Memorial Cup memories still fresh for Dean

Darcy MacRae
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Botwood Bullet helped Hamilton Red Wings to national title 45 years ago

Watching the Memorial Cup this weekend is sure to bring back a lot of memories for Botwood's Bob Dean.

In 1962, Dean became the first Newfoundlander to play on a Memorial Cup-winning team when he helped the Hamilton Red Wings claim the top prize in Canadian junior hockey. He was 18-years-old and a rookie in the Ontario Hockey Association during a time when there was only six major junior A teams in all of Ontario.

British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell helps Trevor Linden (top right) and Stan Smyl (left) look for their names on the Memorial Cup at a tournament-opening luncheon in Vancouver Thursday. One name they wont find is that of Botwoods Bob Dean, who played

Watching the Memorial Cup this weekend is sure to bring back a lot of memories for Botwood's Bob Dean.

In 1962, Dean became the first Newfoundlander to play on a Memorial Cup-winning team when he helped the Hamilton Red Wings claim the top prize in Canadian junior hockey. He was 18-years-old and a rookie in the Ontario Hockey Association during a time when there was only six major junior A teams in all of Ontario.

"I guarantee it was as big a deal then as it is today," Dean said. "The rinks were blocked for every series, sold-out crowds every night. It was a great feeling. We had all kinds of stuff given to us from all kinds of companies when we won. We were given coats, suits, hats, companies gave us everything for winning."

Wings were too slick for Oil Kings

While the Memorial Cup is decided with a tournament format today, it all came down to a best-of-seven series in 1962. Dean's Red Wings faced the Edmonton Oil Kings in the national final, with Hamilton taking the championship in five games.

Dean was thrilled with the result, but admits today the magnitude of the victory didn't register with him at the time. It wasn't until a few years later that he fully realized what he and his teammates had accomplished.

"I wasn't a guy that went around thinking I was special. But when I think back on it ... Here I was playing in all these big cities all the way from Botwood, Newfoundland," Dean said. "There were thousands of hockey players who would have loved to be in my shoes."

Winning the Memorial Cup was the perfect ending to a whirlwind 1961-62 season for Dean.

One year earlier, he had helped the Grand Falls Junior Cataracts win the provincial junior title. immediately after Cataracts claimed the crown, a pair of Hamilton Red Wings scouts walked into the Grand Falls dressing room and asked Dean if he'd like to come to southern Ontario for a tryout. When he got to Hamilton for training camp in the fall of 1961, there were 120 players vying for only 21 roster spots.

"Have you seen the show Making the Cut? It was exactly like that ... that show brings back memories," Dean said. "The coach would come out and call a bunch of names to go to the office, and when you heard that you knew it was doomsday, you were cut."

Dean's outstanding skating ability (he is known as the Botwood Bullet) helped him earn a spot on the team and he soon found himself playing regularly on the second and third lines. The Red Wings won often and won big with a talented roster that included future NHLers Lowell MacDonald, Pit Martin and Paul Henderson.

"Paul and I played on the same line in Hamilton," Dean said. "He was a good player, scored some big goals for us."

Making the experience even more enjoyable for Dean was the way the Red Wings were treated in Hamilton throughout the '61-62 season. The club had rock star status in the city, thanks to the fact all of its home games were broadcast on local TV.

"We were the only hockey team in Ontario that was broadcast regularly. We were on TV every Thursday night," Dean said. "We were TV stars in southern Ontario and that was unheard of then."

Dean was traded to the Toronto Marlboros before the start of the 1962-63 season and finished his junior career in Oshawa during the 1963-64 campaign (where he played with a 14-year-old sensation named Bobby Orr). Dean later played a season of minor pro in New Haven, Conn., before going to school and eventually returning to Botwood for good in 1969.

He didn't see many of his Hamilton Red Wings teammates again until the club had a 40th anniversary celebration in 2002. Dean says it was an event he'll never forget.

"We were given the red-carpet treatment at a Hamilton Bulldogs game. They presented us with jackets and trophies," said Dean. "It was great to see the guys again. We all changed over the years, but we all knew each other right away and started talking. There were only three guys that missed the reunion."

Dean added another great aspect of winning the Memorial Cup is that it allows him to constantly one-up his friends whenever they are ribbing each other about hockey.

"We were the last team to win the original Memorial Cup trophy," he said. "That trophy is in the Hockey Hall of Fame and if you ever get close enough to it, you'll see my name on it."

dmacrae@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Red Wings, Ontario Hockey Association, Edmonton Oil Kings Toronto Marlboros Hockey Hall of Fame

Geographic location: Botwood, Ontario, Southern Ontario Newfoundland Grand Falls Oshawa New Haven

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