From left former NHL players Ron Stackhouse Bernie Nicholls Dysart et al Reeve Murray Fearrey and former NHL player (and Councillor) Walt McKechnie in a file photo from this summer. It's expected that several of Haliburton's hockey stars will participate in the Hometown Hockey events coming up in October.

Haliburton’s NHL alumni committing to Hometown Hockey

By Darren Lum

Published Sept. 26 2017

Anticipation is building for the touring Rogers Hometown Hockey.

Hall of Famer Scotty Morrison and former NHLers Bernie Nicholls and Walt McKechnie have committed to participate when the tour stops in the Highlands during the Oct. 14 and 15 weekend.

Morrison is on the organizing committee and believes this broadcast will show Canadians what makes his home so special.

“To me it’s the people here. No matter what you try to do … look at the success way back for Community Care – the Scotty Morrison Charity Hockey Tournament. Everybody just pitched in. The first year it was slow and the next five years it was just unbelievable. It’s like that with every real good venture that [is] put on for the community. Like a non-profit venture for the community everybody gets behind it” he said.

In total the charity hockey tournament netted more than $200000 for Community Care Haliburton County.

“It’s the spirit that’s here. There’s no question about that” he said.

Morrison is in the Hockey Hall of Fame for the builder category being the chairman of the Hockey Hall of Fame and officiating in the NHL including being the league’s referee-in-chief.

Making a commitment to coming is important he said.

“Loving Haliburton and the county like I do. I want to be certain that we all pitch in and do whatever we can” he said.

McKechnie said this event shows the community’s spirit and gives amazing exposure.

Last week he said he was interviewed by Hometown Hockey host Tara Sloane at McKecks Tap and Grill.
The town is lucky to have “four hometown boys that not only made it but they’re stars” he said  referring to Cody Hodgson Matt Duchene Ron Stackhouse and Bernie Nicholls.

McKechnie was a NHL journeyman who played for eight teams in 955 games scoring 606 points and is the former owner of McKecks – named after him. He has lived in the Highlands full-time since retiring in 1984. He had been coming up since 1969 when he taught at Hockey Haven.

He remembers watching Hometown Hockey host and friend Ron MacLean on television whom he calls his friend with his wife on a Sunday night telling his wife that the Highlands should have Hometown Hockey.
“Next morning I called Ron MacLean. He said ‘We’ll think about it.’ He called me back a month later. The next thing I know the ball started rolling. That’s where it is right now” he said. McKechnie said his call was only part of the reason why we are getting Hometown Hockey.

Volunteer co-ordinator Autumn Wilson confirmed festivities will be based in Head Lake Park all weekend. Wilson added host MacLean will arrive Sunday when “a lot of the filming for the live broadcast” during the game will take place.

The Sunday night game between the Boston Bruins and Las Vegas Golden Knights that starts at 6:30 p.m. will have an outdoor broadcast for the public to attend in the village. This event will include fundraising for the Highland Storm and live entertainment by Carl Dixon (formerly of The Guess Who April Wine and Coney Hatch) who has performed for Hometown Hockey the past two seasons and young musical talent Haliburton’s Cassidy Glecoff.

Arrangements are being made to provide parking outside the downtown and shuttle buses to transport people back and forth. Specific details will be released closer to the event.

Nicholls who is originally from West Guilford didn’t hesitate to be among the NHL alumni for this event. He finished with 475 goals (scored 70 goals and 150 points for the Los Angeles Kings during the 1988-89 season) in 1127 NHL games.

“It’s an honour for me to be a part of this as I spent my childhood playing in Haliburton so when asked to be a part it was an easy decision for me” he wrote to the paper.

The avid hunter loves the area. So much so that during the 2013-2014 season the Los Angeles Kings won the Stanley Cup (when he was helping the team in their stretch drive) he brought the cup to the Highlands taking it to the village of Haliburton his hometown of West Guilford and to his hunt camp posing with it in a tree stand drawing his bow.

Although Haliburton’s Ron Stackhouse who played in 889 NHL games did not confirm his attendance Nicholls assured the Echo he would be there like Morrison.

While speaking to a producer with Sportsnet recently Morrison said he was told he will be on air with Stackhouse during the weekend.

When asked if Stackhouse has committed a confident Morrison said “Everybody from around this area is going to be a part of it. There’s no question about that.”

Although Matt Duchene will not be able to attend the event or appear live on televison during the weekend he appreciates how Haliburton will be showcased.

“I think it’s a great thing for our town. Hockey has had such a great impact on us in Haliburton and we’ve been able to contribute some great things to the game as well so it’s a great fit” he wrote in a text.
Duchene will be part of a feature aired during the weekend.