Hockey Newfoundland and Labrador Hall of Fame chairman Gerry Evans of Mount Pearl has announced five new inductees for 2019.
Players Sheldon Currie, Pat Dempsey, Harold Druken, Bob O’Neill and builder Declan ‘Dec’ Lacour will be inducted during Hockey Newfoundland and Labrador’s annual awards celebration June 8 in Gander.
Members of the Hall of Fame selection committee, besides Evans, are Don Bradshaw of Corner Brook, Jack Lee of the Goulds, Robin Short of St. John’s and Hughie Wadden of Buchans.
He wasn’t the biggest player on the ice, but Sydney, N.S. native Sheldon Currie gave no quarter during his five seasons in the Newfoundland Senior Hockey League.
Currie was one of the toughest in provincial senior hockey during the mid- to late 1980s, and he was also one of the league’s top scorers during that time.
Arriving in Newfoundland for the 1983-84 season, Currie would win a Herder Memorial Trophy and an Allan Cup during his five-year stay in the province.
Currie suited up for three teams — the Stephenville Jets, Port aux Basques Mariners for a season (where he was the player-coach) and the Corner Brook Royals.
He won a Herder with the 1983-84 Jets, and after the Jets were eliminated by the Royals in the 1986 Herder final, he was added to the Corner Brook roster for the Allan Cup.
In 200 games played in Newfoundland, Currie averaged almost two points per game with 186 goals and 210 assists for 396 points.
Responding best when he was under pressure, Pat Dempsey was a “money goalie” during his nine-year career in the Newfoundland Senior Hockey League, during which he won an incredible five Herder Memorial Trophy championships.
A St. John’s native, Dempsey was the backbone of the powerful Bro. Rice Celtics high school teams in the late 1960s, and he was so good he slid right into the St. John’s Capitals senior lineup right out of high school, and remained the Caps’ starting netminder for years.
The puck stopped with Dempsey on Bob Badcock’s “Kiddie Corps” Caps squad that won four straight Herders beginning in 1973.
Three times in four years — in 1976, ’78 and ’79 — Dempsey was named the provincial senior league’s top netminder.
In the 1978 playoffs, Dempsey registered a stellar 3.48 goals against average to backstop the Labatt BlueCaps to their first Herder win, and the fifth of Dempsey’s brilliant career.
He retired following the 1981 season.
As a minor hockey player growing up in the Shea Heights section of St. John’s, big things were expected of Harold Druken.
And he didn’t disappoint.
Druken first raised scouts’ eyebrows at the 1995 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge, scoring five of Team Atlantic’s 19 goals and assisting on six others.
Following three years of prep school hockey at Nobles and Greenough outside Boston, Druken joined the Ontario Hockey League’s Detroit Whalers, who made him the 16th overall pick in the 1996 OHL draft.
The next year, the Vancouver Canucks selected Druken in the second round of the 1997 NHL Entry Draft, 36th overall.
In his third season in Plymouth, Mich. (where the Detroit franchise relocated), Druken led the OHL with 58 goals and he finished seventh overall in league scoring, earning second all-star team honours.
That was in 1998-99, the same season in which he made Canada’s world junior squad, winning a silver medal in Winnipeg.
Druken would turn pro in 1999-2000, splitting the season between Vancouver and the American Hockey League’s Syracuse Crunch. As a 20-year-old, he would score seven goals and register 16 assists in 33 NHL games. His numbers in the AHL were even more impressive, with 20 goals and 25 assists in only 47 games, leading to a year-end all-rookie team selection.
His best NHL season came the next year in 2000-01, when he scored an impressive 15 goals and 15 assists in only 55 games.
Druken would only play 38 games the next season in Vancouver and with the AHL’s Manitoba Moose thanks to shoulder, knee and ankle injuries.
Druken would play another 31 NHL games — three in Vancouver, 14 with the Carolina Hurricanes and nine with the Toronto Maple Leafs — and two-plus seasons with the American Hockey League’s St. John’s Maple Leafs.
“Dec” LaCour has spent almost a lifetime involved with minor hockey — 42 years to be exact.
During those 42 years, LaCour spent 26 with the Newfoundland Amateur Hockey Association’s (later rebranded Hockey Newfoundland and Labrador) Minor Council.
After helping with novice and atom divisions in Wabush, LaCour moved back to his native Harbour Main where he quickly got involved with the Conception Bay Central Minor Hockey Association.
The following year, C.B.C. Minor was affiliated with the provincial association and LaCour served for 13 years on the C.B.C. executive, 10 as president.
During his time as president, he served five years on the C.B.S. Stadium Commission, and he was instrumental in having teams enter Purolator Cup (later called Irving Oil Cup) provincial bantam play.
LaCour would become synonymous with AA bantam play, serving for 25 years as the Branch representative for the championship.
He was awarded the Meritorious Award for outstanding service to minor hockey in 1984, and in ’87 was awarded the Brian Wakelin Executive of the Year Award. Four times he won the Norm Doyle Executive of the Year Award.
During his time as Eastern Director, LaCour was instrumental in the merging of the C.B.C. minor association with C.B.S. minor to form the CBR Minor Hockey Association, which was one of the largest in the province.
LaCour is a life member of both Hockey Newfoundland and Labrador and its Minor Council.
For 11 seasons, Bob O’Neill quietly starred in the Newfoundland Senior Hockey League, winning four Herder Memorial Trophy championships.
The big, skilled defenceman broke into senior hockey with the Labatt BlueCaps and joined the Shamrocks in 1977-78. Following a stellar regular season campaign of 10 goals and 21 points, O’Neill was a key player for the Shamrocks in their improbable run to the 1979 Herder.
In Game 7 of the series and the score tied 4-4, Kirk Johnson of the Gander Flyers scored in overtime. With 26 seconds left on the clock, O’Neill scored, setting the stage for double OT and Ron Cadigan’s game-winning goal. O’Neill had four goals in that final.
He would suit up for the Shamrocks for the next four years before joining the Corner Brook Royals in 1984-85, winning the first of two Herders.
The 1986, the Royals won Newfoundland’s first Allan Cup as Canadian senior hockey champs. O’Neill is the fourth highest-scoring defenceman for Newfoundland teams in Allan Cup play, trailing only long-time teammate Nigel Facey, import Steve McKenzie and the great George Faulkner.
O’Neill finished up his career with the St. John’s Capitals in 1986-87, a Caps squad that dominated from start to finish en route to winning the Herder.
Despite being a defenceman, O’Neill had impressive senior career stats — 56 goals, 82 assists for 138 points in 176 games.