Ace Burpee–Humanitarian, humorist, community advocate, media personality, skateboard enthusiast, friend to many, HOCKEY LOVER! The Believe in the Goal Foundation is honored to consider amongst its special friends, Mr. “Ace” Burpee of HOT103 FM. Always at the ready when called upon to emcee or host a B.I.G. event or fundraising activity, Ace is now going public with his “Favourite 34 Hockey Players of All-time!” Come back each week throughout the year for a sneak peek into the mind of a true Canadian hockey afficianado, prognosticator and historian... and soon to be, new GM of the returning Winnipeg Jets!
One of the more under-appreciated trophies in hockey is awarded annually to a player who "best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to ice hockey". These are all qualities we would deem admirable. It's a great honour, but the award is often an afterthought at the end of an NHL season. The trophy in question is the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, and there have been some great winners over the years. Mario won it for beating lymphoma, Ken Daneyko for beating the bottle, Bobby Clarke for becoming the man he was while battling diabetes, and on it goes. They are often the greatest stories in the game, and to receive the Bill Masterton means respect. So if the award is a bit under-appreciated, then so to is the man it is named for. At least in this town. Bill Masterton is from here. Winnipeg born and raised, went to Miles Mac, played in the MJHL, and eventually made his way to the NHL. He is one of only a handful of NHL players to pass away because of an injury related directly to an on-ice incident. It was today, in 1968, that Masterton was checked by two players after passing the puck, fell on the back of his head, and sustained a massive brain hemorrhage. He died playing hockey, but because the NHL and hockey people valued him as a person, they now every year honour someone who has overcome great odds, been a great citizen, or has just all-around earned respect for who they are as a person. It might be the best trophy in hockey, and clearly Bill left an impression on those around him. Just over 40 years ago today, Bill Masterton died playing a game many of us wish we could play for a living, and obviously lived his life the way you'd want your kids to as well. Be good to each other. Winnipeg produces good people.