View Full Version : Bill Hicke passed away monday...

07-19-2005, 10:03 PM
From tuesdays Leader Post

Hicke was a sports legend

Rob Vanstone

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Regina hockey legend Bill Hicke died early Monday evening after a seven-year battle with cancer. He was 67.

"He was one man who lived the life of 1,000,'' said Lisa Ostertag, Hicke's daughter. "I'm just privileged and honoured that he was my father. He was such a special man.''

After starring with the Regina Pats in the 1950s, Hicke joined the Montreal Canadiens and played on three Stanley Cup winners with the NHL dynasty. The Regina-born winger spent 14 years in the big leagues.

Hicke renewed ties with the Pats in 1986 when he was part of the group which purchased the WHL team. Along with being an owner, Hicke also served as general manager and head coach of the Pats. Hicke, Morley Gusway and Ted Knight sold the Pats in 1995, when the current ownership group -- led by Calgary-based Russ Parker -- assumed control.

"Losing Billy creates a heck of a void in this city, for sure,'' said Gusway, a friend of Hicke's for 50 years. "We've lost two great people this year -- Billy and Bob Turner.''

Turner, a fellow Reginan and a former teammate of Hicke's with the Montreal Canadiens, died Feb. 7 at age 71.

Three days earlier, Hicke had been presented with the WHL's Governors Award -- recognizing contributions to the WHL -- during a ceremony at the Agridome.

His uniform number (17), which has been retired by the Pats, hangs from the rafters at the Agridome.

Three weeks ago, Hicke -- a member of the Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame and Museum -- was admitted into palliative care at Pasqua Hospital. He returned to his Regina residence one week ago.

"He wanted to come home and we wanted to make sure that he did,'' his daughter said. "He kept trying to fight. The will was there and the mind was there, but his body couldn't do it anymore.''

Hicke and his wife, Lee Anne, celebrated their 46th anniversary on July 11.

"He opened his eyes (Monday) and never took his eyes off her,'' Lisa said. "He kind of drifted from us. He heard everything we said to him because he continued to squeeze our hands.''

Bill and Lee Anne Hicke had two children -- Lisa, 43, and Danny, 38. Hicke is also survived by two grandsons -- Ryan Ostertag, 12, and his 10-year-old brother, Dylan.

The family plans to hold a private funeral service. A public memorial service is to be held some time this week. Details had yet to be finalized as of Monday.

Hicke was a legend in Regina. He will be missed.

07-19-2005, 10:05 PM
Here is another more detailed article.

Rob Vanstone

July 19, 2005

Bill Hicke always found time to laugh, or to tell a funny story in his inimitable fashion.

But, periodically, he could be serious.

In September of 2002, the Regina sporting legend was typically candid in discussing a lengthy battle with cancer -- a disease which claimed him Monday at age 67.

"Cancer is something that's a mystery in the body,'' Hicke said. "You might get some of it. You might get a lot of it. Who knows? I get up every day, just thankful that I'm alive.''

"Life is so short,'' he continued. "When you read the obituaries in the Leader-Post, you know somebody every day -- which proves that I read all 34 pages of the Leader-Post.''

Hicke proceeded to erupt into laughter. Even when discussing a sombre topic, the irrepressible Hicke couldn't remain serious for very long.

- - -

Hicke was serious about hockey.

That quickly became evident to anyone who watched him play for the Regina Pats -- then of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League -- in the 1950s.

During the 1955-56 campaign -- Hicke's first full season with the Pats -- he had 33 goals in 36 games as a 17-year-old.

The following winter, he struck for 100 points (including 52 goals) in 53 games. The Regina-born right winger capped a sensational junior career by scoring 54 goals in 49 games with the 1957-58 Pats.

Hicke helped the Pats reach the Memorial Cup in 1956, 1957 and 1958, only to taste defeat in all three series.

The brilliance of his junior hockey career was acknowledged in 1959 when the Pats retired his jersey -- No. 17 -- during a ceremony at Exhibition Stadium.

A banner bearing his number hangs from the Agridome rafters. The sweater is also on display in the arena's lobby.

"I have a lot of sentiments of my years with the Pats, right from the day they started babysitting me,'' he said in 1986, when he was part of a group which purchased the Western Hockey League team.

"That was quite the night when they honoured me in my last year and gave me all those gifts.''

Hicke was also honoured on June 10, 1995, when he was enshrined into the Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame and Museum.

The WHL honoured Hicke earlier this year when he was among the inaugural four recipients of the Governors Award, which recognizes outstanding achievements and contributions to the league and to hockey. He was formally presented with the award Feb. 4 at the Agridome.

- - -

The 5-foot-8, 168-pound Hicke spent most of the 1958-59 season with the Rochester Americans, for whom he produced 97 points (including 41 goals) in 69 games. He was named the American Hockey League's most valuable player.

He was also promoted to the Montreal Canadiens for an NHL playoff game in 1959. That spring, Montreal won the Stanley Cup.

During the 1959-60 season, he became a regular with a Canadiens team which won its fifth consecutive Stanley Cup.

Hicke's teammates included Maurice (Rocket) Richard, Jean Beliveau, Doug Harvey, Bernie (Boom Boom) Geoffrion, Jacques Plante, Dickie Moore and Regina's own Bob Turner (who died Feb. 7). Hicke was making $8,500 per season during his time with Montreal.

