Handy Andy heads again to the Hall
Andy Clovechok of Kamloops will complete his hall-of-fame hat trick tonight in Vancouver.
“Imagine that, eh?” said the 89-year-old Clovechok, one of two surviving players from the original 1945-1946 Vancouver Canucks.
Those Canucks, along with nine individuals, make up the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame’s Class of 2012.
Clovechok is already in the Kamloops Sports Hall of Fame and the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame, as a member of the 1947-48 Edmonton Flyers who won the senior men’s Allan Cup.
“I’m looking forward to this one because that’s where I started in 1945-46 and it’s been a long time,” said Clovechok, who lives in the Tournament Capital with his wife, Molly.
“There’s only three of us left.”
Handy Andy, as he was known back when, will attend a banquet tonight at the Vancouver Convention Centre, along with Ernie Dougherty, the other surviving Canuck from the 1945-1946 roster.
One of the team’s stick boys, Marvin Storrow, will also be in attendance, marking the first time the trio will be re-united since 1946.
Storrow became one of Vancouver’s most-respected lawyers.
The Vancouver Giants will wear replica 1945-1946 Canuck jerseys — royal blue with red and white trim and a white V on the chest — in honour of the induction during their season-opening WHL tilt against the Victoria Royals on Friday, Sept. 21, at Pacific Coliseum.
All three surviving members will be in attendance.
The Giants’ current home is a stone’s throw from Clovechok’s old stomping grounds — the 5,000-seat PNE Forum, still standing at the corner of Hastings and Renfrew.
Vancouver has slashed ticket prices in an attempt to attract fans to the Coliseum during the NHL lockout, but won’t come close to reaching Canucks-of-old standards.
“Prices ranged from 75 cents along the blue-line (bench seating with a wooden backing) to 30 cents for standing room,” wrote Jason Beck, curator of the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame, for Canucks.com.
“If you wanted a cigarette for a quick smoke at a Canucks game in 1945, you didn’t need to head for an exit during intermission. Packs were sold at every concession.”
Clovechok was paid about $60 a week during the Canucks’ inaugural season, in which he won the Pacific Coast Hockey League (PCHL) scoring title with 56 goals and 103 points.
He was given a $40 raise for his exploits.
Vancouver bested the PCHL’s Southern Division-winning Hollywood Wolves 4-1 in the best-of-seven final series and was crowned 1945-1946 champion.
That same year, the Canucks won the United States Amateur Championship, beating the Eastern Hockey League champion Boston Olympics in Game 7 of a thrilling series played at the Forum.
“We did have an advantage,” Clovechok said.
“We were an older team, guys were just coming back from the service and all the games were played in Vancouver.”
A win is a win, though, and the party was on.
“Beer was only $2.10 a case back then,” said Clovechok, who at the time lived with several players in a house beside a brewery.
Born in Slovakia, Clovechok moved to Rosedale, Alta., with his mother when he was five.
His father was already there, working in a coal mine.
In 1942, Clovechok joined the military service and eventually found himself in Lethbridge, where he played for the Bombers.
After a stint with the Sea Island Seahawks in Vancouver, he attended training camp with the Canucks in 1945.
“Vancouver had been without a true out-and-out fully professional team since the 1926 departure of the Patrick brothers’ Vancouver Maroons (latter incarnation of the 1915 Stanley Cup champion Millionaires, Vancouver’s lone claim to hockey’s Holy Grail),” Beck wrote.
Clovechok moved to Kamloops in 1951 to play for the senior Elks and has been here ever since.
He bought a carpet and upholstery business in 1955 and became involved in Kamloops minor hockey for decades to come, serving as a coach, referee and director.
In 2009, Clovechok, a longtime member of the Kamloops Blazers’ board of directors, was inducted in the builders’ category as a Blazer Legend.
There will be about 20 members of the Clovechok clan enjoying tonight’s ceremony in Vancouver, none more tickled by the honour than Handy Andy himself.
“This is special,” he said.
“I’m looking forward to it.”