A trio of Western Hockey League Alumni will be enshrined in the Ted Knight Saskatchewan Hockey Hall of Fame as part of their Class of 2020.
The class, which was revealed Saturday in Yorkton, Sask. will see Tri-City Americans head coach Kelly Buchberger, former Prince Albert Raiders captain Nick Schultz, and former Moose Jaw Warriors head coach Gerry James honoured on Friday, July 24.
Born in Langenburg, Sask., Buchberger would play two years for the Warriors, accumulating 65 points (26G-39A) in 123 WHL regular season games. He’d also impress in the WHL playoffs, posting 15 points (11G-4A) in 13 games.
Following his rookie season in 1985, Buchberger was chosen in the ninth round, 188th overall, by the Edmonton Oilers at the 1985 NHL Draft. Buchberger would go on to play a key role in the Oilers’ dynasty of the late 1980s, winning Stanley Cups in 1987 and 1990.
Sticking with the Oilers through the 1998-99 NHL Regular Season, he’d serve as team captain from 1995 to 1999.
Claimed by the expansion Atlanta Thrashers in 1999, Buchberger would be named the inaugural captain in franchise history. Buchberger would also play with the Los Angeles Kings, Arizona Coyotes, and Pittsburgh Penguins before concluding his professional hockey career in 2004.
Overall, Buchberger appeared in 1,182 NHL regular season games, posting 309 points (105G-204A). He also recorded 25 points (10G-14A) in 97 NHL playoff games. Internationally, he won gold with Canada at the 1994 IIHF World Championship and earned a silver medal in 1996.
After the conclusion of his playing career, Buchberger stepped behind the bench, serving as an assistant coach of the American Hockey League’s Edmonton Road Runners and as head coach of the Springfield Falcons before joining the Oilers as an assistant coach in 2008. After serving on the bench with the New York Islanders as well, Buchberger returned to the WHL in 2018 when he was named head coach of the Americans.
Also recognized as an inductee is Schultz, a former captain of the Raiders. Chosen in the third round, 43rd overall, of the 1997 WHL Bantam Draft, the product of Strasbourg, Sask. made an instant impact with the Raiders, posting 23 points (5G-18A) from the blue line as a rookie in the 1998-99 WHL Regular Season before adding seven assists in 14 games during the 1998 WHL Playoffs.
Following his second season in the WHL, Schultz heard his named called by the Minnesota Wild in the second round, 33rd overall, of the 2000 NHL Draft. Returning to the Raiders for one more season, Schultz served as captain and would conclude his WHL career with 114 points (33G-81A) in 189 WHL regular season games. He also added 10 assists in 20 WHL playoff games.
Schultz caught on immediately with the Wild, playing with them from 2001 to 2012 and serving as captain during the 2007-08 NHL Regular Season. Dealt to the Oilers in 2012, Schultz would also spend time with the Columbus Blue Jackets before joining the Philadelphia Flyers. There he’d spend the final three years of his NHL career.
Upon his retirement, Schultz had appeared in 1,069 NHL regular season games, posting 175 points (30G-145A). He also appeared in 32 NHL playoff games, posting two assists.
Internationally, Schultz represented Canada well, earning bronze at the 2001 IIHF World Junior Championship and silver at the 2002 IIHF World Junior Championship. He won gold medals with Canada at the 2004 and 2007 IIHF World Championships.
Rounding out the trio of inductees is former Warriors coach Gerald “Gerry” James, who coached the Warriors for two seasons in the late 1980s.
Each year the SHHOF celebrates the contributions and achievements of players, builders, teams, officials and those at the grassroots level. The annual induction dinner is rotated around the province in partnership with the Saskatchewan Hockey Association to promote the Hall, celebrate local inductees while raising funds which benefit the local host community.
Tickets for this year’s event will be available through the Yorkton Terriers box office. An announcement will be made in the coming weeks when tickets go on sale.