

"In those days, we were the best hockey team in Canada other than the Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs. For years we were pretty celebrated. But that was a long time ago. For a long time now, nobody even knew we existed."

If there'd been an Alberta Sports Hall of Fame back in 1949, the Flyers would have gone in then, just like Olympic gold medal winner Lori-Ann Muenzer will this year.

If there had been an Alberta Sports Hall of Fame in 1965, the 1962, '63 and '64, three-in-a-row Edmonton Huskies' Little Grey Cup title team would have had the doors of the Alberta Hall open to them immediately, like they were to Olympic gold-medal winner Kyle Shewfelt.

"We've lost a few, too," said Warren Hansen of Ron Forwick, Vic Justic and others. "We're glad it finally happened. I think most of us think it probably should have happened a long time ago. But at the same time, it's better late than never."

THAT'S HOW TO LOOK AT IT

Quarterback Tony Rankell said that's the way you have to look at it. Rankell, Hansen, Forwick, George Spanach, Ross Bradford, John Sterling, Ron Malicky and Clare Johnson were the only players to play for all three teams.

There's no knocking the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame for finally making things right. In fact, that seems to be what the 100th anniversary of the province induction ceremony will be about.

One of the inductees is Mervyn (Red) Dutton of Calgary. He played in the NHL and went on to be the president of the NHL. He won the Lester Patrick Trophy and received the Order of Canada. Born before the turn of the last century, he didn't live to see this day.

Dutton is going in with builders Alfred Fischer, Reg McClellan, Cor Ouwerkerk, Bill Page, Stan Schwartz and Ken McAuley. But it's the two teams and the two Olympic gold-medal winners who will be the focus of the induction ceremony May 27 in Red Deer.

The '48 Flyers won the Allan Cup back when it was the biggest thing in hockey other than the Stanley Cup. They were far bigger - and far better - than the Edmonton Mercurys team that went on to become a legend. winning the 1952 Olympic Games. Canada took another 50 years to win another one.

Funny how that worked. For years the Mercurys were the forgotten team and the Flyers the famed team of the era. It ended up the Flyers became the forgotten team.

THE VICTORY PARADE

When the Flyers beat the Ottawa Senators to win the Allan Cup, the victory parade was held with 60,000 people in the streets.

Mayor Harry Ainley named Gordie Watt honorary mayor. Watt named just-born son, Allan, for the trophy they'd just won. Allan grew up to be the same Allan Watt who is an Oilers executive.

Pug Young, the team tough guy, was named honorary chief of police at that time.

"I backed up Al Rollins in goal and the next year he won the Vezina Trophy in the NHL," said Jack Manson.

How good was that team?

Huskies trainer Monty Ford, who goes into the Alberta Hall with his second team, was the trainer of the Mercs.

"Oh yeah, the Flyers were better. They really were the best team in Canada outside of the NHL. They were tremendous."

It was sad, too, that McAuley - who some swear was the best all-round athlete Edmonton ever produced - would go in long after he was gone.

He was an NHL goalie who would be remembered more for one bad game than his great games. He gave up the most goals in a game in NHL history in a 15-0 loss by the New York Rangers to the Detroit Red Wings.

Billy Warwick, his brother-in-law and teammate, presented him with the goal light after the game.

"He'd have loved it," said wife Mildred.

Millie Warwick played in the professional women's baseball league, which was the inspiration for the movie League Of Their Own.

She's in Cooperstown, in the Baseball Hall of Fame, with that group. She's in Canada's Baseball Hall of Fame. She's in the Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame.

"Not Alberta," she said. "The only one I'm not in is Alberta."

Will she live to see the day?


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