Flin Flon Bombers

HOCKEY TRADITION

Ask someone to add a name behind the City of Flin Flon, Manitoba and a large percentage of people will say the "FLIN FLON BOMBERS." The hockey "Bombers" are known in the hockey world from Montreal to Moscow. The team name was selected in a "Name the Team" contest in the 1930's. A well-known citizen, Joe Pieper, had his choice of "Bombers" selected. The crest was donated by an explosive company called Canadian Industries Limited, who donated the now famous bursting (exploding) "B" on the uniforms.

The Flin Flon Bombers did not take long to gain fame in hockey circles. It was the Senior Bombers of 1937-38, featuring Sid and George Abel and Jimmy Skinner, to name a few, who won the Saskatchewan title losing out to the eventual Allan Cup Champions, the Trail Smoke Eaters, in the western semi-finals. The Bombers entered the Northern Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League in 1948. They were perennial champions in Saskatchewan in the 1950's. A powerful squad of 1957 was to make national headlines when they won an exciting 7-game series over Ottawa/Hull to win the National Junior Memorial Cup Championship. Many players of the team went on to professional careers, including Mel Pearson, Teddy Hampson, Patty Ginnell, George Konik, Duane Rupp and replacements Orlund Kurtenbach and Jean Gauthier.

The Bombers moved to the Manitoba Junior Hockey League for 1966-67, winning the league title. The very next year, Flin Flon moved to the highly competitive Western Canada Hockey League. Led by local stars Bobby Clarke and Gerry Hart, and colorful coach Paddy Ginnell, the Bombers had great success, rarely losing, especially in the confines of the Whitney Forum. The team won the league in 1969 and captured the James Piggott Trophy as the Canadian Dominion Champions that year. The Bombers, with Reg Leach as the key player, won the league again in 1970. Clarke and Leach went on to figure prominently in two Stanley Cups for the Philadelphia Flyers.

The high cost of travel and other expenses led to the Bombers leaving the WCHL after 1977-78. After a successful stint in the NorMan Junior Hockey League, the Bombers moved to the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League in 1984. The team had some tough years through the 1980's, but the persistence of Bomber executives, fans, and businesses to keep a franchise alive was rewarded in 1993. The Whitney Forum was again packed like it had once been with the Bombers' exciting Saskatchewan and Anavet Cup Championship Series.

After winning Saskatchewan and Manitoba, the Bombers went on the road to Nova Scotia for a berth in the Centennial Cup. Although the Bombers did not win the Centennial Cup, the name "Flin Flon Bombers" was back on the minds of hockey fans. Bombers who have played in the national Hockey League or World Hockey Association are featured on the Bombers' Wall of Fame at the Whitney Forum. Retirement banners of Ted Hampson, Mel Pearson and Paddy Ginnell of the 50's and Bob Clarke, Reg Leach, and Gerry Hart of the 60's also hang from the rafters of the Forum. Around the walls you will find over 70 years of pictures of former teams, as well as a scholarship wall featuring players who have furthered their education. All this gives you a sense of hockey pride that living and playing in Flin Flon is all about.

Gerry Hart, we are proud to say, is a member of our Bomber Hall of Fame and the latest of seven Bombers to have his number retired. The following letter from Gerry is a fine example of the quality of the many young men who have worn the Bomber "B".

Letter from Gerry Hart

I was born January 1, 1948 at the Flin Flon General Hospital, a New Year's Baby! My mother Dorothy, was a nurse, and my father, Frank, worked for the Hudson Bay Mining and Smelting Company in the "tankhouse." My sister Naomi, was born a year and a half later. At the time we lived on South Hudson, in a small one and a half story wood frame house with no water works and a wonderful garden that my father was very proud of.

My hockey career began as it did for most youngsters in Flin Flon: outdoor rinks, frozen lakes, and Saturday mornings with Pinkie Davie's Community Club Program.

There were many people at that time who gave a lot of themselves to promote the youth hockey programs. I am forever thankful to my Dad for the hours he spent coaching and driving me to the rink, and to gentlemen like Roy Jarvis, Gordon Mitchell, and Gordie Grindle for their dedication to the sport, as well as to many others.

I am also thankful to "Frenchy" Pelletier for letting me sneak into the old arena through the curling rink to watch the Bombers play!

Youth hockey in Flin Flon flourished back in the 1950's and1960's and former and current Bomber players of that era were the role models that every hockey-playing youngster looked up to. Individuals such as Cy Gilmore and Buddy Simpson, from earlier teams, and Mel Pearson, Ted Hampson, and George Konik from the Memorial Cup team in 1956-57, left a lasting impression on me. Playing for the Flin Flon Bombers was certainly my goal at a very early age.

When my turn came, Paddy Ginnell entered the scene and left an indelible impression on all of us. Paddy brought a new sense of pride, enthusiasm and toughness to the team. With Paddy's leadership the winning tradition of the team continued and his positive outlook was the springboard for many of us to continue to pursue hockey beyond the Bombers. Paddy taught the meaning of the word "character" and what it meant to a hockey team. Role players like Craig Reichmouth contributed as much but in different ways as did the talented Bobby Clarke and Reggie Leach. The tradition was set for many years to come. To this day, Flin Flon is known in every hockey city in North America for its "Bombers."

I left Flin Flon in 1968 and went to play professional hockey for 15 years. I had short stints with the Detroit Red Wings, Quebec Nordiques, and St. Louis Blues, but my best years were with the New York Islanders. Some of the most memorable moments in New York were games against the Philadelphia Flyers and my old teammates Bobby and Reggie. I finished my hockey career in St. Louis in 1983.

Today, I make new York my home together with my wife Rosemarie, and son Jordy. We live on the North Shore of Long Island in a small community known as Lloyd Harbor. Rosemarie is an attorney and has her own law practice, and Jordy is 13 and an aspiring hockey player.

My post-hockey career has primarily focused on the real estate and insurance fields. Four years ago I built a recreational facility known as "The Rinx." It contains two ice surfaces, swimming pools, a pre-school center, a fitness and rehabilitation center, as well as food services and a full service pro shop. There is such enormous demand for programmed recreation on Long Island that we are already laying plans for expansion and looking to build new facilities elsewhere. My greatest pleasure in operating this business is in the quality of life this facility provides the youth of Long Island in recreational opportunities. Flin Flonners might easily draw a comparison with "The Rinx" as a facility that was modeled after Pinkie Davie's Community Club Program - where everyone had an opportunity to participate in a sport.

I have recently come to the realization that I have actually lived in New York longer than any other place. However, I still think of Flin Flon as my home. My summers in Flin Flon with my family and my sister Naomi's family are truly some of the most memorable activities that we do as a family.

Thanks, Flin Flon! It was you who gave me the opportunities for success, and it was you who taught my the values that would carry me through life. To you, Flin Flon, my sincere gratitude and appreciation, for you are always there every summer when I come home.

May God bless all of you.

For more information:
Ryan Robins Manager, Marketing Services