An excerpt from the book - Archie Henderson
Archie Henderson, Right Wing, 1974-1975
Archie Henderson played only one season and part of another with the Broncos. His energetic and tough style of play combined with his six-foot-six frame left an impression on fans during the Broncos’ inaugural season in the city. Traded by the Broncos in November 1975 to the Victoria Cougars for Rick Peter, he remained involved in hockey until July 2022, when he retired as the Director of Professional Scouting for the Edmonton Oilers.
Archie, born and raised in Calgary, began playing minor hockey at the age of seven in the Montgomery section of the city. “You practised on Saturday and played a game on Sunday on the outdoor rinks,” said Archie. “We played the same team each week.” After school Archie played on a small outdoor rink near his home.
At the age of 12 Archie tried out for the Bantam AA team in his region. Hoping to get extra ice time he had no expectation of making the team as an underage. Hank Bassen, a former NHL goaltender, coached the team and wanted Archie on the team despite his age. Archie played two seasons of Bantam AA before moving onto Midget AA, again as an underage at 14.
In the fall of 1972 he attended the Calgary Canucks training camp hoping to make the team as a 15-year-old. After beginning the season with the Canucks he was sent back to play midget hockey for the remainder of the season. The following year he made the Canucks but was disappointed with his lack of playing time during the first 20 games of the season. Concerned his lack of ice time was hindering his development, he joined the Juvenile Triline Stampeders. Triline played against local Junior B and intermediate men’s league teams in the city and surrounding communities. He continued to practise with the Canucks hopeful of rejoining the team the following season.
When the 1973-74 Triline Stampeders won the league championship, suddenly hockey scouts began to notice a six-foot-six forward on the ice. “I was always a top scorer and captain of the teams I played on.” Not only were the Swift Current Broncos interested but Dartmouth College, an Ivy League school, also wanted him.
“My parents felt it was too far away and I agreed,” said Archie. “We initially thought the school was in Dartmouth, N.S., before learning it was in Hanover, NH.
“At this time in my life I had no plans of making hockey a career. I graduated with honours from Bowness Composite High School when I was 16 and planned to attend the University of Calgary and become a civil engineer,” recalled Archie.
“I loved sports growing up. I sold popcorn at Stampeder games, cheered for the New York Yankees and loved hockey but had no intention of pursuing it as a career.”
In the fall of 1974 Archie decided to head south in his 1965 Chevy Impala to try out for the Lethbridge Broncos. Never having been to Lethbridge, he recalled his dad providing him with directions. Without any expectations of making the team he knew he needed to leave an impression if he had any hope of being part of the Broncos.
Prior to arriving at training camp, Archie had only one fight during his minor hockey career. While playing juvenile, he fought the toughest guy in the league who instigated the fight and soundly defeated him.
Getting settled at the Marquis Hotel and heading off to Henderson Arena for tryouts, Archie knew if he wanted to make the team he had to be physical. Four fights in the first three days of training camp left an impression on Earl Ingarfield, coach of the Broncos.
While his physical prowess impressed Ingarfield it was Bryan Trottier who impressed Archie. He recalled Trottier arriving at camp driving a new Chrysler New Yorker. When he pulled up to the Marquis Hotel players were hanging out the windows watching him arrive. Archie recalled some of the players teasing him about the car which bothered Trottier, given his humble nature.
When training camp ended Archie was still part of the Broncos. “Throughout the first half of the season I never felt I was a lock on the team.”
Playing primarily with Steve Lee and Bill Jobson there were many games where they’d only have three or four shifts a game.
“I knew I needed to go as hard as I could each shift I played. I was physical which often led to something happening,” recalled Archie. “It was a 19-year-old league filled with tough guys.”
Archie recalled his first fight against a local Lethbridge product Bryan Maxwell in a game with the Medicine Hat Tigers. Maxwell had slammed a teammate into the boards and Archie rushed to his rescue. “I hit him with a few good punches and cut him up pretty good,” recalled Archie, who described Maxwell as “one tough guy.”
On Nov. 17, 1975 Archie scored his first WCHL goal with an assist from Trottier against New Westminster in an 11-6 drubbing of the Bruins, who won the WCHL title that season.
