Former LA Kings great Marcel Dionne greets fans in Ancaster

Community Apr 10, 2015 by Debra Downey Ancaster News

Bill Gregory’s eyes were bright with excitement; so too were Ryan Lehman’s.

Although 66 years separates the two hockey fans, both were clearly thrilled to be in the company of hockey legend Marcel Dionne.

The former Los Angeles Kings centreman was on hand yesterday to sign copies of the book Team Canada 1972: The Official 40th Anniversary Celebration of the Summit Series and greet fans at Pub Fiction Gas Bar and Grill in Ancaster.

Gregory, 72, and Ryan, 6, were among those who stopped by to chat with Dionne, a member of the 1972 Team Canada squad that upset the Soviets in international competition and forever changed the face of hockey.

“He was one of the greatest hockey players who ever played,” said Gregory. “He wasn’t a big guy. He played in Detroit for four years, then went to L.A. and played in the shadow of a lot of great players, but his numbers were still phenomenal.”

Ryan, who only popped by with his dad and brother Nick to meet up with friends, was equally impressed.

“He is one of the best players ever and he seemed like a really nice guy,” said the second-year Ancaster Minor Hockey Association player.

Big brother Nick, 9, a right-winger finishing up his fifth year of hockey as a Minor Atom AE player, recognized Dionne’s name from his hockey trivia book.

“I thought it was cool that we could go and see him,” he said.

In his playing days, Dionne was known as The Little Beaver on the ice. He played 18 seasons with the New York Rangers, L.A. Kings and Detroit Red Wings between 1971 and 1989.

Although he never hoisted the Stanley Cup, Dionne and former Kings goaltender Rogie Vachon were awarded honorary championship rings by Los Angeles.

“We were invited by Luc Robitaille, president of business operations who was also a successful player, when the Kings won the cup in 2012,” said Dionne.

“...It (the ring) really belongs to the fans, and the kids love it, so it’s a real good thing for everyone to learn what hockey is all about.”

After retiring in 1989, Dionne and his family settled in the Niagara Falls area and operate Marcel Dionne Inc. restaurant and store.

Despite never playing for the Sabres, the Hall of Famer admits his favourite team is the 2015 cellar-dwelling Buffalo. He said the team is in a good position to become a future force on the ice with new owners Terry and Kim Pegula and the prospect of acquiring this year’s number-one draft pick Connor McDavid.

“If he (McDavid) comes along, it will be very exciting for western New York,” said Dionne.

One of only six NHL players to reach the 700-goal plateau, Dionne said the lower goal totals in recent years are due to teams becoming more “defensive-minded.” But you simply can’t compare today’s players, or the game of hockey, with the men who hit the ice decades ago.

“That’s the era, it’s unfair to go back 34 years ago. All the super-stars in those days would till be super-stars today,” he said.

The 1972 international Summit Series, which was the first competition between a Soviet national team and a Canadian team of NHL professional players, was both the highlight of Dionne’s hockey career and changed the game for future generations.

“It didn’t feel like the highlight at the time because you’re so caught up in it, but I took my wife, so I must have known it would be important,” said Dionne with a laugh. “The series changed hockey, with the Russians, the Czechs and the Swedes coming into our game. It opened up doors for a lot of great players.”

Proceeds from the sales of Team Canada 1972: The Official 40th Anniversary Celebration book will go to the Canadian Diabetes Association. To obtain a copy, visit Dionne’s marceldionne.com/store.html.

Former LA Kings great Marcel Dionne greets fans in Ancaster

Community Apr 10, 2015 by Debra Downey Ancaster News

Bill Gregory’s eyes were bright with excitement; so too were Ryan Lehman’s.

Although 66 years separates the two hockey fans, both were clearly thrilled to be in the company of hockey legend Marcel Dionne.

The former Los Angeles Kings centreman was on hand yesterday to sign copies of the book Team Canada 1972: The Official 40th Anniversary Celebration of the Summit Series and greet fans at Pub Fiction Gas Bar and Grill in Ancaster.

Gregory, 72, and Ryan, 6, were among those who stopped by to chat with Dionne, a member of the 1972 Team Canada squad that upset the Soviets in international competition and forever changed the face of hockey.

Related Content

“He was one of the greatest hockey players who ever played,” said Gregory. “He wasn’t a big guy. He played in Detroit for four years, then went to L.A. and played in the shadow of a lot of great players, but his numbers were still phenomenal.”

Ryan, who only popped by with his dad and brother Nick to meet up with friends, was equally impressed.

“He is one of the best players ever and he seemed like a really nice guy,” said the second-year Ancaster Minor Hockey Association player.

Big brother Nick, 9, a right-winger finishing up his fifth year of hockey as a Minor Atom AE player, recognized Dionne’s name from his hockey trivia book.

“I thought it was cool that we could go and see him,” he said.

In his playing days, Dionne was known as The Little Beaver on the ice. He played 18 seasons with the New York Rangers, L.A. Kings and Detroit Red Wings between 1971 and 1989.

Although he never hoisted the Stanley Cup, Dionne and former Kings goaltender Rogie Vachon were awarded honorary championship rings by Los Angeles.

