is great to be home and I am very honored to be here and
accept this induction. I would like to congratulate my
fellow inductees who have contributed a great deal to sports
in Wetaskiwin. Thank You to Sandy Wright for all the time
and research she has put in and that great
I would like to share some
memories of my childhood, growing up on the farm and
participating in sports in Wetaskiwin. But, most importantly
I'd like to share my memories of the people who had a great
influence on me and allowed me to achieve my dream.
First of all The farm:
I grew up on a farm 16 miles
southeast of here in the Malmo district with my parents Sieg
and Maxine, brother Wayne and sister Gayle.
The farm was a sports lover’s
dream. We had our own skating rink in winter and ball
diamond in the summer. Who wouldn’t succeed in sports with
your own training facility in your back yard.
The entire community from
fellow Malmo covenant church members to family, cousins and
friends would make up various teams and create some serious
games and heated competitions. Picnics, visiting and
bonfires after the games was common afterwards. I will
always cherish this sense of community gatherings being
brought up in the Malmo district.
Then there was School:
I attended Rosebrier school
grades 1-9. Great teachers and friends. I enjoyed
going to school...mainly for the sports. The classroom stuff
was just well...okay ....it was sports that I was really
And Now For My Family:
of all my Sister Gayle. What I remember most about
her was that she never wanted to be left out of any sports
because she was a girl.
So for hockey, Wayne and I
would often put our sister in goal. We would fire pucks at
her as hard as we could. Our mom was often worried, but we
said it was totally safe.. Gayle had some goalie gear
on...sometimes even a helmet and mask.. I guess I can thank
her for helping me perfect my shot. She soon realized it was
safer in the piano room banging on the keys. Well the
banging soon started to sound pretty good....today there is
no one better.
And now Brother Wayne. I
often remember throwing footballs or shooting pucks after
school with Wayne. He was a good athlete but unlike me his
interest faded, he lost his focus and his attention turned
to girls at a young age.
Though, he did teach me the
importance of getting in shape and working out in order to
become a professional athlete. As you can guess at an early
age when the farm hockey rink needed to be cleaned and
flooded or the baseball diamond needed to be manually cut
and manicured, Wayne was nowhere to be found. Yes, he
learned at an early age it is easier to have other people do
the work for you and he employs that in his job today.
Father Sieg. I learned a
lot about hockey and all sports at an early age from my dad.
If any of you have ever watched a game on TV with my dad
you will understand why. You may as well turn the volume
right off because you are going to get full commentary, play
by play, analysis and game breakdown whether you want it or
not. Yes, this was where it started. I learned the game in
the living room and I also learned what players he never
We never missed an oil king
game or Eskimo game broadcast by Bryan Hall and the farm
would shut down for Hockey Night in Canada, unless of
course, it was harvest season.
It was also always a treat
for dad to drive us into town to watch the Wetaskiwin
Colonels play hockey. They had players I looked up to at an
early age. From goalie Ken Grimm to left winger Harold
Macaborski, I still remember all the names.
And now my Mother Maxine. One
of the memories I treasure most of her back then and even
now is how she could feed us. We would get home from school
and she would have such a variety of snacks or treats
waiting for us. That was followed by a large meal two hours
later and then another snack before bed. I can assure you we
never had a hunger problem back then. And anyone who has
been to mother's kitchen for a meal or just coffee knows
what I mean. I guess she taught me the importance of
nutrition and the need for a healthy appetite to enhance an
Seriously, my sister, brother
and parents were hugely responsible for shaping who I am
today. I would like to thank them for all they have
done for me. From supporting me in whatever I did to driving
me all around Alberta for hockey or fastball games. They
never put any pressure on me growing up, playing hockey. The
only pressure I had was from my coaches, teammates but
mostly from myself.
And Now for some Sports
Until I was ten I mostly
played hockey for fun and on outdoor rinks.
So, it was quite a big deal to
start playing hockey in Wetaskiwin around 1971. This
definitely was a big deal to play in a organized hockey
league ...and play in an indoor arena. I thought that I had
definitely reached the “big times”.
I found the Wetaskiwin minor
hockey league to be very competitive, and boy, the level of
competition was amazing. Talented guys from not only
Wetaskiwin but from Falun, Millet and surrounding areas was
quite impressive. I remember playing with names like
Pezderec, Recknagle, Dycks, Flinkman, Rogers, Huckle,
Henschel, Bailer - just to name a few and of course the
great Dan Anderson. Yes, Dan was quite an athlete himself.
He may have had a chance to advance but he started dating my
sister and lost his focus.