Hicke remained with the Canadiens until he was dealt to the New York Rangers during the 1964-65 season. In 1967, he joined the expansion Oakland Seals. He would register 21 and 25 goals in the franchise's first two seasons.

"The fans in California didn't know a hockey stick from a broom,'' Hicke said during a 1992 interview. "Most of them thought it was marvelous if you could skate, never mind if you had any skill.''

In 1971-72, Hicke completed his NHL career as a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins. When the books were closed on his 14-year big-league career, he had totals of 402 points (including 168 goals) in 729 regular-season games.

However, his playing career was not over at that point.

He joined the Alberta (now Edmonton) Oilers of the fledgling World Hockey Association for its inaugural 1972-73 season, during which he served as president of the league's players' association. He had 38 points in 73 games during his final pro season.

"I never made any money when I played,'' he recalled, "so I had to go to work.''

- - -

As Hicke's playing career wound down, he jumped at an opportunity to purchase Kyle's Sporting Goods Ltd., at 1843 Hamilton St.

"The year Mrs. Kyle sold me the store, she grossed $385,000 in business,'' Hicke recalled in 1986. "Within three years, I was doing $1 million worth of business.

"I've been really lucky. There are guys a lot smarter than me, but maybe not as lucky.''

A successful sporting-goods store, along with other interests, helped Hicke become a millionaire.

The fortune helped him purchase antique cars -- he once had as many as 11 -- as well as a condominium in Scottsdale, Ariz., and various properties in downtown Regina.

However, there was a downturn in Kyle's business. Late in 1990, the store filed for bankruptcy.

"I miss the people -- the camaraderie,'' Hicke said a year later. "My wife used to say I was the mayor of the street. When I walked down the street, I knew every single person.

"But it's part of life. It's just like when I left professional hockey. I never missed the game. I missed the guys. When I left sporting goods, I didn't miss the sales or the *****y customers. I missed the people.''

- - -

By the time Kyle's closed, Hicke was immersed in another prominent business venture -- as a part-owner of the Pats.

In 1986, Hicke and three other Regina businessmen -- Morley Gusway, Ted Knight and Jack Nicolle -- purchased the Pats for about $500,000. Huddy Bell joined the group later that year, with each owner holding a 20-per-cent share.

The WHL had been seeking a group of Regina-based buyers after taking control of the Pats from Herb Pinder Jr., on Jan. 13, 1986.

Pinder -- who claimed that the Regina Exhibition Association's implementation of a $1-parking charge had drastically affected attendance -- had sold the Pats to a Swift Current group, only to have the WHL nix the deal with the intent of keeping the franchise in Regina. The franchise was formally sold to Hicke's group on Feb. 24, 1986.

Hicke became the team's general manager in the fall of 1988, after he ran for the Progressive Conservatives in the federal riding of Regina-Qu'Appelle. Hicke finished second with 10,747 votes -- 7,820 fewer than the NDP's Simon de Jong.

There was only one regret about his abbreviated political career.

"I should have ran for office earlier, lost, ran again, and lost again,'' he said in 1993. "Then I'd be a senator now.''

Hicke had plenty to keep him busy. In November of 1992, the Pats' GM also stepped behind the bench and, in conjunction with Al Dumba, coached the Pats to a berth in the WHL's Eastern Division final.

Hicke and Dumba were also the Pats' co-coaches for the 1993-94 season, after which the GM vacated the bench.

Following a difficult 1994-95 season, Hicke and his two remaining partners -- Gusway and Knight -- sold the Pats to the Ochapowace First Nation for $1.623 million.

As was the case in 1986, the WHL voted against the deal and assumed control of the Pats. The league sold the team to Calgary-based Russ Parker, whose family has owned the team since June 21, 1995.

"I miss being involved with the team,'' Hicke, who remained a Pats season-ticket holder, said in 2002. "I miss the players. There are a lot of things about junior hockey that are great.

"You have to have good people around you, and I had Ted and Morley -- who are great friends to this day. We miss the camaraderie with the players and the good fun we had, but 10 years of owning a team is about the maximum.''

- - -

Hicke's favourite team consisted of members of his family.

Bill and Lee Anne Hicke had two children -- Lisa (who lives in Regina with her husband, Jim Ostertag, and two sons) and Danny (who operates a car dealership in Medicine Hat).

"I've been married for 44 years and I've only had one argument -- and that was with my mother-in-law,'' Bill Hicke said in 2002.

Ernie Hicke emulated his older brother, Bill, by playing for the Pats and in the NHL. In fact, the Hickes were teammates with the Seals.

Two grandsons -- Ryan and Dylan Ostertag -- always brought a smile to Bill's face.

Dylan was aware of his grandfather's celebrity status.

"He reminds me of it,'' a chuckling Hicke said in 2002. "One time, he said, 'Papa, I can't believe you're famous -- not the way you dress.' ''

With that, he burst into laughter.

It was classic Bill Hicke.

07-20-2005, 09:16 AM
He was a special man. He will sadly be missed.

07-20-2005, 09:37 PM
For those who want to pay tribute, there will be a memorial service this sunday at 2:00pm at the Regina Agridome. Hopefully I will see a few of you there.

08-05-2005, 12:34 PM
What an amazing man. I would have went to the service, but I didn't know about it until after. I was at the game where they presented him with the
WHL's Governors Award. It really wasn't that long ago...you knew he was sick at the time, but he never really let on. And how amazing is his family? It's a sad loss, but I don't think he'll ever be forgotten around here.