Ed Chynoweth played a key role in the success of major junior hockey. (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)
It was with sadness this week I received an email from my esteemed colleague Rob Vanstone that Western Hockey League icon Ed Chynoweth is not doing well in his fight with kidney cancer.
Chynoweth, 66, has been the face of the WHL for more than 35 years, serving as president from 1972 to 1996, while also overseeing the Canadian Hockey League. He's currently the governor/president of the Kootenay Ice, but is battling the disease at his home in Calgary with his wife, Linda.
My thoughts and best wishes go out to the Chynoweth family, which also includes sons Jeff (vice-president and GM of Kootenay) and ex-NHLer Dean, coach-GM of the Swift Current Broncos.
Vanstone wrote an excellent story March 24 for the Regina Leader-Post that outlined the relationship between dad and his two sons, who are in the heat of a major junior playoff series.
With their father's health in decline, the Chynoweth brothers visit Calgary whenever possible and constantly keep in touch over the phone.
“I've gone home every week for two or three days and that's been good,” Dean Chynoweth told Vanstone. “That's kind of therapy in itself. We worry about our mother. Jeff has started to get back more.
“You know the end result. You hope that there can be some comfort and still some good times together. I talk to him every day. Some days he's not doing as well and it's short, and other days he's the same old Ed. He wants to know what's going on in the league and how we're doing.”
My dealings with Chynoweth go back to the mid-1980s when I covered the league for the Swift Current Sun. Chynoweth ran the league with an authoritative fist. He was both thoughtful and deliberate in his decisions and protective of his teams and players. Sometimes the media got in the way of that. If you said a disparaging word about anything in the WHL, you dealt with Chynoweth head on.
I had - and have - a lot of respect for Chynoweth because of the passion and energy he brought to the table. He did things the old-fashioned way and that involved rolling up his sleeves. I always thought he reminded me of my own father and now I mourn his impending fate.
“Throughout the whole process, the one thing my father has always been is a strong person,” Dean Chynoweth told Vanstone. “He tackles this the same way he tackles everything else. He just marches forward. You never hear him complain.”
The success of the WHL and CHL is due in large part to Chynoweth's vision and execution. The diversity and breadth of the 60 major junior league teams is attributable to his administration. He's also a long-time member of the Hockey Hall of Fame's selection committee and truly one of the game's most unheralded builders.
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