Tom McVie delights with speech at induction ceremony; AHL president Dave Andrews foresees possible schedule reduction
Providence, R.I.—There was no mention of the St. John’s Maple Leafs in the biographical information about Peter White in the commemorative program for Monday’s AHL Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Providence, R.I., but White, one of four inductees Monday, did indeed play for the AHL Leafs, albeit for only 17 games during the 1995-96 campaign.
The previous season, White had won the AHL scoring title as a member of the Cape Breton Oilers. In the fall of 1995, he made the parent Oilers in Edmonton, but was dealt midseason to Toronto in exchange for Kent Manderville. After one game with the big Leafs, he was assigned to St. John’s for what turned out to be a fairly short stay.
He had 13 points in those 17 games before being reassigned to the Atlanta Knights of the old International Hockey League. The reason, according to White, was based on an old hockey story, where coach and player don’t see eye to eye.
“Tom Watt and I didn’t get along. That had a lot to do with it. I wanted to stay there. I liked Newfoundland, but after I got sent down from the NHL to St. John’s, I didn’t get to play very much ... I was on the third line and I didn’t really know why,” said White Monday.
“All I know was that Tom wasn’t very happy with me and I wasn’t very happy either, not because of where I was, but because of the situation.
“Other than that, I would have loved to have stayed in St. John’s. I had been playing in Cape Breton before that and the fans there, the people are very much alike. I enjoyed both places, but things didn’t work out.
White says he never asked to be moved from the AHL Leafs, but soon was assigned to Atlanta — “I think the situation just got reported back to Toronto and they decided to do something.”
After finishing the 95-96 season with the Knights, he signed as a free agent with the Philadelphia Flyers. He would go on to play over 100 NHL games with the Flyers, but spent the majority of the next decade with the AHL’s Philadelphia Phantoms, winning two more scoring titles and another Calder Cup.
White, who was once married to the daughter of Flyers’ GM Bobby Clarke, finished his playing career in Finland in 2006.
Also inducted into the Hall of Fame Monday were Ken Gernander, who played 973 games with Moncton, Binghamton and Hartford and is now head coach of the AHL’s Hartford Wolf Pack; Jim Morrison, a defenceman who played a decade in the AHL, mainly with the Quebec Aces; and Harvey Bennett, a longtome goalie for the old Providence Redds. Accepting on Bennett’s behalf was his son Curt, one of three brothers — Harvey Jr, and Bill were the others — who went on to play in the NHL.
The legend of Tom McVie continues to grow here in Providence.
On Monday, during the AHL Hall of Fame Hall of Fame Induction ceremonies, McVie got to speak as honourary captain of the Western Conference all-stars, but before the 77-year-old-took to the microphone, AHL president Dave Andrews told a story about the long-time coach and scout that had been relayed to him by Washington Capitals general manager George McPhee. It seems that when McVie was the coach of the Capitals in the mid-to-late 1970s, there was a player who was demoted from the second line to the third line and finally to Washington’s fourth line. Upset, the unnamed player went to McVie’s office and asked why he was on the fourth line. “Because we don’t have a fifth line,” replied McVie.
When McVie spoke, he delivered a speech that expressed gratitude for his 60-year career in hockey and the people he encountered, especially to long-time executive Harry Sinden, who along with former New York Islanders general manager Bill Torrey, presented the Hall of Fame inductees with their awards.
But McVie also offered several examples of his renowned humor, going into a Rodney Dangerfield routine, complete with head shrugs and tie pulls.
Here’s how he described a visit to the McVie family home when a scout by the name of Dennis Ball, who was interested in signing a teenaged McVie to a pro contract.
“He spoke to my mother,” said McVie, and said ‘Mrs, McVie, we would like to sign your son to become a professional hockey player for $500.’
“My mother looked at him and said ‘Mr. Ball, you seem like a very nice man, but we don’t have $500.’”
All-star skills competition highlights
In what has become an annual tradition, Andrews delivered his annual state of the league address at a media gathering in Providence. Some of the discussion points:
‰ The league is awaiting the results of a feasibility study into the possibility of a more western North American franchises, with the advantage being the potential shorter distances between west coast-based NHL teams and their farm clubs.
‰ Andrews says, that with the full co-operation of the AHL’s players union, the league will be introducing testing for performance-enhancing drugs sometime in the near future.
‰ The league has been monitoring instances of concussion among its players, with data collected so far indicating the majority of concussions do not occur as the result of illegal hits.
‰ The league president says there are no immediate plans to change, or even discussions about changing, the number of regular-season games, but that he can foresee the possibility of a future reduction of the AHL schedule, which now sees each team play 76 games. However, he does not see the league going the other way and raising the number of games back to 80. The league went from an 80-game schedule to 76 games in 2011.
The long-held belief that IceCaps’ mascot Buddy The Puffin is a New York Yankees’ fan may need to be challenged after word leaked out that Buddy — or someone very much like him — was spotted having a great time during a tour of Fenway Park on Saturday, even chatting it up with Wally, the mascot of the Yankees’ arch-rivals, the Boston Red Sox.
Buddy had flown from St. John’s to Boston (boy, are his arms tired) en route to Providence, where he and other mascots from around the AHL were participating in All-Star events.
As there are no pictures of the puffin’s purported frolicking at Fenway and Buddy is notoriously silent, there can be no confirmation of the events on Saturday.