Two nights later in Regina the Broncos faced the Pats. The previous week the Bruins had manhandled the Pats in Regina upsetting coach Bob Turner. He approached the Regina Rams football team and asked if any players were interested in joining the Pats specifically to add toughness. Bob Poley, a future CFL all-star, jumped at the opportunity. At six-foot-four and 240 pounds, he was an imposing presence. Big and tough, he struggled skating.
Midway through the second period of a 9-3 loss to the Pats, Archie and Poley were on the ice together. When Poley took a run at Jobson, Archie responded with several punches that stunned Poley, who had never fought before. They both fell to the ice ending the fight.
Following their jaunt east, a West Coast trip awaited against Victoria, New Westminster and Kamloops. These teams had some very tough players including Kim Clackson on Victoria and Barry Beck on New Westminster.
The Broncos lost 5-3 to Kamloops and then headed to the Island to play Victoria, coached by Patty Ginnell. The Broncos were hammered 13-1. Archie had two fights in the game with Rick LaPointe and Eric Sanderson. After the game the Broncos, exhausted both mentally and physically, listened to Ingarfield go around the room making comments about some of the players. When he arrived at Archie he stated “Archie can play for any team I coach.” Archie beat up, his eyes swollen and his hands hurting, stated, “I might not want to,” which broke the team up and lightened the mood.
The following night they arrived in New Westminster. As the bus approached the rink it was quiet. Having played the Bruins once at home where they beat them badly they now faced them at the Queen’s Park Arena. Archie remembered Trottier and Ron Delorme meeting with him and warning him to “be careful.”
During the pre-game skate he remembered several of the Bruins threatening him and his teammates. “They came out for the pre-game skate with their black uniforms and helmets on, intimidating us during the warmups. Only one fight erupted but a tired Bronco squad was hammered 10-5. The smallest Bronco, Jerry Bancks, scored three goals for the Broncos.
As the season progressed Archie’s popularity with the fans grew. His hard-working, aggressive style of play appealed to them. Archie continued working hard at practice on his skating but his ice time was limited.
“Every team had a tough guy you knew you’d face. Kim Clackson, Mal Zinger, Barry Beck, Gary Rissling, Paul Mulvey, Ted Olsen, Maxwell, Jerry Rollins, were all prepared to drop the gloves and were tough.”
“Barry Beck at 17 was built like a man. I faced him for three seasons,” remembered Archie.
After making his mark in the league, winning the most popular player award on the team and leading the Broncos in penalty minutes with 177, Archie was excited about his prospects the following season. “I wanted a bigger role and more ice time.”
The Broncos lost Trottier but Steve Tambellini, a promising rookie, arrived in camp. Having been at the Broncos camp the previous season, he left when his dad insisted he return to Trail where he’d get more ice time. Also joining the team was Willie Desjardins, a close friend of Trottier’s. Both had exceptional seasons.
Archie began the season playing more but when his production lagged, his ice time was reduced, which disappointed him. The Broncos with Brian Sutter, rookie John Scammell, a small but tough defenceman, and local product Joe Meli, they felt they had sufficient toughness on the team. Also returning to the Broncos from the WHA was Delorme.
On Sunday, Nov. 30, 1975, Archie was traded to the Victoria Cougars for defenceman Rick Peter. “I was informed of the trade following a 7-3 loss to the Saskatoon Blades. I was very emotional. I loved Lethbridge and had no desire to leave. My parents were at the game and it was tough on all of us.”
Archie headed home to Calgary and then flew to Victoria where he played that night in a 6-1 victory over the Calgary Centennials. Archie picked up two points with a goal and assist playing with Dennis Fenske and Greg Anderson, the smallest players on the team. Ginnell immediately made him an assistant captain and Archie began to see lots of ice time.
The biggest rival for the Cougars was Ernie “Punch” McLean and the New Westminster Bruins. Archie now faced Beck eight times a season. Beck put up 99 points and 325 minutes in penalties during the 1975-76 season and engaged Archie in several fights.