My minor league hockey teams
included coaches Bruce Hanbury, Les Knull, Frank Dyck, Bruce
Rogers and Maurice Recknagle at the helm - what a great
foundation for hockey I had. Playing on these teams with
these coaches was a recipe for success. These coaches
taught us sportsmanship, teamwork, commitment, and work
ethic. And oh yea, they also taught us how to win - cause we
won a lot! No backtalk with these coaches. RCMP Frank Dyck
was a big man with a big gun back then, Brudie Rogers had
fire in his eyes and Moe Recknagle could cut a hole in you
with that stare after a bad shift.
There was no year-round hockey
for me back then. When my teammates and I took our skates
off in March or April after another successful season, that
was it. We put away the sticks and brought out the bats and
footballs. We had equally as much fun and success on the
ball diamond as on the football field.
My one year attending high
school in Wetaskiwin and playing football was a memorable
one. Coach Ross MacEachern made me his quarterback that
year. Having brother Wayne run all those slant patterns on
the farm paid off! I learned a lot about football from Ross
and he taught me about leadership, how to compete and how to
win. That year of football was a lot of fun.
I left Wetaskiwin at the age
of 16 to continue my hockey career in Red Deer, Medicine Hat
and then the NHL.....and like most guys my route to the top
was not an easy one. I was invited to Medicine Hat Tigers'
camp at age 16 and was not ready to play at that level yet
and I got cut. I left the Hat not knowing that I would be
back.....for more reasons than just hockey. The St Albert
saints (AJHL) brought me in right after that. Got cut, went
home a little down but was looking forward to one more year
of midget hockey and high school football...so I thought.
I was up visiting my new best
friend Tom Mansell who was running the A &W. He asked if I
wanted a try out in Red Deer with the Rustlers. "Yea,
right," I thought.
I told him could probably make
me a pretty good hamburger but I doubted that he could get
me a tryout in Red Deer. Tom calls the GM Sheldon Ferguson
who responds with "If he can't play for Messier in St Albert
how do you think he can play for me?" Two days later I am
driving to Red Deer not knowing I would not return to
Wetaskiwin to live. I made the team and joined fellow
Wetaskiwin minor hockey graduates Kelly Kisio and Dwight
Flinkman. My new agent Tom Mansell also sets me up to live
with his mom Loretta who is here this evening. Thank you
Loretta. I never missed a curfew....right!
Coach John Chapman introduced
me to junior hockey and wow....what an introduction!
After one and half years in
Red Deer I got a call from Sheldon Ferguson who had become
the coach of the Medicine Hat Tigers. Rod our defence is
brutal I need you down here to play D. He had never seen me
play d because I never had. After that season Sheldon got
fired. I will always remember Sheldon Ferguson for giving me
the opportunity....and of course that phone call made from
the A&W just down the street. The legendary Paddy Ginnell
coached me my last 2 seasons in the Hat....Paddy defined my
style, launched my career and I was drafted on defence by
the Pittsburgh Penguins. I developed a real passion, and
desire in the Hat both on and off the ice.
Yes, this is when and where I
met my bride to be. I married Debra five years after meeting
her so she has been there throughout my career. Thank you
for just being there with me. Your smile after games made
the bad games not so bad and the good games great. I could
not have imagined my career without you.
I have two great kids that
were unable to be here tonight - Blake born in Pittsburgh
twenty years ago and Paulina born in Las Vegas sixteen years
ago. They have always loved coming to Wetaskiwin to visit
there grandparents and cousins.
My in-laws Peng and Karen,
Deb's sister, Sherry, brothers Mark and Greg have been a big
part of life for 30 years. It means a lot to me that Sherry
and Greg are here tonight.
Through sports in Wetaskiwin I
made a lot of good friends. It was quite a cast of talent
and characters. When my friends and I got together on the
ice or on the ball diamond we competed with each other and
we could compete with any other team in the province at our
I am extemely lucky to have
had a hockey career that lasted as long as it did. I was
able to play a game that I loved and was passionate about at
the highest level. I played with some of greatest
players ever to play the game, met a lot of special people
and lived in some of the best cities in North America. It
was a great experience that I will never forget.
Hopefully I have inspired
other kids in Wetaskiwin to aim high and showed that if you
work hard and do not quit you can achieve your goals. Dreams
can come true!
I would like to give a big
thanks to the City of Wetaskiwin. I have been inspired by a
lot of people from this community. Because of
Wetaskiwin’s great sport's facilities, their organizations
of the different sports, teams and leagues and more
importantly the amazing coaches that volunteered their time
- I could not have asked for a better place to grow up.
Thank-you for the nomination
and induction into the Wetaskiwin Hall of Fame.
Read the opening comments made by Sandra
Wright when introducing Rod Buskas.
Return to Rod Buskas Inductee Page