‘61 Smokie honours Olympians

The B.C. Sports Hall of Fame inducted the B.C. members of the 2010 Canadian Olympic hockey team into its hallowed halls earlier this month, and a Trail Smoke Eaters legend was on hand to unwittingly present the award to two of the team’s key players.

The B.C. Sports Hall of Fame inducted the B.C. members of the 2010 Canadian Olympic hockey team into its hallowed halls earlier this month, and a Trail Smoke Eaters legend was on hand to unwittingly present the award to two of the team’s key players.

Trail’s Norm Lenardon of the ’61 Smoke Eaters attended the Hall of Fame Banquet in Vancouver where he presented the induction certificate and inductee medal to both Roberto Luongo and Scott Neidermayer.

“I had no idea what the hell I was doing there,” said Lenardon. “This girl comes and gets me and I see Cesare Maniago and Kurtenbach was there, Luongo and Trevor Linden, who got inducted to the Hall of Fame . . . so then after, they told me to go up on stage.”

Lenardon was neither informed that he was to be on stage with the inductees nor that he was to present the award to two of them.

“If I’d have known, they knew damn well I would have gone right back to the hotel.”

Earlier in the summer, B.C. Hall of Fame president Sue Griffin had invited, then convinced, Lenardon to attend the Banquet of Champions as a representative of Trail’s great hockey legacy.  Griffin, who attended the Smoke Eaters summer fundraiser two years ago, admits she has a soft spot in her heart for Trail and thought the link between the two teams was an appropriate representation of B.C.’s quest for hockey excellence. Since the ‘61 Smokies were inducted into the Hall in 1976, Lenardon, as an honoured member, would make a fine presenter.

“As part of that ceremony we have typically a sponsor and an honoured member present the certificate and the medal so when it comes to the B.C. members of the Olympic team, it just made sense to have Norm up there,” said Griffin.

The other B.C. members of the Olympic hockey team inducted were Shea Weber, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook, but it was especially rewarding to present to a fellow Kootenay resident.

“When I look at it now it’s kind of nice. I was honoured and humbled by the occasion, it was a pleasure to be part of it,” said Lenardon.

He enjoyed talking to the players, meeting new people and surprisingly his biggest thrill – lunching with inductee and gold medal snowboarder Maelle Ricker.

“Norm is honouring the past and inspiring the future. It’s all about sport but we try to link the sport as far as hockey goes, and the Smoke Eaters are such a tremendous story . . .  and Trail a very special place,” said Griffin.

Only B.C. members of a team are inducted however there is an exception made for some, like Luongo who has spent many years in Vancouver and contributed much to the city and the province.