A former teammate in Lethbridge was part of the Cougars. Don Johnson, a big six-foot-three defenceman, was an overage on the team. Archie recalled a funny incident where Johnson wheeled behind the Cougars net, bumped into the post, lost his balance and the puck in front of his net. The opposing forward blasted the puck past Murray Bannerman for a goal. Returning to the bench he looked at everyone and remarked “Jesus Christ, did anyone see who hit me?” Archie remembered Ginnell and his teammates laughing hard at Johnson’s comment.
During a game late in his first season with the Cougars, Archie was involved in an altercation during a game with the Kamloops Chiefs that resulted in a suspension that carried over to the following season. He was unable to play until November. It was Archie’s draft season and missing the first quarter of the season was very disappointing. “I played in the exhibition season and led the team in scoring,” stated Archie. Unable to play, he assisted Ginnell behind the bench.
On Dec 20, 1976 in a game against Kamloops Archie had a goal and an assist before being tripped into the boards where he shattered his knee cap. In a cast from his groin to his ankle, his season was not going as he planned.
In early January, the Cougars were beaten in New Westminster and Geordie Robertson, a young 17-year-old rookie, was beaten up badly. The Cougars were playing the Bruins the following night. Archie arrived at the game at 4 p.m., had the trainer cut off his cast, and dressed for the game. “I played the first shift of the game and beat the shit out of Barry Beck.” After serving his fighting major he remained on the bench to make sure everything was calm. Immediately after the game he went to the hospital and had his cast put back on.
Despite the suspension and injuries, Archie had his best offensive season in the WCHL scoring 14 goals in 47 games during the 1976-77 season. His size and toughness attracted the Washington Capitals who drafted him in the 10th round.
Arriving for training camp in the fall of 1977 with Washington, he was playing for an NHL contract for a team in its fourth NHL season. The Capitals had won only eight, 11 and 24 games respectively the previous three seasons.
Archie was sent to Port Huron in the IHL where he joined his former Bronco teammate Rollie Boutin. Archie scored 16 goals and led his team with 419 minutes in penalties, third in the league.
During this season he was involved in an altercation with Willie Trognitz of the Dayton Owls. During a line brawl, Archie was fighting Trognitz, who escaped from the fight and headed to his bench. Archie still upset, headed after him to continue the altercation when he was hit over the head by Trognitz’s stick. Archie suffered a broken nose and a concussion from the incident. Trognitz was banned for life from the IHL for his actions. Several weeks later the Cincinnati Stingers of the WHA signed Trognitz to a contract. The incident was highlighted in the Nov. 28, 1977 edition of Sports Illustrated.
Unable to crack Washington’s lineup the following season he moved up to the AHL joining the Hershey Bears where he scored 17 goals and set a franchise record for penalty minutes with 337, again leading his team and finishing second in the league.
Joining him on the Hershey Bears was former Bronco teammate Alex Tidey, who scored 31 goals leading the team in that department. Boutin also moved up with Archie to Hershey and was the number-one goalie.
As the season ended he and linemate Gary Rissling were on pace to break the franchise record for penalty minutes. Both were excited about the prospect of setting the record. The Bears last game was against the New Haven Nighthawks. Early in the game Rissling was in a fight and received a major and game misconduct. Confident the record was his, he watched Archie in the last minute of the game jump Frank Beaton. Archie received a minor, major and misconduct. When Archie did the math he was confident he alone had established a new team record. Rissling, watching the game, was upset over the events and when Archie headed to the dressing room smiling over his achievement, they exchanged blows. After things cooled off, all was well between the two teammates. Records in Hockey DB indicate despite what they thought, they both tied the record with 337 minutes.
Archie’s third season of professional hockey began in Hershey but new coach Gary Green was not a fan of Archie’s play and he was loaned to the Fort Worth Texans, a farm team of the Colorado Rockies. Unbeknownst to Archie, an old adversary was waiting to play on his line. Trognitz, after his stint in the WHA, arrived in Fort Worth and, after some discussion between the two, they were able to coexist on the Texans.
The following season Archie returned to the Hershey Bears. While at a team Christmas party, Roger Crozier called informing him the Washington Capitals wanted him to report the following day to play in Philadelphia. Archie, thinking it was a teammate playing a joke, hung the phone up. Crozier called again and suddenly Archie was about to make his NHL debut on Dec. 21, 1980. The Flyers were one of the toughest teams in the NHL and the night before in Washington hammered the Capitals, 5-2. Upset with the outcome, Gary Green, not a fan of Archie, felt they needed to add toughness.
