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For Cleary, Dick Power was a great hockey coach and a better life coach


It’s telling that on the night of June 4, 2008, when the Detroit Red Wings won the Stanley Cup, making Danny Cleary the first player from Newfoundland and Labrador to be a National Hockey League champion, the first person Cleary called after his mother and sister — who were not in Pittsburgh for the Wings’ Game 6 victory — was Dick Power.

“He was my mentor,” Cleary said of Power, his longtime Harbour Grace minor hockey coach, who died Monday at 75.

“Actually, he was more than that. He was family … close family. He was like another dad.”

Power, who died in the hospital in Carbonear, had been ill for some time.

Reated story:

Provincial Hockey Hall of Famer Dick Power dead at 75

“So this wasn’t unexpected, but it doesn’t make it any easier. It’s hard, real hard. It’s been more than a day since I found out, and it’s still hitting hard,” Cleary said Tuesday.

Power was manager of S.W. Moores Memorial Stadium in Harbour Grace for nearly four decades and during that time was a highly respected coach in the local minor hockey system. Before that, he had been a star defenceman at the provincial junior and senior levels.

A native of Bell Island, Power played junior hockey for his hometown before joining St. Pat’s in St. John’s in 1960. The following year, he captained the St. John’s Capitals to the provincial junior title.

He then joined the provincial senior circuit, first as a member of the Herder Memorial champion Corner Brook Royals in 1962. He then spent a year in Grand Falls, followed by four more in Gander before finishing his playing career as a player-coach with the CeeBees.

Power, a smooth-skating rearguard, once attended the training camp of a Boston Bruins Junior A affiliate. And despite not having what might be described as a lengthy senior hockey career, he was good enough to be chosen by former Telegram sports writer John Browne as a member of his all-time team of Newfoundland-born senior players, along with goalie Doug Grant, defenceman Harold Stanley and forwards Alex Faulkner, Zane Forbes and Andy Sullivan.

It was a playing career worthy of Power being inducted into the provincial Hockey Hall of Fame in 2001. But it was as a coach that he had his greatest impact, instilling not only fundamentals of the game, but of life, as well.

“I was 10 years old and I would have to bring my report card to him to show that I was doing well at school,” recalled Cleary. “Can you believe that? But it was the sort of thing that showed Dick cared for us beyond hockey.

“He wanted us to be good as hockey players, sure, but he wanted us to be even better as people.”

Power coached Cleary from when he was four to 14, at which time Cleary left to play in Ontario, where he eventually played major-junior hockey and became a first-round draft pick of the Chicago Blackhawks, leading to an almost two-decade long pro career and 938 NHL games.

“And Dick was one of the main reasons for that, from him preparing me to go away, to all the good advice since then,” Cleary said. “He’s a legend, but his legend goes far beyond me. Ask anyone who has played for him or spent time with him.

“They’ll all tell you what Dick meant.”

Power’s continued contact with his former player consisted at times of emails of “funny, stupid Newfoundland jokes,” Cleary remembered with a laugh, but more importantly were the talks, whether by phone or in person.

“When I came home, there were three (sets of) people I’d see right away,” he said. “Mom and Dad, Nan and Pop and Dick and Liz (Power’s wife, Elizabeth).”

Sometimes the Power-Cleary talks just amounted to shooting the breeze, but they often took on a more serious vein.

“You know how my career went,” Cleary said, referring to a number of low points before he established himself with the Red Wings. “Dick helped me get through those. He was always encouraging me, always telling me to believe in myself, but he always preached humility, too.

“He’d say, ‘You’ve got skill, but it doesn’t mean anything unless you work hard and stay in shape and treat people the right way.’

“I know that sounds simple, like common sense, but when you’re young and you think you’re cool, that’s the sort of thing you need to be reminded of, and Dick did that without being preachy.

“He was a great hockey coach and a great life coach, too.”

Power is survived by Elizabeth, his wife of 50 years, daughters Danita and Libby (Brad) and grandson Shane.

A celebration of life will take place on Friday at S.W. Moores Memorial Stadium in Harbour Grace, with visitation from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. That will be followed by a service at 4 p.m.

Cleary will be among those speaking at the service.

“I don’t know how I am going to be able to do it,” said an emotional Cleary. “I don’t know if I can find the right words. I don’t know if I’ll be able to get through it.

