The Hockey News has released its annual “People of Power and Influence” issue. In traditional accordance, the Free Press ranks the most influential people in PC hockey from 2008.
1. Brian Burke, 1977 alumnus- A first-place finish for the foil-fisted executive was already a few strides beyond moderately secure by the time he had a quarter’s share in the Lester Patrick Award to go with his summer appointment as GM of the next U.S. Men’s Olympic Team. But for good measure, Burke went ahead and transplanted himself from the Anaheim Ducks’ front office to the same post in Toronto last month, cementing his distinction as the hockey world’s most influential PC connection in 2008. Naturally, he can get used to prospecting top-shelf hardware like this. And interestingly enough, he did say, “If I had to hire a coach today, I’d hire Ron Wilson,” when he arrived to his one-time classmate and new Leaf Nation colleague. As one can gather, he will have to hire somebody to tutor the Americans come next February in his old vocational home of Vancouver. (Hint, hint? Please stand by…)
2. Cammi Granato, 1993 alumna- Herself a partial recipient of last year’s Patrick Award, Granato has only accelerated her chronic, single-handed plow in captaining Operation Integration for the women’s hockey world. Her hat trick for this calendar year: first female inductee to the IIHF Hall of Fame (opposite Canadians Geraldine Heaney and Angela James); first female inductee to the Lazarene U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame; newly declared namesake for the WHEA’s MVP trophy.
3. Mike Logan, Cox Sports TV/WOON broadcaster- While confined to fairly obscure, not-always-accessible media outlets, the longtime voice of PC hockey is reliably there for the most scoop-hungry Friar Fanatics. His decade-plus of consistent game-to-game service to the program’s fan base earned him this year’s Joe Concannon Media Award prior to the season’s commencement.
4. Bob Deraney, women’s head coach- One semester away from rounding out a full decade of stable service to the Skating Sorority. He hopes the cherry on that sundae comes in the form of his exponentially evident youth movement blossoming into another round of conference crowns and NCAA invitations. Currently, he has his pupils off to their best start (9-6-2) in a collegiate generation, smoothly subsisting on defense and patience.
5. Tim Army, men’s head coach- An externally untiring preacher of composure and discipline, the fourth-year skipper, for all the statistical and psychological lesions his team has absorbed in Part I of the active season, has yet to resort to stepping up to a podium and spewing, “Hal Gill is not walking through that door, Fernando Pisani is not walking through that door, Nolan Schaefer…” Although, his ultimate torture test waits in the forthcoming stretch drive as the Friars look to freeze and repeal their melting glacier after a sorely needed holiday hiatus.
6. Fernando Pisani, 2000 alumnus- Pisani was nearly yet another Friar Puck product brandishing a little hardware in 2008 when his resurgence from ulcerative colitis brought him back to noticeable normalcy with the Edmonton Oilers at midseason and had him one of the last three Masterton Trophy nominees standing. He would fall short only to Toronto’s Jason Blake, who had veiled the effects of leukemia treatment to play the full length of the last regular season.
7. Karen Thatcher, 2006 alumna- A perennial partaker in international competition since her graduation, Thatcher is the one visible pioneer inclined to blow a second wind into PC’s Olympic tradition come next February. Not to mention, she has practiced another PC principle by giving back to the game as a volunteer skating instructor for teams of varying levels and genders as her own training regimen allows.
8. Ron Wilson, 1977 alumnus- In May, the San Jose Sharks asserted that Wilson’s connectivity with their club had run dry after a three year rut of snuffing it in the second round of the playoffs. But the veteran coach coolly reran the personal recovery process he had followed in 1997 and 2002, ultimately sealing his dream job behind the Maple Leafs’ bench. Now conjoined with the aforementioned Burke, Wilson had the baby-stepping Buds at .500 (13-13-2) through 32 regular season games.
9. Matt Bergland, men’s freshman forward- Jon Rheault, who among others missed membership on this Top 10 list about as closely as Gordon Bombay missed clinching the Hawks a peewee title on his penalty shot, graduated as the 48th admitted member to Friar Puck’s 100-point club. And so pleasurably soon, Bergland has stepped in on the other end of the summer and kindled 16 points in as many outings so far.
10. Erin Normore, women’s senior defender/forward- Normore stores a full package of items essential to her game: consistent productivity (78 career points); leadership (she shares the “A” with Katy Beach); and an iron build (not a single game missed in 124 cumulative ventures). Not to mention, her visually appealing style of play that has something to do with the better-than-nothing crowds her team draws.
Al Daniel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org