“We were invited by Luc Robitaille, president of business operations who was also a successful player, when the Kings won the cup in 2012,” said Dionne.

“...It (the ring) really belongs to the fans, and the kids love it, so it’s a real good thing for everyone to learn what hockey is all about.”

After retiring in 1989, Dionne and his family settled in the Niagara Falls area and operate Marcel Dionne Inc. restaurant and store.

Despite never playing for the Sabres, the Hall of Famer admits his favourite team is the 2015 cellar-dwelling Buffalo. He said the team is in a good position to become a future force on the ice with new owners Terry and Kim Pegula and the prospect of acquiring this year’s number-one draft pick Connor McDavid.

“If he (McDavid) comes along, it will be very exciting for western New York,” said Dionne.

One of only six NHL players to reach the 700-goal plateau, Dionne said the lower goal totals in recent years are due to teams becoming more “defensive-minded.” But you simply can’t compare today’s players, or the game of hockey, with the men who hit the ice decades ago.

“That’s the era, it’s unfair to go back 34 years ago. All the super-stars in those days would till be super-stars today,” he said.

The 1972 international Summit Series, which was the first competition between a Soviet national team and a Canadian team of NHL professional players, was both the highlight of Dionne’s hockey career and changed the game for future generations.

“It didn’t feel like the highlight at the time because you’re so caught up in it, but I took my wife, so I must have known it would be important,” said Dionne with a laugh. “The series changed hockey, with the Russians, the Czechs and the Swedes coming into our game. It opened up doors for a lot of great players.”

Proceeds from the sales of Team Canada 1972: The Official 40th Anniversary Celebration book will go to the Canadian Diabetes Association. To obtain a copy, visit Dionne’s marceldionne.com/store.html.

Former LA Kings great Marcel Dionne greets fans in Ancaster

Community Apr 10, 2015 by Debra Downey Ancaster News

Bill Gregory’s eyes were bright with excitement; so too were Ryan Lehman’s.

Although 66 years separates the two hockey fans, both were clearly thrilled to be in the company of hockey legend Marcel Dionne.

The former Los Angeles Kings centreman was on hand yesterday to sign copies of the book Team Canada 1972: The Official 40th Anniversary Celebration of the Summit Series and greet fans at Pub Fiction Gas Bar and Grill in Ancaster.

Gregory, 72, and Ryan, 6, were among those who stopped by to chat with Dionne, a member of the 1972 Team Canada squad that upset the Soviets in international competition and forever changed the face of hockey.

Related Content

“He was one of the greatest hockey players who ever played,” said Gregory. “He wasn’t a big guy. He played in Detroit for four years, then went to L.A. and played in the shadow of a lot of great players, but his numbers were still phenomenal.”

Ryan, who only popped by with his dad and brother Nick to meet up with friends, was equally impressed.

“He is one of the best players ever and he seemed like a really nice guy,” said the second-year Ancaster Minor Hockey Association player.

Big brother Nick, 9, a right-winger finishing up his fifth year of hockey as a Minor Atom AE player, recognized Dionne’s name from his hockey trivia book.

“I thought it was cool that we could go and see him,” he said.

In his playing days, Dionne was known as The Little Beaver on the ice. He played 18 seasons with the New York Rangers, L.A. Kings and Detroit Red Wings between 1971 and 1989.

Although he never hoisted the Stanley Cup, Dionne and former Kings goaltender Rogie Vachon were awarded honorary championship rings by Los Angeles.

“We were invited by Luc Robitaille, president of business operations who was also a successful player, when the Kings won the cup in 2012,” said Dionne.

“...It (the ring) really belongs to the fans, and the kids love it, so it’s a real good thing for everyone to learn what hockey is all about.”

After retiring in 1989, Dionne and his family settled in the Niagara Falls area and operate Marcel Dionne Inc. restaurant and store.

Despite never playing for the Sabres, the Hall of Famer admits his favourite team is the 2015 cellar-dwelling Buffalo. He said the team is in a good position to become a future force on the ice with new owners Terry and Kim Pegula and the prospect of acquiring this year’s number-one draft pick Connor McDavid.

“If he (McDavid) comes along, it will be very exciting for western New York,” said Dionne.

One of only six NHL players to reach the 700-goal plateau, Dionne said the lower goal totals in recent years are due to teams becoming more “defensive-minded.” But you simply can’t compare today’s players, or the game of hockey, with the men who hit the ice decades ago.

“That’s the era, it’s unfair to go back 34 years ago. All the super-stars in those days would till be super-stars today,” he said.

The 1972 international Summit Series, which was the first competition between a Soviet national team and a Canadian team of NHL professional players, was both the highlight of Dionne’s hockey career and changed the game for future generations.

“It didn’t feel like the highlight at the time because you’re so caught up in it, but I took my wife, so I must have known it would be important,” said Dionne with a laugh. “The series changed hockey, with the Russians, the Czechs and the Swedes coming into our game. It opened up doors for a lot of great players.”

Proceeds from the sales of Team Canada 1972: The Official 40th Anniversary Celebration book will go to the Canadian Diabetes Association. To obtain a copy, visit Dionne’s marceldionne.com/store.html.