Reflections: Creation of Hockey Canada
Transcripts of interviews with Douglas
Lloyd Percival was a brilliant man. For hockey, he and father Bauer were the real seeds and germinators of the determination to get governments working on it. That included municipal – where it comes naturally – provincial – where it is a constitutional responsibility – and financially with the federal government. Lloyd was a wonderful mind and it was his hockey book that Tarasov took and made his bible. It really was a brilliant paper, but the pros just laughed at it. Hap Day, who was the coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs and not a bad man, heaped scorn on it. He would say, “Percival was a crummy hockey player.” In fact, Lloyd wasn’t bad and his brother Allan was a brilliant hockey player. But Lloyd was a marvelous athlete in other sports and his best game was cricket. He was a great fielder, great bowler and also a good baseball player.
Respected historian Sydney Wise and I wrote a federal government report on amateur sports in Canada in 1974 and a big section of the report was about hockey and the creation of a new organization: Hockey Canada. That name is itself something we later got into a great deal of trouble with. But it went well at the start. One recommendation of the report was to finance and manage a national team with it being understood that one of the aims was to have it so that in international hockey it didn’t matter whether a player was called a pro or not. In other words, that it should be more like soccer – with its World Cup.
So, we had the big hockey plans and hockey thinker Father Bauer’s concept was going to be part of it. He had a team working at a training place in Winnipeg. It was a European-sized rink. Max Bell had put up the money for. He was the wealthiest guy in Canada at that time. He was the first head of Hockey Canada before Charles Hay took over. Bell took sick with cancer and died about a year into it.
Health Minister Munro and his deputy wanted both me and Sydney Wise to take positions on Hockey Canada and the federal sports council that was also going to be created. Sydney said he couldn’t do it because he had too many irons in the fire. When they held the so-called World Hockey Championships in the spring of 1969 in Sweden, Sport Minister Munro insisted that Sydney Wise and I go over there for a week and see how things look. That’s where we first met Ken Dryden because he was playing with that team. He and Wise got into long conversations. Sydney told me afterward, “He’s smart for a hockey player.” And he was.
I decided to take the post as a director of Hockey Canada, representing the federal government on the committee. That was fine with the other people on the board. Then, I set to work with Jackson and Lefebvre to get the Coaching Association going. We had a terrible time with Percival because it had been his dream. He had everything lined up ahead of time. He envisaged a Cadillac outfit, costing tens of millions. We just weren’t going to get that much money quickly. But we did get the Coaching Association going. And Jackson and I got the Sports Information Research Centre up and running, although we had some trouble with it later on when we got Marc Lalonde as minister. He said the Coaching Association could either be folded into the department of Health and Welfare’s library – which would’ve killed it – or to establish it in Montreal!
I believe the Coaching Association’ first organizational meeting was in 1970. After the World Championships showing in 1969, we began to realize that the Bauer team concept wasn’t going to make it. He was a very inspirational man for a lot of people. But he was one of the most incompetent managers imaginable. He had about fifty guys signed on to some kind of contract. But every one was different.
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