When Archie arrived at the Spectrum, the only jersey that fit him was No. 31, the backup goalie’s number. Wearing No. 31, Archie made his NHL debut.
When the game began, he left the bench 19 seconds into the first period to join a line brawl. He and Tim Kerr received two-minute minors for leaving the bench. At the 4:03 mark of the first period he fought Behn Wilson. When they left the penalty box after serving their penalties they re-engaged in another fight. Archie picked up 22 minutes of penalties in his first NHL appearance. The Capitals won the game 6-0, their first victory in franchise history over the Flyers.
Archie played the next seven games for the Capitals and scored his first NHL goal against the Flyers on Jan. 4. He and linemate Wes Jarvis were on a two-on-one, Jarvis passed it to him and he put the puck in the net. Immediately after the game he was sent back to Hershey. As Archie explained, “I wasn’t sent up to score.”
The following season he signed with Minnesota and was sent to play for the Nashville South Stars in the CHL. Archie scored 12 goals and led the league in penalty minutes with 320. He appeared in one game for Minnesota.
As the 1982 season began, he signed with the Hartford Whalers and made the team out of training camp, playing the first 15 games of the season. On Nov. 17 Archie scored his last goal in the NHL against his former team, the Washington Capitals. With the Whalers struggling he was sent Binghamton where he remained for the rest of the season.
After completing the 1986-87 season with the Maine Mariners of the AHL, Archie made the decision to retire from the game. Now 30 years of age, it was time to move onto the next stage of his life.
Returning to Calgary, he planned to purchase two Tim Hortons franchises. John Barber, an ex-professional hockey player and the brother of former Flyer Bill Barber, was in charge of franchising in Western Canada and Archie was prepared to pay $80,000 for each franchise.
A call from Bob Pulford changed his plans and pulled him back into hockey. Archie played his last season with the Saginaw Hawks, the IHL affiliate for Chicago.
Archie had expressed interest in coaching and when offered the job with the Indianapolis Ice, he accepted, beginning a four-year run of coaching.
The Ice were an independent franchise when Archie coached. The following season they affiliated with Chicago and a former Bronco Darryl Sutter coached the team.
With Indianapolis affiliating with Chicago, Archie was out of work and looking for another coaching job. The Nashville Knights, an expansion ECHL franchise, offered him the coaching position. The ECHL was in its second year of existence. Nashville became a hockey hotbed drawing upwards of 9,000 fans on a regular basis. The league advertised in the Hockey News as “Slap Shot is back” and with coaches that included John Brophy, Steve Carlson, from the movie “Slap Shot,” as well as several other legendary tough guys running the benches, the advertisement was not far off. The Knights made the playoffs before losing in the first round. They finished second in the league in attendance.
Archie then returned to the WHL when he was hired by the Victoria Cougars. The Cougars struggling when Archie took the reins, were in the process of a rebuild. Their struggles continued with Archie, who coached them during their last two seasons in Victoria.
After two seasons in the WHL, Archie headed to Edinburgh Scotland where he coached in the British League for one season. Being of Scottish descent, he felt spending time in Scotland would be an interesting change for him and his family.
When Archie returned from Scotland he began a 27-year career as a professional scout for the Washington Capitals, Detroit Red Wings and Edmonton Oilers where he was the Director of Professional Scouting before announcing his retirement during the summer of 2022.
Archie’s younger brother, Don Henderson, played parts of four seasons in the WHL during the 1980s. Following his playing career Don became an NHL linesman officiating over 1,300 games before his career ended when Dennis Wideman of the Calgary Flames knocked him into the boards in 2016, causing a serious concussion.
Archie was part of an era of hockey when fighting and intimidation was a big part of the game. He was considered by many to be one of the all-time toughest fighters in professional hockey.
“I’ve had both hips replaced but my biggest issue is arthritis in my hands,” Archie stated. He also worries about the long-term impact fighting may have on his cognitive abilities as he ages.
