KAMLOOPS — The death of hockey legend Johnny Bower this week brought memories flooding back for a Kamloops man.
Memories from 62 years ago.
You often hear special stories when someone who is larger than life passes away.
When Johnny Bower died on Boxing Day the memories came flooding back for Heffley Creek resident Jimmy Morrison.
"He was staying at the Lucky Strike Motel on Kingsway, and I'd walk up there and wait outside his room.
Him and his wife would come out, they'd see me, say hello, put me in their car and take me to the game", says Jimmy.
As a boy of around 11 years old at the time Morrison, who grew up in east Vancouver, befriended Bower during the 1954-55 season when Bower played for the Vancouver Canucks. (in the old Western League)
Bower, who would have been 29 years old, would take young Jimmy to games and make sure the young fan was well taken care of after the game.
"After the game he would come out, there'd be all kinds of kids there, and he'd give me a puck, or some tape or a hockey stick --- now looking back in hindsight I wish I would have kept those sticks", says Morrison.
Bower was in Vancouver for just one season, where he was named the outstanding goaltender in the WHL --- a hint of what was to come with the Toronto Maple Leafs, where he would win a pair of Vezina Trophies and four Stanley Cups.
Morrison contacted Bower a few years ago to thank the NHL Hall of Fame'er for the memories he gave a young boy in east Vancouver.
"We talked for 20 minutes to half an hour --- just two guys talking. He was very approachable. The funny thing is this was over 60 years ago and it's as plain as the day, as clear in my mind.
But he did'nt remember me at all." says a chuckling Morrison.
For Jimmy Morrison that season that Bower was in Vancouver is one he will never forget --- both for the opportunity to watch one of the all time greats play the game of hockey, and to meet the man behind the pads.
"He was really good --- standup goalie, did the poke check --- he was just a really good goalie. And I watched him when he went to Toronto, and his career. He was a standup, square shooter, just a guy, a real good guy to idolize."
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