I have been asked from time to time to write an article inquiring on what former Soo Greyhounds are up to these days and pick their brain on their experience in our fine community when they were young men. A fluke, if you will have put this ‘ball in motion’ as a friend of mine, let me know her brother-in-law is one such man. Below is my phone interview with the Eddie Powers Memorial Trophy winner (1980-81) for winning the league scoring title and the most important one, in my opinion, the 1978-79 winner of the William Hanley Trophy as the leagues most sportsmanlike player… John Goodwin
When you think back to your three years playing for the Soo Greyhounds and living in the city with your billets; what are your first thoughts or memories?
“It was a great time. The team on the ice in the first two years struggled, but it all came together in my third year. The city was so welcoming and the billets were great, I still keep in touch her (Whitney M)… she’s a good friend of ours now and she was at our son’s wedding. We still stay in touch with people from the Soo and we were there a couple of years ago… you know we still keep in touch as much as possible and I always enjoyed my three years in the Soo; I mean it was 40 years ago but I have only great memories of the Soo”
Do you keep in touch with any of the former Hounds and if so who?
“You do touch base, but not so much directly… you see them on Facebook and Twitter and you comment or they comment and you keep in touch that way. The way social media in the world is these days, it’s more convenient and it serves its purpose. You see how some of the guys have moved on in life and what they are up to. Everybody has moved around, not just in North America but around the world… so you keep in touch that way, not necessarily by talking, but you do know what they are up to.”
Do you follow the Hounds at all and if you do, what are your thoughts on the last five or six years of success?
I do, I follow the team very closely still… they really turned things around and it started with Kyle Dubas and the new culture he brought in there… he’s done a great job for his home town and for the pressure he was under… he handled it like a pro and obviously that’s why he is where he is now… they didn’t miss a beat with Kyle Raftis and John Dean. I know of him a little bit and he is a very good young coach and they have a great coaching staff up there. From what I hear some of their players were really elite last year. I loved watching Morgan Frost… those type of guys through the years. You know it’s fun to follow and to see who’s wearing number 22 (laughter) and it’s just great for the current guys who are playing in the Soo and in the North”
Having married a Soo girl, you would obviously come back from time to time; have you noticed a difference in the city, not only with regards to the Hounds, but it’s appearance and vibe as a whole?
“Well we haven’t been up for a couple years, but it’s a city that has changed, but a lot remains the same. I go by my old billets house, the old Memorial Gardens (when it was still standing) which obviously in recent years was past its due date and with the new arena… you’ve done a great job with that. I was there a few times when I coached with North Bay and Kingston. We came in and thought, wow this new rink is beautiful! I mean, I still have fond memories of playing in the old Memorial Gardens. Going downtown into the core is a really nice area and I remember going by Sir James Dunn where I went to high school for a few years. As much as there has been change, there hasn’t to me, as a lot of the same buildings and businesses are still there and yeah, I feel at home when we come up (probably next summer).
Watching the game and coaching most recently with Kingston, how has the game changed from when you played junior and with the rule changes, do you think it has changed for the better or worse?
“I think a lot of good changes have been implemented, the speed, the skill, it’s off the charts right now. The game at the junior level is a lot more professional… I mean the kids are at the rink a lot longer than we ever were… you know the weight room, the skills coach, the strength coach etc. The game has come so far in just the last eight to ten years and the training camps are much shorter and it’s like a mini professional league and it really has to be if you look at what people are paying to buy a junior franchise these days. I mean the schooling is also taken care of and looked after and a lot of kids are coming from further away to play and so it’s very professional and ahead of the curve.”
Do you have any memories of Harry Wolfe ?
“I do, I do, I remember Harry was there during my three years with the Hounds and I think he retired once and then came back… and he was really friendly… and always on the bus and always smoking a pipe… that’s a clear memory and I guess back then you could smoke on the bus (laughter) and thats my memory of Harry Wolfe (laughter).”
What’s your feeling about knowing you’re the last Greyhound to win the OHL scoring title (1981), despite it being almost 40 years and there have been some incredible Hounds scorers since then, namely Wayne Groulx, Mike Oliverio, Nick Cousins and most recently Morgan Frost? (question submitted by Chris Ski)
“It’s pretty exciting I guess, I mean you don’t think it’s going to last that long and there have been so many great players and some of them go to the NHL at 18 like Joe Thornton… I’m pretty sure he would have won the scoring title… Ronnie Francis would have won a scoring title if he didn’t get called up 20 games into his second season so there’s been a bit of luck in there where guys haven’t finished their junior career ; actually Tony Butorac called me up a couple of years ago and said your record is in danger (laughter) so yeah, it’s neat and not an easy thing to do, but a lot of things have to go your way”
**Aside from John’s continued passion for being involved in the hockey world, most recently as an Associate coach with the Kingson Frontenacs, he also has maintained a career for the past thirty years working for Ontario Power Generation. John is married with children and is enjoying life in Southern Ontario. Whether or not John will join the hockey world again either as a coach or scout is to not known, but one thing is known and constant is that John Goodwin will always be a Soo Greyhound!**
Don’t forget this weekend the Hounds are opening the regular season with a street party Friday night before the scrap with the Birds of Flint and Saturday Coach Dean will let them out of their kennel to maul the North Bay Centennials.
Go Hounds Go
Ernest Skinner was born and raised in Sault Ste. Marie. After attending Humber College, Ernest worked in industry, management and front line customer service before realizing that writing was his real passion. Rock Talk has been a staple of Mr. Skinner's abilities and since its inception he has interviewed members of Judas Priest, Kingdom Come, The Guess Who, Loverboy, Helix, etc. Adrian Vandenberg, Carlos Cavazo, John Corabi, Rudy Sarzo, Sass Jordan, Lee Aaron, Darby Mills, Bill Hudson II. Currently, Ernest is a freelance writer who submits to various establishments. Ernest has had his work published in MUEN Magazine, and many other news sites. Please welcome him and share his pieces.