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Hall induction cements Chynoweth family bond

Monday, 11.10.2008 / 3:25 PM / Hall of Fame

By Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

"I have a picture in my office of him and I. He's clapping and I'm kissing the Memorial Cup. People don't often get to work with their father, and I worked with him in a business that he more or less built. To share that, and to see him finally get his name on the Memorial Cup, it was very special for both of us, but for him definitely."
-- Jeff Chynoweth on his father, Hall of Famer Ed Chynoweth

TORONTO -- It's one thing to give a speech about your own accomplishments, to recognize the people who have influenced your own life.
It's completely different being Jeff Chynoweth Monday night at the Hockey Hall of Fame. He has to say what his father, the late Ed Chynoweth, who is being inducted in the builder's category, would be thinking right now.

"I said to my wife this morning when I got up, 'This is Game 7,' " Jeff Chynoweth said Monday morning inside the MCI Great Hall while wearing his father's Hall of Fame ring. "I feel today like I did at the Memorial Cup when we were in the final in Guelph in 2002. It's a big day and you are in a condensed time trying to recognize people and list his accomplishments and that's tough to do.

"I'm a little different. Every father is important to their family, but I worked with mine, side by side, for 13 years. He's my best friend. So it will be tough to get through it, but we'll persevere and he'd want us to do that."

Jeff Chynoweth, who is the general manager and vice president of the Kootenay Ice of the Western Hockey League, said he's delivering the speech tonight with 36 family members in attendance because he "drew the short straw." His brother, Dean, also a GM in the WHL, for the Swift Current Broncos, got to play in Sunday's Legends Game at the Air Canada Centre.

While hardly a legendary player, Dean at least played 241 NHL games. Jeff never played professionally.

"Dean wasn't really a legend in the NHL -- I don't want to hurt his feelings -- but they treated him like gold," Jeff said. "We decided that he was the guy on Hockey Night in Canada and I drew the short straw on the speech here."

Jeff has been working on the speech for a few months, but thinking about what he or his brother would say since June 17, when the Hall announced this year's inductees.

"I have spent a lot of time on it," he said. "My mom has seen it. My brother has seen it. My wife times it because you are in an allotted time. I will be honest, I haven't gotten through it once without getting very emotional."

Reminded that Mark Messier's speech last year took nearly 20 minutes, with the captain stopping himself numerous times to wipe away tears and compose himself, Jeff said, "Yeah, but as Mr. (Bill) Hay (president of Hockey Hall of Fame) said, he needed to have a box of Kleenex for him.

"It's always tough to talk about your dad," Jeff continued. "When we're off the record and sitting there having a conversation, you're darn proud, but you don't want to come away looking like you have pom-poms."

Monday night he can wave them all he wants. His dad deserves the recognition.

Ed Chynoweth became the first full-time president of the Western Canada Hockey League, now known as the WHL, in 1972. He served in that capacity until 1996, along the way building the league into a power among the Canadian junior hockey ranks.

Meanwhile, Chynoweth also was one of the founders of the Canadian Major Junior Hockey League (now CHL) in 1973-74. In conjunction with his role as WHL president, Chynoweth also served as the CHL president from 1975-95. He left both offices to take over as governor and president of the Edmonton Ice, a new WHL franchise.

The Edmonton Ice eventually moved to Cranbrook, B.C., and became the Kootenay Ice. With Jeff by his side, Ed won his first and only Memorial Cup in 2002, when the Ice beat the Victoriaville Tigers in the final in Guelph, Ont.

"I have a picture in my office of him and I," Jeff said. "He's clapping and I'm kissing the Memorial Cup. People don't often get to work with their father, and I worked with him in a business that he more or less built. To share that, and to see him finally get his name on the Memorial Cup, it was very special for both of us, but for him definitely."

Jeff doesn't believe his father would have been surprised to get a call from selection committee chairman Jim Gregory on June 17. Before he passed away from cancer at the age of 66, Ed knew his name was on the ballot.

"He actually had a spring in his step for 3 or 4 days there because he saw the booklet that was presented," Jeff said. "Obviously we were all hoping that he would hang on a little longer, but he knew about it and that made it extra special."

Many believe Monday night's induction of Ed Chynoweth into the Hockey Hall of Fame is a long time coming. The wait, though, is part of what made Ed Chynoweth a Hall of Famer.

"There were many people saying, 'How come Ed is not in the Hall of Fame,' but he was on the selection committee and he wouldn't give up that post," Jeff said. "It was more important for him to see the greats of the game (get in). He took pride in the job. It wasn't a job that he would just show up for the weekend and induct somebody. He took a lot of time and went through the booklet and asked a lot of questions. That's the way he did everything in his life. He didn't just show up."

He obviously couldn't be here tonight, either. Cancer is to blame. But Jeff has no doubt that his dad is out there somewhere soaking up the honor in his typical gracious and humble manner.

"As a family you always hope, but everything was more important for the other people and that showed what type of man he was," Jeff said. "He would have been honored and very humbled. I know he's smiling and enjoying this."

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