Dr. Sport: Thomas K. Scallen a forgotten man in city’s hockey history


Late original owner of Canucks served stint in jail

Columnist Greg Douglas, a.k.a. 'Dr. Sport.'

Columnist Greg Douglas, a.k.a. 'Dr. Sport.'

Photograph by: Vancouver Sun files, .

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SCENE & HEARD: Within three tumultuous years, Thomas K. Scallen went from original owner of the 1970 NHL Vancouver Canucks to inmate number 7954 peeling potatoes in the kitchen at Agassiz Mountain Correctional Work Camp.

Very few hockey fans remember his name today, but those who do will be saddened to hear of his passing at the age of 89. Scallen, a one-time Minnesota lawyer and entrepreneur, died peacefully at his home with his family at his side on March 21.

In the summer of 1969, when local businessmen balked at a $6 million expansion fee for Vancouver to join the NHL along with Buffalo, Scallen stepped up at the urging of owners Bill Jennings (New York Rangers), Bruce Norris (Detroit Red Wings), Bill Wirtz (Chicago Blackhawks) and Walter Bush (Minnesota North Stars).

Scallen’s touring Ice Follies show played in all of those NHL buildings as well as the Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver, where the Canucks debuted on Oct. 9, 1970, as only the third Canadian-based team in the league.

Feeling like “an ugly American” as he once put it, Scallen appointed those same Vancouver businessmen who flinched at the $6 million expansion fee as directors of the hockey club. And just as they were invisible at the 1969 NHL roll call, they also made themselves scarce in 1973 when Scallen got himself into a money bind and went to court facing charges of fraud and filing a false stock prospectus … charges that some people to this day feel were unjust.

He served a total of nine months behind bars at B.C. Penitentiary and Oakalla Prison before being moved to minimum security in Agassiz.

A huge Canucks’ 1970-71 team photo today hangs on the wall of the alumni suite at Rogers Arena. “Who’s the guy in the middle of the front row?” a player from the 1980s asked Thursday.

Sadly, Thomas K. Scallen is a forgotten man in Vancouver’s hockey history.

HERE ‘N’ THERE: Despite a glowing news release from Premier Christy Clark regarding John Winter’s retirement as CEO with the B.C. Chamber of Commerce, the former president of Molson Breweries and Vancouver Canadians baseball club insists politics are not in his future plans.

SHORT HOPS: Young Lions Club International leaders (13 to 18) from across the Lower Mainland will be entertained by another Leo when Solomon Elimimian, the CFL’s 2014 most outstanding player, addresses the importance of how teamwork can be applied to everyday living. The popular B.C. Lions linebacker addresses the kids on Saturday, April 18, at the annual spring conference at the Executive Suites in Burnaby … On the same date, prominent NFL player agent and Vancouver native Zeke Sandhu headlines an impressive list of speakers and presenters at the sixth annual Football B.C. Provincial Conference at Holy Cross Regional High School in Surrey.

END ZONE: The B.C. Lions have added Ben Zayandehroudi to their front-office team as director of ticket sales and customer services. Ben’s background includes previous stops with the Vancouver Whitecaps and the Maple Leafs Sports & Entertainment group in Toronto.

Greg Douglas’s Dr. Sport column appears every second Saturday in The Vancouver Sun.


Columnist Greg Douglas, a.k.a. 'Dr. Sport.'

Columnist Greg Douglas, a.k.a. 'Dr. Sport.'

Photograph by: Vancouver Sun files, .

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