By Tom Gilmour
When my son Dan was 8 years old, he was watching an ice hockey game on TV and spotted a player with the name GILMOUR on the back of his jersey. “Look Dad, this player has the same name as us.” I half jokingly answered; he must be our “Uncle Doug.” That moment started a bond between Dan and one of ice hockey’s all time greats: Doug Gilmour.
At that time, Dan was a pretty good roller hockey player but now Doug Gilmour motivated him to take his game to the ice. I enrolled him in a beginner’s ice hockey program and much to my surprise; he was able to keep up with the rest of the kids (with the exception of being able to stop). That accomplishment only motivated him even more. Doug Gilmour was now his hero and Dan began to follow him in the sport pages and on TV.
Doug Gilmour went on to have an amazing and very exciting career. He played in 1,474 regular season NHL games, collected 1,414 points, won a Stanley Cup with the Calgary Flames and was the recipient of the Selke Trophy as the NHL’s best defensive forward in 1992 while playing with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Drafted in the 7th round of the 1982 NHL Entry Draft by the St Louis Blues, he also played for the Calgary Flames, Toronto Maple Leafs, NJ Devils, Chicago Blackhawks, Buffalo Sabres, and the Montreal Canadiens. He is loved and worshiped in Toronto. Dan constantly let me know, that one day Doug would be inducted into the Ice Hockey Hall Of Fame.
Dan had a pretty good ice hockey run himself. He played on a number of pretty good traveling teams and developed into a very skilled player. His high school did not have an ice hockey program, so a group of parents organized a non-profit corporation and raised the funds to start a team. Made up of many talented players from the same traveling team the program was successful from the start. During his sophomore year, Dan’s line scored a record 152 points. His senior year, he was named co-captain of the team. Dan was one of four NJ high school ice hockey players awarded college scholarships by the NJ Devils. Dan played ice hockey all four years at Carnegie Mellon University and was captain of the team his junior and senior years. Today, Dan is a coach with the Hockey in Harlem program.
We tried to watch Doug Gilmour live as often as time and money permitted. We traveled to Toronto when Dan was 14 for our first visit to the Ice Hockey Hall Of Fame and to catch Doug play with the Maple Leafs. We were very excited when Gilmour was traded to the NJ Devils in 1997 because Doug was now in our backyard. That excitement was short-lived when Doug was traded to the Chicago Blackhawks the following year. In January of 2009, Dan and I again traveled to Toronto to partake in the celebration when the Toronto Maple Leafs retired Doug Gilmour’s number 93 (and of course another visit to the Ice Hockey Hall Of Fame).
In July, a very excited Dan called me to let me know Doug Gilmour was finally selected to be inducted into the Ice Hockey Hall Of Fame in November. I quickly made plans and secured some tickets for the weekend event. On November 12th, we boarded a plane for Toronto. A great father/son memory was in the making. Toronto is an amazing ice hockey city and Gilmour is a legend in the city.
The Ice Hockey Hall Of Fame induction weekend is an ice hockey fan’s dream come true. All the great players come to the city for the event and most of them were staying in our hotel. Everywhere we went there were fans wearing GILMOUR jerseys. Dan and I got in the hotel elevator and in walks Gordie Howe and the whole Howe family. Gordie’s son Mark was also being inducted into the Hall. We were accidently escorted onto and rode the bus that took Ice Hockey Hall Fame Board Members and many players already in the Hall to the induction ceremony. A major gala event was held in the Hall Of Fame where we got to meet many other players. After the induction ceremony, all new members must come back to the Ice Hockey Hall Of Fame to sign the official members’ book. After Doug Gilmour signed the book and was walking out, Dan finally got the opportunity to congratulate Doug and shake his hand. Thank you Uncle Doug!