“Doug Gilmour To Headline ‘Off The Leash Luncheon’”

By P. J. Kennedy

For the seventh consecutive year, the “Off The Leash Luncheon” benefitting the University of Saskatchewan Men’s Hockey Team will feature an outstanding former National Hockey League performer. This year’s celebrity guest will by Hall of Fame centre Doug Gilmour.DougGilmourPic

One of the Toronto Maple Leafs’ most popular players and a winner of the Stanley Cup with Calgary Flames (1989), “Killer” Gilmour performed for seven different NHL teams in a career that spanned two decades from 1983 to 2003.  Named to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2011 and the Ontario Sports Hall of Fame in the same year, the Kingston, Ontario-born forward also had his Leafs’ sweater raised to the rafters at Air Canada Centre in 2009 as his number 93 joined the legion of Honoured Numbers among former Toronto standouts.                         

Not among the biggest players of his era, Doug Gilmour nevertheless put up big numbers during his junior career with Cornwall Royals of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and then, when the team changed leagues, in the Ontario Hockey League.  In total he registered 128 goals, 203 assists, for a total of 331 points in 186 major junior games played over three years in Cornwall. Initially passed over in his draft year in 1981 and despite his scoring prowess, he was not drafted by St. Louis until the seventh round, 134th overall, at the 1982 amateur draft. Sent back to the Royals for his final year of junior, he tallied 70 goals, 107 assists, and 177 points in 68 games. That year he captured the Eddie Powers Memorial Trophy as the OHL’s leading scorer.      

In the NHL, his tenacious style and outstanding defensive abilities led to him capturing the Frank Selke Trophy as the League’s best defensive forward in 1993.  Yet his ability to play both ends of the ice and score key goals made him an invaluable contributor to every team on which he played. His NHL lifetime totals include 1474 games played (20th all time), 450 goals, 964 assists (13th all time), for 1414 points (18th all time). He led  NHL playoff scorers in 1986 with 21 points in only 19 games while toiling for St. Louis Blues. In 1992-93 with the Leafs, he again set a mark among all playoff performers, this time in assists with 25 in 21 games. He also led all players with a +16 plus/minus.  Always a clutch player, Gilmour’s lifetime playoff ledger stands at 60 goals, 128 assists, 188 points and a plus/minus of +29 in 182 games. As a Maple Leaf, he holds the record for most assists in a season (95) and most points in a season (127) as well as most assists in a single game (6).                                                  

His hockey prowess has been recognized with two NHL all-star berths, being named a member of the Canada Cup winning Team Canada in 1987, and his Hall of Fame positions. After leaving the NHL in 2003, Gilmour continued his hockey connection as he served as player development advisor with the Leafs and then (2008) as assistant coach with the Leafs’ American Hockey League affiliate, the Toronto Marlies. Later that season, he was named  head coach of the OHL’s Kingston Frontenacs where he served until 2011 when he moved from behind the bench to take on the team’s general manager’s duties; a position he continues to hold.                                                                                                                                  

The fifty-two year old father of four lives with his wife Sonja in his home town of Kingston. His commitment to charities through his softball and bowling tournaments has drawn in many celebrity participants and raised thousands of dollars for fighting diabetes and for supporting sports facilities and programmes through the Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment’s Team Up Foundation.                                                                                                          

A truly outstanding player on the ice and an exceptional competitor as a player, coach, and executive, Doug Gilmour joins a long list of former NHL star players  who have been guest speakers at “Off The Leash Luncheon” including Wendel Clark, Brett Hull, Jeremy Roenick, Paul Coffey, Mike Bossy, Bryan Trottier, and Mike Modano.  Master of ceremonies will again be funnyman Kelly Taylor and Prairieland Park will be the venue on Thursday, 5 November with doors opening at 11:30.  Tickets are available through PICATIC or any member of the “Off The Leash Luncheon” committee. Corporate tables are $1250. and individual tickets are $125.

“Wendel Clark Returns to ‘Off The Leash Luncheon’”

By P. J. Kennedy

He was the first guest speaker in 2009 and now seven years after he helped launch the “Off The Leash Luncheon” to raise money for the University of Saskatchewan’s men’s hockey team, Wendel Clark is back.  Joining Doug Gilmour his former teammate with the Leafs, Clark will add to the enjWendellClarkoyment of all those present at Prairieland Park at 11:30 on 5 November.

Born in 1966 at Kelvington, Wendel grew up working on the family farm. His strong work ethic and desire to get the job done right extended beyond the farm to his hockey career where he performed as a defenceman first at Notre Dame College in Wilcox and then for two seasons with Saskatoon Blades. He was converted to forward at the World Junior tournament in 1985, and was part of that gold medal-winning team.

It was also in 1985 that Wendel Clark was chosen number one overall in the National Hockey League’s entry draft by the Toronto Maple Leafs. As a rookie, he was moved permanently from defence to left wing and he flourished, notching a team high 34 goals which was a record for first year players in Toronto. He was also runner-up for the Calder Trophy as Rookie-of-the-Year.  He became captain of the Blue and White in 1991 and was one of the most popular Leafs in history for his indefatigable efforts on the ice, his ability to spark his teammates by example, and his involvement in the community.

In 793 career NHL regular season games over 15 seasons with Toronto (three different times), Quebec, New York Islanders, Tampa Bay, Detroit, and Chicago, he amassed 330 goals, 234 assists, and 1690 penalty minutes. His best scoring year was 1993-94 when he potted 46 goals in  only 64 games. In 95 playoff games throughout his NHL career, he collected 69 points. As a Leaf, his 34 playoff goals remains a team record.

Beyond the solid numbers he posted throughout his career, much of his popularity was because of his positive approach to the game. His tenacity and continuous commitment to perform at his best despite injuries are what made “Clarkie” unique among players who were the best at what they did. He never backed down from adversity, whether it was on his way to the net to deposit his patented “wrister” or dropping his gloves to face an opponent one-on-one.

In recognition of his two stellar years (including a WHL all-star selection in 1985) with Saskatoon Blades, his number 22 was retired to the rafters of what is now SaskTel Centre. Similarly, in 2008, Toronto raised his number 17 to the heights of Air Canada Centre in recognition of his quality contributions to the team.

Currently, Clark, his wife Denise, and three children live north of Toronto on an acreage. In addition to his ongoing duties as community ambassador for Toronto Maple Leafs, Wendel owns two Wendel Clark’s Classic Grills in the Greater Toronto Area with a third slated to open in Hamilton. He continues his charity work, hosting an annual golf tournament to benefit the Toronto Hospital for Sick Children.

The old Leaf line mates from the early 1990s, Wendel Clark and Doug Gilmour are sure to provide stories which will entertain all at the seventh annual “Off The Leash Luncheon” on 5 November at Prairieland Park.


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