Saskatchewan a NHL player factory

Andrew
Andrew Schopp
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The NHL's 79th all-time leading scorer, Neudorf's Brian Propp spent the bulk of his professional career with the Philadelphia Flyers as he amassed a total of 1,003 points in 1,016 games. Photo courtesy of the Philadelphia Flyers 

According to one member of the NHL's 1,000 point club, Saskatchewan hockey players grow up understanding the game better than anyone else.

Brian Propp, a product of Neudorf, was inducted into the three-year-old Saskatchewan Hockey Hall of Fame on Friday as part of the 2014 class, joining a total 17 other players who have been enshrined.

Among the 18 players who have been inducted into the Saskatchewan Hall in Swift Current, 10 of them are members of the big one in Toronto, an indication that the province of about 1.14-millon must be doing something right.

“If you don’t play hockey, you have nothing else to do,” Propp joked when asked why he thinks Saskatchewan breeds more NHL players than any other region on earth. 

According to Darrell Davis' book, Fire on Ice: Why Saskatchewan Rules the NHL, the province produces more NHL players per capita than any other province in Canada.

Some of the biggest names in the sport hail from the Land of Living Skies, including Bryan Trottier, Bernie Federko and the NHL's third all-time leading scorer Gordie Howe.

The NHL’s 79th all-time leading scorer, Propp spent the bulk of his professional career with the Philadelphia Flyers as he amassed a total of 1,003 points in 1,016 games.

 Propp made a total of five Stanley Cup Final appearances with the Flyers, Boston Bruins and the Minnesota North Stars. The five-time NHL All-Star represented Canada five times, playing in the 1982 World Juniors and the 1983 World Championship before winning gold at the Canada Cup in 1987. 

The former-Melville Millionaire and Brandon Wheat Kings forward attributed his and other Saskatchewan-bred players' success at the NHL level to one thing above all; work ethic.

“It’s not always size that will make you a better hockey player,” Propp explained. “It’s knowing the game, it’s outsmarting your opponents, it’s having the drive and intensity to be able to accomplish what you want.”

Friday was a special night for Propp as he was inducted into the Hall along with former teammate Brad McCrimmon, who was killed in a plane crash that claimed the lives of 42 others on board.

 “Brad McCrimmon was my best friend,” Propp said of yet another NHL veteran who developed his craft on the frozen pounds of Saskatchewan.  

McCrimmon and Propp’s careers both took flight in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League. McCrimmon played for the Prince Albert Raiders while Propp skated for the Millionaires before they went on to play three seasons together with the Wheat Kings.

Both players were drafted in the first round of the 1979 NHL Entry Draft before they were eventually reunited as members of the Flyers and Hartford Whalers.

As a 15-year-old Millionaire, Propp tallied a phenomenal 168 points in 57 games in 1976.  

Throughout his career, Propp looked to McCrimmon for leadership as the Dodsland product possessed the typical Saskatchewan hockey player qualities of hard work, drive and tenacity.

“Those were the things that all of us were brought up with,” Propp said of Saskatchewan. "To be able to work hard, to have a vision and be able to achieve it. It’s a lot of hard work, but we don’t mind hard work.”

andrew.schopp@paherald.sk.ca 

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