Blades’ Burtney receives WHL Distinguished Service Award

Steve Hiscock/Saskatoon Blades


Saskatoon, Sask. – Western Hockey League Commissioner Ron Robison announced today, on behalf of the WHL Board of Governors, that Bernie Burtney, the off-ice officials supervisor for the Saskatoon Blades, has been named a recipient of the WHL Distinguished Service Award for the 2019-20 WHL season.

The WHL Distinguished Service Award, which was introduced by the WHL in 2004, is presented annually to individuals who have worked tirelessly behind the scenes on behalf of WHL franchises and in doing so have made an extraordinary contribution at the Club and League levels over an extended period. The WHL will present Distinguished Service Awards annually to an individual from both the WHL Western and Eastern Conferences.

Burtney was honoured by WHL Commissioner Ron Robison in Saskatoon during a special ceremony prior to Friday’s game between the Blades and Regina Pats.

“Off-ice officials play an integral role in the staging of WHL games and it is the leadership from individuals like Bernie Burtney that make it all happen,” commented WHL Commissioner Ron Robison. “All of us at the WHL would like to thank Bernie for the extraordinary contributions he has made to the Saskatoon Blades organization in his role as an off-ice official over the past 30 seasons.”

Dating back to the 1990s, Burtney has become a key figure in the team’s off-ice game operations for the past 30 seasons. Responsible for the scheduling, interviewing, hiring, and management of all off-ice officials at Blades home games, Burtney has conducted himself in a professional manner, going above and beyond the normal requirements for the voluntary role. His commitment to the role remains steadfast in his third decade, rarely missing a game as well as showing up to the rink well in advance to prepare.

“Bernie has always taken his role very seriously,” said Jerome Engele, Assistant Coach and builder for the Blades. “Over the years, he’s adapted to all the changes, done various different jobs, and always strives for perfection.

“He’s well respected by his peers and is dedicated to our organization. He’s very astute when it comes to stat tracking.”

Burtney has consistently provided a welcoming atmosphere for off-ice officials, making sure all are briefed and ready to perform their duties upon arrival. Even through undergoing knee surgery and suffering personal losses in his family, Burtney has made the role a priority.

Previous recipients of the WHL Distinguished Service Award:
Gerry Bergen (Prince Albert Raiders – Off-Ice Officials); Dr. Bob Smillie (Kamloops Blazers – Team Physician); Bob Bartlett (Lethbridge Hurricanes – Director, Player Development); Sue Johnson (Portland Winterhawks – Education Advisor); Herman Elfring (Lethbridge Hurricanes – Board Member); Norbert Heinzelmann (Kelowna Rockets – Off-Ice Officials); Bill Sanderson (Victoria Royals – Off-Ice Officials); Bob McGill (Edmonton Oil Kings – Scout); Ralph Zander (Calgary Hitmen – Off-Ice Official); Terry Bonner (Vancouver Giants – Scouting Director); Dr. Mary Smith (Spokane Chiefs – Team Dentist); Dennis Coates (Kamloops Blazers – Volunteer Board Member); Judy Seher (Red Deer Rebels – Billet Coordinator); Balzer, Frank, Tony & John Lanz (Medicine Hat Tigers – Off-Ice Officials); Rose Mary Hartney (Moose Jaw Warriors – Education Advisor); Greg ‘Spike’ Wallace (Kamloops Blazers – Community & Sponsorship Coordinator); Nella Rounsville (Kootenay ICE – Education Advisor); Lorne Frey (Kelowna Rockets – Asst GM/Head Scout); Graham Tuer (Saskatchewan Hockey Association – Volunteer); Jann Boss (Portland Winterhawks – Administration); Ruth “Grams” Pollock (Prince Albert Raiders – Billet Coordinator); Dr. Ian Hill (Regina Pats – Team Doctor); Dr. Alfred Blue (Seattle Thunderbirds – Team Doctor); Doris Rubel (Kamloops Blazers – Billet Coordinator); Colleen MacBean (Swift Current Broncos – Education Advisor); and Bob Ridley (Medicine Hat Tigers – Play-By-Play Announcer)

About the Western Hockey League
Regarded as the world’s finest development league for junior hockey players, the Western Hockey League (WHL) head office is based in Calgary, Alberta. The WHL consists of 22 member Clubs with 17 located in Western Canada and five in the U.S. Pacific Northwest. A member of the Canadian Hockey League, the WHL has been a leading supplier of talent for the National Hockey League for over 50 years. The WHL is also the leading provider of hockey scholarships with over 350 graduates each year receiving WHL Scholarships to pursue a post-secondary education of their choice. Each season, WHL players also form the nucleus of Canada’s National Junior Hockey Team.

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