“I have no regrets about my time in hockey. I’m proud to have played in the WCHL, the many years of minor professional hockey and I’m especially proud of playing in the NHL.”
Archie’s journey in hockey began in 1974 with the Lethbridge Broncos. During his time with the Broncos, no one was more popular with the fans than No. 22, Archie Henderson.
February 23, 2023 My interview with Mark Campbell which recently appeared in his Blog.
1. I guess the first big obvious question is why did you write a history about the Lethbridge Broncos and why now?
The Lethbridge Broncos arrived in Lethbridge in the fall of 1974. At the time I was a 17-year-old high school student working as a gas jockey at Robo Car Wash in Lethbridge, owned by Earl Ingarfield and Dennis Kjeldgaard, owners of the Broncos. It was there that I became acquainted with players as they purchased gas. Chatting with them about the games only increased my interest in the Broncos.
Reflecting back, I was intrigued by their history. At the time the Broncos left Lethbridge in 1986, they were considered one of the top junior hockey franchises in Canada in terms of producing NHL players, with 40 players making an appearance in the “show”. Fifteen percent of players that wore a Bronco uniform played in the NHL. Bryan Trottier made an immediate impact with the fans in Lethbridge and he followed up with a Hall of Fame career in the NHL. In addition, the greatest hockey family of all time – the Sutter’s – played in Lethbridge from 1974 to 1983. Brian, Darryl, Duane, Brent, Ron and Rich left their mark in our community and as fans, we were proud of their achievements.
Fast forward forty-seven years to the fall of 2021. With time to spare and reminiscing about my younger days, I began to look through old newspaper articles on the Broncos. Their accomplishments jumped out at me and I decided I to put together a comprehensive history of the team. This did not start out with the intent for it to be a published book, but I soon realized the topic had potential to be of interest to others.
It was a labor of love and I hope many of the fans of the Broncos during the 1970’s and 1980’s enjoy the memories of a team that brought so much excitement for hockey fans during their time in Lethbridge.
2. Do you have any background on writing books or doing research?
I’ve never written a book so it was a challenge to putting it together. Fortunately, Gordon Hunter, a former university professor who has written several books, provided me with guidance and support to begin the journey.
My love of the game and my strong interest in the Broncos made the experience enjoyable. I began my research in the fall of 2021, reading articles dated from March 1974 to April 1986 in the Lethbridge Herald on Newspaper Archive.
During this time, the Lethbridge Herald did a tremendous job covering the Broncos. Beyond game summaries, articles on players and their stories covered the sports section. Pat Sullivan and others wrote columns on the team, highlighting their successes and challenges. This research brought back many memories and was enjoyable. I’ve always been a history buff so this experience reinforced my desire to look back at the Broncos’ time in Lethbridge.
3. How important was Randy Jensen, your editor, for this project?
Randy was invaluable. His expertise in terms of writing and his knowledge of the Broncos helped guide me through the process. Randy was a fan of the Broncos before he was assigned to cover the team for the Lethbridge Herald in 1981. He covered them until they left in April 1986. Randy and I attended high school together and had known each other for many years. When I approached him to assist me, he was eager to jump on board and edit the manuscript for me. In addition, he participated in and wrote up interviews with John Chapman and Rob Fritz, both of whom he was close to from his days of covering the Broncos. Randy and I were both acquainted with Dennis Kjeldgaard and we spent and afternoon together reliving his memories of a team that brought Dennis both joy and heartache.
There were additional individuals who assisted me by reading the draft and providing feedback. I am grateful to the following:
- Cliff Lobe, an English Professor at the University of Lethbridge,
- Rick Maclean, a friend, and
- Gregg Drinnan, who reported on the WHL from its earliest days and continues to write a blog that covers the WHL.
4. Did you have a preconceived notion as to how this book was going to be portrayed or did it evolve as it went along?
The book evolved a great deal as I worked on it. I initially planned to focus on the 1974-1975 Bronco team that arrived in Lethbridge, led by Bryan Trottier. I explored that season in great detail and my original intent was to leave it at that. When I reflected on what I’d done, I acknowledged a much larger story remained about the team. I made the decision to cover the entire twelve seasons the Broncos were in Lethbridge. I recognized I couldn’t cover the remaining eleven seasons the way I did the first season, so I proceeded to summarize each season in a more condensed manner.
