University of Saskatchewan's first hockey team took to the ice during the 1909-10 season. In subsequent years, the varsity pucksters competed against various senior teams and ultimately initiated interuniversity competition with University of Alberta on 27 February 1911. This led to the founding of the Western Canada Intercollegiate Athletic Union in 1919 and its successors; the Western Canada Intercollegiate Athletic Association (1962-72) and the current Canada West University Athletic Association (1972 to present). From this ìVarsityî later named ìHuskiesî (1932-33) tradition came countless student athletes of distinction. Although most hockey alumni would graduate to successful careers in a variety of educational, scientific, administrative, commercial, and other fields, several would make their mark in
the National Hockey League.
Among those who came from the University of Saskatchewan hockey ranks to achieve further success in the sport were National Hockey League players Edward 'Cally' McCalmon (Black Hawks), Earl Miller (Black Hawks and Maple Leafs), Charlie Mason (New York Rangers, New York Americans, Red Wings and Black Hawks), Max McNab (Red Wings), Gerry Couture (Red Wings and Canadiens), Eddie Litzenberger (Canadiens, Black Hawks, Red Wings, and Maple Leafs), Billy Hay (Black Hawks), Dave Dunn (Maple Leafs and Canucks), Robin Bartel (Flames), Ross McKay (Whalers), Ken Lovsin (Capitals), and Todd McLellan (Islanders).
DAVE KING AND THE 'HUSTLIN' HUSKIE'
At the beginning of the 1979-80 season, Dave King took the reins of what was a seventy year old University of Saskatchewan Huskies men's hockey team and initiated what was to become a new era for the Saskatoon based team. As a former Huskie himself, King was a tenacious performer who always gave what he had for team success. During his years as a Huskie centre, he accumulated 69 points in only 54 games and was named captain in 1970-71.
As a new coach he wanted to instil in his players the same values of hard work, dedication, and determination that he had developed as a player. He and his assistant coach Ron Robison introduced the ìHustlin' Huskieî as the symbol for the team. The approach to each game and each shift, which is exemplified in the statement ìNobody Outworks the Dogsî can be traced to the King-coached teams of 1979-83.
In his first year behind the bench (1979-80), the Green and White finished under .500, but then improved to 15-9-0 and captured the CWUAA championship in 1980-81. In that year at Canadian Interuniversity Athletic Union championships held in Kingston, Ontario, Huskies beat Concordia and Queen's to earn the right to face Universite de Moncton in the final game. They lost the game, but coming within one victory of a national crown illustrated how King's philosophy of not being outworked can pay off. Coming so close to winning a University Cup also fostered team determination to return to the tournament the following year. The squad continued its steady march toward a national championship that next season compiling a 17-7-0 ledger in Canada West and winning another berth at University Cup, this time in Calgary. Again, Huskies made it to the final game, and again they failed to complete their mission, losing again to Universite de Moncton, this time with only three seconds on the clock.
The grit and determination shown by each member of the team and its staff is what resulted in a University Cup for the 1982-83 Huskies. Beating Concordia in Moncton validated the years of commitment shown by King and his charges. ìWe've been here three times,î said the coach on the day of victory, ìthat's a major statement of consistency. What happened today was not a one-season deal. We've built toward that. It's been an evolution started by the guys on the team four years ago.î
Thus began an era which saw the development of one of Canada's premier hockey programs. Under the tutelage of the man who would go on to coach the Canadian Olympic team, Calgary Flames, and Columbus Blue Jackets, the Huskies captured the University Cup in 1983 and the legacy of ìDog Hockeyî was assured. Numerous coaches who played for King have applied ìHustlin' Huskieî philosophy to teams at various levels. Among them are Willie Desjardens (Canadian university and WHL), Peter Anholt (WHL), Brent MacEwen (Huskies and the WHL), Mike Babcock (NHL), and current Huskies coach Dave Adolph.
(Summary by P.J. Kennedy) For more information on Huskie men's hockey history, read Dogs On Ice: A History of Hockey at University of Saskatchewan.