Anyone who follows me on Twitter likely knows that I am an unapologetic Chicago Blackhawks fan. And sorry, in spite of the fact that a Canadian team is in contention I will not be switching loyalties – although I am hoping for a Montreal / Chicago final. One of the reasons for being a Blackhawks fan is because I am a Delisle boy. Delisle is the home of the famous Bentley family with NHL Hall of Fame brothers Max and Doug Bentley – who played their glory years in Chicago with the Blackhawks.
Max’s NHL career spanned 13 seasons from 1940/41 to 1953/54 with the Hawks, Leafs, and Rangers. Doug played in 11 seasons with Chicago from 1939/40 to 1951/52 with injuries limiting him to only eight games in 1951/52. In 1953/54 Doug returned to the NHL and reunited with his brother Max to play with the Rangers. Between Max and Doug, they won 4 scoring titles, were either first of second team all stars 6 times, won the Hart Trophy (Max), and the Lady Bing Trophy (Max). While in Chicago they formed the famous “Pony Line” (dubbed so because of their speed) along with Bill Mosienko.
At one time (prior to the NHL) their were five Bentley brothers who played for the Drumheller Miners: Max, Doug , Reg, Wyatt (Scoop), and Roy, who was also playing coach. While I was a kid in Delisle playing minor hockey it seemed like I was being coached by a Bentley nearly every season. One of them was Roy, an older brother to Max and Doug. Roy was an old school – garbage can kicking, bag skating – coach. He was very colorful in the dressing room and pulled no punches in calling out players who were mistake prone (putting it mildly!). But I tell every one who will listen that he was the best coach that I ever played for. Not only was he knowledgeable, he cared about the game so much. His wore his passion on his sleeve and above all he was a Bentley!
Not long ago my Mom and Dad traveled to Chicago and while they were there my Dad went to a Cubs game at Wrigley Field. He sat beside a young fellow (no more than thirty according to Dad) from Chicago who struck up a conversation with Dad and naturally asked where Dad was from. Dad replied that he was from a small town that the young fellow had likely never heard of – Delise, Saskatchewan. To my father’s surprise, the young fellow knew all about Delisle! Turns out this guy was a hard core Chicago sports fan who was well read on the history and trivia of Chicago’s professional sports teams. This young guy was thrilled to meet someone from Delisle who actually knew and was friends with the great Max and Doug Bentley!
As young players I don’t think we really understood how much it really meant – playing hockey in Delisle and being coached by Bentley’s. Maybe it is something that can only be appreciated as we get older.