When this was completed I knew I needed to include the personal reflections of those who played and were involved with the Broncos during their time in Lethbridge. The challenge before me was how to do this. Where do I begin? Fortunately, I play hockey with John Lutz, who was a member of the 1974-1975 Bronco squad. He agreed to an interview and my journey began. Another teammate, Doug James, was discussing John Chapman one day in the dressing room and I discovered they are neighbours. He provided me with John’s contact information and suddenly things began to progress. His interview led to so many others. He provided me with contact numbers for the Sutters as well as Randy Moller.
My son Matthew coached with Dave Barr in 2021 at the U18 World Championships and shared his contact. Matthew knew former Bronco goalie Lorne Molleken, who he coached with at Prairie Hockey Academy in Caronport, SK, so I had another key contact. Suddenly I had a collection of former Broncos who were eager to talk and were more than willing to share additional contacts with me. I could have interviewed so many more but constraints on the length of the book stood in my way.
The last piece of the book covers biographies of each and every player who made an appearance for the Broncos. Feeling the need and desire to recognize all players that appeared with the Broncos, I began researching their stories. I enjoyed this immensely. I only wish I could have had more information about each and every one of them and had the ability to contact the many who made appearances with the Broncos.
Knowing how important pictures are in capturing memories, the Galt Museum allowed me to use their archives to help illustrate the history of the team.
Suddenly the book’s structure was in place and the hard work of editing began.
5. Did you actually interview the past players and how cooperative were they?
I was able to interview fifteen former players as well as others including an owner, coach, and athletic therapist. Gord Tait, James Sinclair and Randy Jensen wrote their own stories that were included.
Everyone I interviewed cooperated fully and seemed to enjoy telling their story. They all responded quickly to my request. Many of the interviews lasted over two hours. It was a pleasure to listen to them reminisce about their time playing minor hockey and their time with the Broncos.
Players arrived in Lethbridge young, away from home, many for the first time, with a dream of playing in the NHL. Of the eighteen included in the book, ten played in the NHL. For those that didn’t make the “show”, the game remains important to them and over the years they contributed to minor hockey by coaching and supporting others playing the game.
Eight former Broncos coached in the NHL and three others became general managers. Quite an accomplishment for a team that lasted only twelve seasons in Lethbridge.
6. Were there some you didn’t talk to that you would have liked to?
I would have loved to talk with everyone that played for the Broncos. Constraints on the size of the book impacted my ability to interview more players. I had the opportunity to talk with many and added additional information to their biographies.
I reached out to the Sutters and was thrilled when Brent and Ron responded and shared their stories. Darryl Sutter and his journey in hockey would have been a great read. Randy Jensen spoke highly of Steve Tambellini, but I was never able to get his contact information.
I was pleased with the ones I had. I had a great cross section of players spanning the twelve seasons in Lethbridge. This was important to me.
7. What were some of the things you discovered about the Broncos that surprised you?
Their willingness to share their stories was inspiring. They were able to remember so many of their experiences. They also related the positive impact and importance billets were in their career. Away from home, facing intense pressure to produce, billets served as powerful supports to the players and helped them mature away from their family.
8. Do I have a personal favorite player?
When the Broncos arrived in Lethbridge, I was immediately attracted to Bryan Trottier and then Archie Henderson, who so many of the fans loved. Over time, the Sutter family impressed me with their hard work and willingness to give everything they had to the team. Ron Sutter, in the playoffs in 1983, willed a team to victory. As you watched him, his determination and skill was not going to allow the Broncos to lose. A remarkable display of leadership.
Steve Tambellini was also a favorite. A skilled, smooth skating centre, he played during a time when many of his opponents played an aggressive brand of hockey intent to hurt you. He played a very sportsmanlike style and was a pleasure to watch.
Rocky Saganiuk was a favorite to watch. Full of energy, skill and showmanship he left a mark on Bronco fans. Arriving as a 19-year-old rookie, his perseverance impressed me.
9. Do you have a personal favorite story?
John Chapman shared many great stories of his time in hockey. His description of his feelings regarding Mike Vernon refusing to play for the Broncos, instead choosing Portland, and Chapman being summoned by the President of the WHL prior to their game with Portland during the Memorial Cup, left me in stitches.
