Four men with ties to the WHL are being recognized for their contributions to hockey in the province of Saskatchewan.
Bob Bourne, Edward ‘Eddie’ Litzenberger, Graham Tuer and Ken Wheler were officially inducted into the Saskatchewan Hockey Hall of Fame this past weekend.
Bourne and Litzenberger were inducted in the Players category, Tuer was inducted in the Builders category and Wheler was the only inductee in the Officials category.
Bob Bourne is being inducted into the Saskatchewan Hockey Hall of Fame in the Players category. Bourne, who hails from Netherhill, grew up playing both hockey and baseball and began his involvement in sport at a young age. He went on to turn his outstanding hockey skills into an exceptional junior hockey career and four Stanley Cup championships with the New York Islanders. In addition, he signed with the Houston Astros baseball organization before going on to play in the NHL. In his three seasons playing junior hockey with the Saskatoon Blades, Bourne showcased his talent with 97 goals and 224 career points and his contribution to the team was enshrined when his #12 was lifted to the rafters in 2005. Bourne’s effort and determination as a junior hockey star were rewarded as he was drafted by both the National Hockey League’s Kansas City Scouts and the WHA’s Indianapolis Racers in 1974. Prior to the start of the 1974-75 NHL season, Bourne was traded to the New York Islanders. A member of the New York Islanders Hall of Fame, Bourne spent 14 seasons in the NHL with New York and Los Angeles. He played 964 career games netting 258 goals and 582 total points. His leadership was a key ingredient of the Islander teams that captured the Stanley Cup four consecutive times. In 1984 he also represented Canada as a member of the Canada Cup Team. Bourne spent the final two seasons of his NHL career with the Los Angeles Kings during which he was awarded the Bill Masterton Trophy for perseverance. Bourne was also honoured by Sports Illustrated as one of 1987’s Sportsmen of the Year for his work with a school for disabled children. After retiring as a player, Bourne spent five seasons coaching in the International Hockey League and Western Professional Hockey League. His commitment to athletic endeavours will be a part of his legacy through the Bourne Family and Friends Foundation, which was created to help instill healthy lifestyles in youth who experience challenges in accessing opportunities to experience activities. Bourne was inducted into the Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame in 2014.
Eddie Litzenberger is being inducted into the Saskatchewan Hockey Hall of Fame in the Players category. Litzenberger was born in Neudorf and played his minor hockey in Weyburn. He became an outstanding player with the Regina Pats from 1949 to 1952 scoring 332 points in 197 games. He served as captain of the Pats in 1950-51 and 1951-52 and made the Western Junior League All-Star team those two seasons. He was on the Pats teams that played for the Memorial Cup in the 1949-50 and 1951-52 seasons. Eddie’s most successful year with the Pats was the 1950-51 season when he was runner-up in the scoring race in the Western Canada Junior League. His 12-year career in the NHL saw him play with the Montreal Canadiens, Chicago Blackhawks, Detroit Red Wings, and the Toronto Maple Leafs. In his first full year in the NHL, Litzenberger was named the winner of the Calder Trophy as Rookie of the Year even though he was traded midway through the season from the Habs to the Blackhawks. He was named to the 2nd All-Star team in the 1956-57 season and was selected to play in five other All-Star games during his NHL career. His leadership skills were appreciated by his teammates and management during his stay with the Blackhawks and he was appointed team captain for two seasons. While playing with Chicago, Litzenberger was a vital part of the team’s Stanley Cup Championship in 1960-61 (Chicago’s first Stanley Cup since 1937-38). He was traded following that season to the Maple Leafs where he led his new team to three consecutive Stanley Cup championships. In his 658 games in the NHL, he scored 183 goals and assisted on 252 others. Litzenberger followed up his NHL career with a stint in the American Hockey League where he helped the Rochester Americans team to two Calder Cup Championships in 1964-65 and 1965-66. In 2002, Litzenberger was inducted into the Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame. In 2010, he passed away at the age of 78.
Graham Tuer is being inducted into the Saskatchewan Hockey Hall of Fame in the Builders category. Tuer’s involvement in hockey spans more than five decades. In that time, he has worked in multiple capacities including as a volunteer, administrator, general manager and scout at every level in minor and junior hockey in Saskatchewan. On a provincial level, Tuer helped create the Saskatchewan Development Model – a collaboration of the Saskatchewan Hockey Association (SHA), Western Hockey League (WHL), Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League (SJHL) and the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League (SMAAAHL) to offer an athlete-centred development and education program to players across the province. Tuer was the general manager of the Regina Pat Canadians when they captured the Air Canada Cup in 1988; served as an assistant general manager and scout with the Regina Pats; spent 20 years as a scout with the Kelowna Rockets, and scouted for the NHL’s Central Scouting Bureau. Tuer has received a number of accolades over the course of his career including most recently receiving the Hockey Canada Order of Merit in 2015. In addition, he was inducted into the Regina Sports Hall of Fame in 2012; received the WHL Distinguished Service Award in 2010; was named Regina Pats Key Builder in 2010 and was the SaskSport Volunteer of the Year in 2008. His dedication and involvement in the sport continue as an advisor with the Saskatchewan Development Model and a liaison with the Regina Pats after rejoining the organization is 2015.
Ken Wheler is being inducted into the Saskatchewan Hockey Hall of Fame in the Officials category. Wheler began officiating at the age of 14 in his hometown of Battleford as part of the Battleford Community Youth Club hockey program. He advanced through the ranks and went on to take assignments from the local minor hockey association. He continued to referee while playing Midget hockey but then made the decision to dedicate himself to officiating full time. Wheler refereed several provincial championships at the Midget, Junior A and Senior levels prior to relocating to Saskatoon after being introduced to Ed Chynoweth. He spent one season as a linesman in the Western Canada Hockey League (now WHL) before starting as a referee the following year while continuing to referee Junior A, including the National Junior A Championship. Following that, he refereed primarily WHL games, including the Memorial Cup in 1980. He went on to attend several NHL training camps and after being offered a Minor League contract spent three seasons refereeing in the IHL, CHL and AHL with preseason exposure in the NHL. In addition, Wheler worked as a linesman in seven NHL regular season games. Off the ice, Wheler was a clinic instructor in Saskatchewan and later in British Columbia. He instructed one year at the Terry Gregson Referee School in various parts of Europe and instructed at the Western Canada School of Officiating and the Can-Am Referee School. After retiring from on-ice officiating in 1987, Wheler joined the WHL Officiating Supervisory team. In 2008 he became a part-time NHL Officiating Manager which became full-time three years later, a position Wheler still holds today. In addition, he continues to do some supervision in the WHL and speaks at various high performance officiating seminars and training camps. Wheler has attended two Olympic games as a liaison with the NHL and the IIHF, as well as a game supervisor. Most recently he was invited to Germany to make a presentation to 33 National Member Associations and travelled to Finland and Sweden to observe World Cup of Hockey exhibition games.