A great tribute

JOHN SHORT

, Last Updated: 9:30 AM ET

At last, some high-level recognition for anonymous servants of a sport, not just the high-profile people.

The feat was accomplished on Thursday when a birthday party - one century in existence for Hockey Alberta - saluted 100 generous souls for lifelong contributions to Canada's favourite sport.

All in all, it was a majestic event.

The Oilers and Flames were recognized, as they deserved to be. So were the fabulous Sutters, who stand as yet another majestic team.

Coaches such as Clare Drake and Perry Pearn got their due, although Pearn, creator of that outstanding NAIT Ooks dynasty a couple of decades past, was kept away by his obligations as an assistant coach with the New York Rangers.

It was wise and just that Bob Olynyk would receive a tribute for his contribution to Midget hockey, LeRoy Johnson for his role in building the Viking Cup and Willie Littlechild for the endless work he did with aboriginal youth.

My hope is that Hockey Alberta does not wait another 100 years to do it again.

Clarence Campbell, a long-ago Edmontonian who went from a referee's whistle to prosecuting war criminals to serving as NHL president, was recognized in a program.

Others, who have built in different ways, are not yet recognized.

Hockey Hall of Fame goaltender Glenn Hall, for one, deserves to be welcomed within this province's select group. His contributions to youngsters and to the Stony Plain Eagles must not be overlooked.

Hockey Alberta was wise not to lessen this honour by making it too easy to get in, but a party every five or 10 years in honour of those who keep building would not be out of line.

GREAT GADSBY

Old friend Bill Gadsby is still getting around in his home near Detroit, but a series of hip operations have made it difficult for him to move as fast as he once did.

Now 81, Gadsby invested 20 years of his life as a top-level defenceman with Detroit, Chicago and the Rangers. Recently, he wrote a book: The Grateful Gadsby.

If his ability to tell stories in print comes close to his ability to spin verbal yarns, it must be a special read. One sad note: trouble with his throat has made it impossible for Bill to make speeches - not that he cared much about the limelight anyway.

Gadsby and Gordie Howe remain close friends.

Considering the talents and decency of these fine guys, great athletes and former teammates, how could it be any other way?

The real Oilers?

I'm learning again that it's difficult to type with your fingers crossed.

It's also difficult to change your mind in public.

Several days ago, it popped into my mind that the Edmonton Oilers were likely to shock most observers in this land by making the playoffs this season.

Then they played that absolute stinker against the Colorado Avalanche and followed by whipping Anaheim in Edmonton's best performance of the season.

To me, the real group showed up Friday night with great goaltending, intelligent defensive play and hard, hard work.

For Kevin Lowe, Craig MacTavish, Kevin Prendergast and the rest, it's still a major building job, but I think they're ahead of schedule.

PAGING MURRAY GREIG

Co-promoter Gerry Gilroy is excited about Friday's boxing show. He has reason to be.

Jelena Mrdjenovich and Kris Andrews are involved in title bouts and cruiserweight champ Ryan Henney will be on display, too.

But Gilroy, a former amateur scrapper of some note, won't be there. He's headed to Las Vegas for the Mayweather-Hatton scrap one night later. He thinks Hatton has a chance. I don't.

We both wonder what Murray Greig thinks.


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