Lindy Ruff shared his first NHL goal with me and his description of going up the ice, around the defence and then firing the puck under the cross bar left me impressed, only to hear him say it was all “bullshit”. It was an empty netter.
John Lutz, Bryan Trottier and Lorne Molleken sharing their experiences with “Tiger” Williams were among my favorites.
Randy Moller loved to tell stories and shared several of his experiences with Chapman. The bag skates and other “Chappy” stories were entertaining.
Each Bronco I talked with left me yearning for more. It was an incredibly enjoyable experience talking with each and everyone of them.
10. Can you rank Bronco players from 1 to 5 in terms of their importance to the city?
The legacy of the six Sutters and their time in Lethbridge stands out. Each of them played in the NHL and had outstanding playing careers. Four (Brian, Duane, Brent, and Darryl) coached in the NHL. Seeing them begin their journey and watching them play with such intensity and fearlessness was a tremendous experience for all the fans who attended Bronco games from 1974-1983.
Ron Sutter leading the Broncos to the 1982-1983 WHL championship stands out. His 22 goals during that playoff run remain the second highest total in WHL playoff history.
Bryan Trottier, in his only season in Lethbridge, was incredible to watch. His skill, toughness and humility left a mark on fans. The following season when he won the Calder Trophy, highlighted the type of players the WHL produced.
I remember watching Doug Morrison arrive in Lethbridge in the fall of 1976. I was amazed with his skills at the age of only sixteen. He became the all-time leading scorer on the Broncos and several players I interviewed described him as the best junior hockey player they’d had the pleasure of playing with. His son, Brad, joined the Lethbridge Hurricanes in the spring of 2018 and led them to a long playoff run. His 37 points in 16 playoff games reminded me of his father and the skill he brought to the Broncos during the late 1970’s.
Ken Wregget was the finest goaltender to ever play for the Broncos. During his time in Lethbridge he won the WHL goaltender of the year and led the Broncos to a WHL championship.
11. Aside from the historic perspective of the Broncos, is there anything else you would like readers to glom from this?
My intent was simply to relive a time in Lethbridge when major junior hockey arrived and with it, the opportunity to watch some of the finest hockey players in the world take the ice at the Sportsplex. I hope fans enjoy reminiscing about the twelve years the Broncos skated in Lethbridge.
All of the proceeds from the book are being donated to HEROS (Hockey Education Reaching Out Society), founded by Norm Flynn, a former Bronco in 2000. HEROS has grown across Canada as well as internationally, providing support and mentorship to thousands of disadvantaged youth, using hockey as a means of connecting. Youth across the country have received scholarships and support from the program, allowing them the opportunity to pursue education and a better life.
12. We lost a WHL team when the Broncos left but then gained the Hurricanes. From a community perspective in a western Canadian hockey city, how important is it to have a high-level junior hockey franchise?
From a community perspective, having a junior hockey team is important. In addition to the economic benefits the team brings to the community, it also brings a sense of pride when the team is successful and players move on to the NHL.
Hockey is an important staple of Canadian life. It provides youth the opportunity to engage in a game that is so much fun when delivered properly. For those who participate, it can become a life-long activity.
For those who don’t play, watching and being entertained by your favorite team brings excitement. Junior hockey is a time where players begin their journey towards a career in the game. Players are young, skilled and desperate for an opportunity to make their mark. The NHL has become an expensive attraction many can’t afford. For those who love the game, there is nothing better than going to a WHL game, one that is affordable and exciting.
Over the forty-seven years the WHL has been in Lethbridge, fans have had the opportunity to watch so many future NHLer’s appear. I encourage all hockey fans to take the opportunity to attend a game to cheer on these young players as they begin their journey, not only in hockey, but in life.
13. Where can you get the book?
Analog Books in Lethbridge sells the book. It can be ordered online through Analog and mailed to out-of-town addresses. The Lethbridge Hurricanes, Galt Museum, and Greens also sell the book.
14. Final Thoughts
My one and only book! I’m proud to have put the Bronco history together and I hope hockey fans enjoy it.