The BC Hockey Hall of Fame will be adding some serious BCHL content to its membership at the 2016 induction ceremony.
On Monday, the BCHHOF announced Murray Baron and Brendan Morrison as inductees in the player category while Merritt Centennials governor Brian Barrett and commissioner John Grisdale are inductees in the builder category. In the team category, the 1998-99 Vernon Vipers got the nod while long-time Canucks equipment trainer Pat O’Neill was the fifth individual to be named on Monday.
Grisdale has been the commissioner of the BCHL since 2003 and was responsible for bring the league website, www.bchl.ca, into existence for the 2003-04 season. He also started up live audio and then pay-per-view video broadcasts of BCHL games. The league has averaged more than 90 scholarships for players to college hockey programs in Canada and the United States in since Grisdale assumed his position with the league. He is also well known to long-time NHL fans as well as he fashioned a 250-game career between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Vancouver Canucks after a four-year NCAA career at Michigan Tech where he also earned a degree in mechanical engineering.
Barrett has been involved in hockey in Merritt since his time as a minor hockey player and after a junior career that took him to Penticton and Kamloops, he finished in Merritt and began coaching midget and junior teams starting in 1971. Barrett’s coaching career lasted 25 seasons but he has remained involved in the Merritt organization as an owner and governor, helping make the Cents the longest continually run franchise in the BCHL at 43 seasons. In that time, Barrett has seen more than 100 players advance on to careers in college hockey and 14 advance to the NHL.
Baron played two seasons in the BCHL with the Vernon Lakers in 1984-85 and 85-86 and was drafted by the Philadelphia Flyers before going on to a three-year NCAA career at the University of North Dakota. He turned pro with the Flyers but spent the majority of his 988-game NHL career in St. Louis (six seasons) and Vancouver (five seasons).
Morrison played the 1992-93 season with the Penticton Panthers scoring 94 points in 56 games before being drafted by the New Jersey Devils in the second round. He went on to a four-year NCAA career at the University of Michigan where he was captain his final two seasons and led the team to the 1996 national title. Midway into his third season with the Devils, he was acquired by the Vancouver Canucks in a trade for Alexander Mogilny. He would play eight season in Vancouver, centring the famed ‘West Coast Express’ line between Markus Naslund and Todd Bertuzzi. He recorded 200 goals and 401 assists in 934 NHL games.
The 1998-99 Vipers won the BCHL title defeating the Chilliwack Chiefs 4-1 in the league final. Led by forward Lanny Gare’s 111 points, the Vipers had strong leadership from defenceman and captain Lenny Rampone and solid goaltending from Derek Gustafson. Gare’s linemates Ryan Bayda and Tyler Knight were also top-15 scorers in the BCHL that season. At the 1999 RBC Cup in Yorkton, Sask., after a slow start, the Vipers got rolling and wound up hoisting the Cup after a 9-3 win over Charlottetown. Head coach Troy Mick, himself a former standout player with the Vernon franchise, remains involved in the BCHL as general manager of the Salmon Arm Silverbacks.