“Normally, if something like this would happen, Dick would be one of the people I’d talk to. I guess this time I’m going to have to think about what Dick would tell me, and hope that helps me through.”

 

bmcc@thetelegram.com

 

“He was my mentor,” Cleary said of Power, his longtime Harbour Grace minor hockey coach, who died Monday at 75.

“Actually, he was more than that. He was family … close family. He was like another dad.”

Power, who died in the hospital in Carbonear, had been ill for some time.

Reated story:

Provincial Hockey Hall of Famer Dick Power dead at 75

“So this wasn’t unexpected, but it doesn’t make it any easier. It’s hard, real hard. It’s been more than a day since I found out, and it’s still hitting hard,” Cleary said Tuesday.

Power was manager of S.W. Moores Memorial Stadium in Harbour Grace for nearly four decades and during that time was a highly respected coach in the local minor hockey system. Before that, he had been a star defenceman at the provincial junior and senior levels.

A native of Bell Island, Power played junior hockey for his hometown before joining St. Pat’s in St. John’s in 1960. The following year, he captained the St. John’s Capitals to the provincial junior title.

He then joined the provincial senior circuit, first as a member of the Herder Memorial champion Corner Brook Royals in 1962. He then spent a year in Grand Falls, followed by four more in Gander before finishing his playing career as a player-coach with the CeeBees.

Power, a smooth-skating rearguard, once attended the training camp of a Boston Bruins Junior A affiliate. And despite not having what might be described as a lengthy senior hockey career, he was good enough to be chosen by former Telegram sports writer John Browne as a member of his all-time team of Newfoundland-born senior players, along with goalie Doug Grant, defenceman Harold Stanley and forwards Alex Faulkner, Zane Forbes and Andy Sullivan.

It was a playing career worthy of Power being inducted into the provincial Hockey Hall of Fame in 2001. But it was as a coach that he had his greatest impact, instilling not only fundamentals of the game, but of life, as well.

“I was 10 years old and I would have to bring my report card to him to show that I was doing well at school,” recalled Cleary. “Can you believe that? But it was the sort of thing that showed Dick cared for us beyond hockey.

“He wanted us to be good as hockey players, sure, but he wanted us to be even better as people.”

Power coached Cleary from when he was four to 14, at which time Cleary left to play in Ontario, where he eventually played major-junior hockey and became a first-round draft pick of the Chicago Blackhawks, leading to an almost two-decade long pro career and 938 NHL games.

“And Dick was one of the main reasons for that, from him preparing me to go away, to all the good advice since then,” Cleary said. “He’s a legend, but his legend goes far beyond me. Ask anyone who has played for him or spent time with him.

“They’ll all tell you what Dick meant.”

Power’s continued contact with his former player consisted at times of emails of “funny, stupid Newfoundland jokes,” Cleary remembered with a laugh, but more importantly were the talks, whether by phone or in person.

“When I came home, there were three (sets of) people I’d see right away,” he said. “Mom and Dad, Nan and Pop and Dick and Liz (Power’s wife, Elizabeth).”

Sometimes the Power-Cleary talks just amounted to shooting the breeze, but they often took on a more serious vein.

“You know how my career went,” Cleary said, referring to a number of low points before he established himself with the Red Wings. “Dick helped me get through those. He was always encouraging me, always telling me to believe in myself, but he always preached humility, too.

“He’d say, ‘You’ve got skill, but it doesn’t mean anything unless you work hard and stay in shape and treat people the right way.’

“I know that sounds simple, like common sense, but when you’re young and you think you’re cool, that’s the sort of thing you need to be reminded of, and Dick did that without being preachy.

“He was a great hockey coach and a great life coach, too.”

Power is survived by Elizabeth, his wife of 50 years, daughters Danita and Libby (Brad) and grandson Shane.

A celebration of life will take place on Friday at S.W. Moores Memorial Stadium in Harbour Grace, with visitation from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. That will be followed by a service at 4 p.m.

Cleary will be among those speaking at the service.

“I don’t know how I am going to be able to do it,” said an emotional Cleary. “I don’t know if I can find the right words. I don’t know if I’ll be able to get through it.

“Normally, if something like this would happen, Dick would be one of the people I’d talk to. I guess this time I’m going to have to think about what Dick would tell me, and hope that helps me through.”

 

bmcc@thetelegram.com

 

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